“Gifts Beyond Giving” Through Gifts for Life

October 6, 2010

Each year, Episcopal Relief & Development’s Gifts for Life catalog helps individuals, families and parishes here in the US to connect with communities around the world by providing support for projects that empower people not just to survive, but to thrive.

This year in particular, the catalog has a special focus on supporting communities through the “Create a Community” section. These gifts help more than just individuals and families – they provide entire communities with sustainable resources for the future. A gift like a community garden helps alleviate hunger and increase the local food supply, and it also can provide a source of income, helping to improve the quality of life for many people. Seeds, tools and training to farm individual and family plots can be sponsored for $35 and $175, respectively, through the Gifts for Life catalog.

“High Impact” gifts are another feature this year. These gifts are geared toward parishes who might prefer to pool their funds for the greatest impact. Gifts in this category range from a solar energy system for a rural family ($200), to the land, tools, training and seeds for an entire community garden ($9,000).

“Each year, about this time,” says Brian Sellers-Petersen, Director of Church Engagement at Episcopal Relief & Development, “I start hearing from my fellow Episcopalians that Gifts for Life has made Christmas shopping something they look forward to. This program, and especially the gifts in the ‘Create a Community’ category, can really inspire churches to engage with us and with people around the world. It makes our ministry of serving Christ in all persons and loving our neighbors real.”

Overall, this year’s catalog is about giving more than just a gift – it’s about giving hope, help, joy and a future for individuals and communities that are in serious need. A flock of chickens may provide a daily supply of fresh eggs, but given through Gifts for Life, it also means training for a family to raise poultry as a small business, selling surplus stock and eggs in the marketplace. Installing a well in a community not only supplies access to clean water, but it also frees up thousands of hours that would otherwise be spent searching for it. The time saved can give children a chance to go to school and study, and women the opportunity to become entrepreneurs and earn an income for themselves and their families. These gifts, though they may not seem like much, are truly transformative in the lives of the people they benefit.

Judy Sawler, Episcopal Relief & Development’s Manager of Direct Response Marketing, is in charge of the Gifts for Life catalog and campaign. She says, “Our theme this year is ‘Give a gift. Lift a spirit. Heal a world.’ The gifts in our catalog are great, because they really lift spirits on both ends.Ducks and geese, bees and honey – what fun gifts to give! And they really make a difference in the lives of the people who receive them.”

There are 52 gifts in this year’s Gifts for Life catalog, ranging from NetsforLife® mosquito nets (only $12 each) to micro-credit loans for women ($250 each) and a pair of dairy cows ($710). For each gift purchased – by phone, mail or online – Gifts for Life will deliver an attractive card to personalize and send to the recipient in whose honor the purchase was made. Customizable e-cards are also available for online orders, making this option the perfect last-minute gift. Orders must be placed by Monday, December 6, to ensure delivery of printed gift cards before Christmas.

Gifts for Life make wonderful presents any time of the year – for birthdays, anniversaries, or “just because” – and they are fully tax deductible. To browse the gift selection, visit http://www.episcopalrelief.org/giftsforlife, or request a catalog by emailing communications@episcopalrelief.org.

To support Episcopal Relief & Development’s work, please visit www.episcopalrelief.org or call 800.334.7626, ext. 5129. Gifts can be mailed to Episcopal Relief & Development, PO Box 7058, Merrifield, VA 22116-7058.

Episcopal Relief & Development is the international relief and development agency of the Episcopal Church of the United States and an independent 501(c)(3) organization. The agency takes its mandate from Jesus’ words found in Matthew 25. Its programs work towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Together with the worldwide Church and ecumenical partners, Episcopal Relief & Development rebuilds after disasters and empowers people by offering lasting solutions that fight poverty, hunger and disease, including HIV/AIDS and malaria.