Holiday Resources from Episcopal Relief & Development Include Advent Toolkit, Gifts for Life
November 18, 2013
Advent begins on December 1, and Episcopal Relief & Development is offering a multitude of ways for congregations, families and individuals to celebrate the season and engage in Christ’s work of healing a hurting world.
Gifts for Life, the organization’s alternative gift catalog, offers people of all ages a fun and concrete way to impact lives around the globe. By purchasing items such as postnatal care for a mother and child, learning and nourishment for preschool children or a goat that can provide a family with milk and cheese, gift givers can lift a loved one’s spirit while boosting a community’s ability to lift itself out of poverty. New to the catalog this year is a donkey and plow that can empower a woman to sow and harvest her own fields, rather than having to hire and wait for a team of oxen and a driver.
“All of the items in the Gifts for Life catalog have a real impact, helping Episcopal Relief & Development’s partners to alleviate hunger, promote health, create economic opportunities and respond to disasters in the communities they serve,” said Judy Sawler, the organization’s Senior Manager of Direct Response Marketing, who oversees the program.
Advent is the perfect season for congregations to reach out and connect to those living at “the end of the road” in rural and underserved communities, and Episcopal Relief & Development’s Advent Toolkit includes everything needed to create a successful and meaningful Gifts for Life campaign. The downloadable Advent Calendar features spiritual reflections, prayers and fast facts that illustrate how items purchased through Gifts for Life are changing lives worldwide. The toolkit also includes four bulletin inserts, one for each Sunday in Advent, as well as planning and activity guides to help organizers engage and energize their congregation.
“Sunday School and youth groups may be especially interested in raising funds to purchase animals for a ‘manger scene’ – a donkey, a cow, a goat and a flock of chickens – that can provide sustainable sources of food and income for families in need,” said Sean McConnell, Episcopal Relief & Development’s Director of Engagement. “Gifts for Life is an excellent faith formation resource, imparting the value of giving and outreach to younger generations, and helping them connect to global concerns.”
Another way to support Episcopal Relief & Development’s mission is by purchasing fair trade, organic Bishops Blend coffee products from the organization’s coffee partner, Pura Vida Create Good. Individual bags of coffee are available for purchase from Pura Vida’s website year-round, and two special Christmas boxes featuring Bishops Blend coffee and Divine chocolates are now online. The Coffee Box includes three of the most popular roasts – Bishops Regular, Kaldi’s Roast and Café de la Paz – and the Coffee and Chocolate Box pairs two coffee blends with two bars of decadent fair trade chocolate. Fifteen percent of each purchase goes to support Episcopal Relief & Development’s programs, and the coffee is produced in a way that benefits smallholder farmers and preserves the environment.
Additionally, the 2013 Matching Gift Challenge is still in effect through December 6. Donations to any of Episcopal Relief & Development’s listed funds, including through Gifts for Life, will be matched up to $500,000. The match is made possible by a group of generous donors, and all matching funds will go to the Global Needs Fund, which sustains the organization’s work and allows it to direct assistance where it is needed most.
“I am grateful to our supporters for their dedication and generosity throughout the year,” said Rob Radtke, Episcopal Relief & Development’s President, “but I am especially touched by those who think of us during the busy holiday season and continue to make global outreach a personal priority. All of our programs aim to strengthen relationships within communities and build connections that bring us and our partners into greater communion with the Church worldwide. As we anticipate Jesus’ birth this Advent, I thank everyone whose help allows this organization to further the healing and unity of his Creation.”
Episcopal Relief & Development is the international relief and development agency of the Episcopal Church 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. Episcopal Relief & Development works closely with the worldwide Church and ecumenical partners to help rebuild after disasters and to empower local communities to find lasting solutions that fight poverty, hunger and disease, including HIV/AIDS and malaria.