For the world’s privileged, the Christmas season means mistletoe and hot chocolate, evergreen conifer trees with glistening ornaments, piles of presents and stockings hung on the fireplace mantle. In fact, Christmas is the largest global market stimulus due to an astounding proliferation in sales that account for almost a fifth of the retail industry’s annual sales. In the United States alone, consumers collectively spend a whopping $469 billion during the holiday season with the average family allocating roughly $800 purely to holiday indulgences and travel.
However, a substantial portion of the world’s population is deprived of such blissful and lavish holiday revelry. In many areas of the world, Christmas is not celebrated as a joyful commercial and religious event comprised of frantic trips to the local mall and family bonding; it marks just another day of struggle and survival. Even in America, one of the wealthiest nations in the world, poverty plagues about 45 million people.
Due to this, many organizations provide methods in which individuals are given the opportunity to help impoverished families and communities during the holiday season. For example, since its founding in 1993, Operation Christmas Child has given gifts to over 100 million impoverished children in approximately 130 countries worldwide. In order to make a donation to Operation Christmas Child, individuals are instructed to fill any durable shoebox with child-geared gifts and a $7 shipping donation.
Furthermore, Alternate Gifts International also allows people to lend aid during the holiday season. Unlike Operation Christmas Child, AGI focuses on distributing gifts such as nonperishable food, shelter, vegetation, livestock, and medical supplies. All of which promotes sustainability and community health. To facilitate the donation process, a catalog of needed resources are listed for prospective contributors to choose from.
Much like AGI, UNICEF released a poignant campaign urging consumers to purchase their Christmas cards and gifts online through UNICEF with the tagline of “we go where Santa doesn’t.” According to this endeavor, the purchase of each gift goes towards providing life-saving items, such as mosquito nets and water kits, to impoverished children. Hollywood actor and goodwill ambassador Orlando Bloom supports the campaign by stating “I like the fact that [it] does not simply provide people with the humanitarian aid, but also elaborates on the tools to solve problems and improve the life of children and women.”
Although simply donating to these charitable organizations provides gifts and assistance to communities in need, staying informed and enlightening others about global poverty is also an additional, albeit less direct, way to give back during this holiday season. In doing so, poverty is pushed to the forefront of national agendas.
- Phoebe Pradhan