The Adventist Development and Relief Agency has unveiled a 2014 Christmas catalog packed with goats, cows, stoves, outhouses and bicycle ambulances — holiday gifts that it says can be life-changing for recipients and provide a sustainable source of income to feed a family or send children to school.
ADRA’s Really Useful Gift Catalog features 37 items costing from $10 (Gift No. 25: protect a street child for a week) to $5,000 (Gift No. 37: prepare a community for a natural disaster).
But Natalia Lopez-Thismon, ADRA’s associate director of communication, said her favorite was Gift No. 7, which gives a cow to a blind person and costs $425. In some countries, a blind person can be a financial strain on the family, but teaching that person to care for the cow gives them purpose and a contribution, and the milk can be sold.
“It’s a gift that touches people who for so long have been marginalized in many countries,” Lopez-Thismon said. “This gift really empowers them to contribute to their family.”
Lopez-Thismon said the catalog provides an opportunity for individual donors as well as groups to make a significant difference.
“There’s a sense of community when churches, schools and groups can select another community to give to,” she said.
Among the gifts in the catalog are a $25 cookstove that promises to “transform mealtimes for an impoverished family” and a $150 latrine that comes complete with hygiene training. Perhaps one of the more unusual gifts is a $500 bicycle ambulance equipped with a bed that ADRA says has saved many lives.
“When every minute counts, such as when a woman is in labor or a serious injury occurs, this low-tech, simple solution reduces villagers’ travel time to the nearest medical center,” the catalog says.
Ashley Eisele, the author of the catalog and ADRA’s content manager, said her children especially like to give animals like goats and chickens to people in developing countries.
“Something so simple can make such a big difference for someone,” she said.
The catalog tells the story of several previous recipients, including 9-year-old Cynthia in Rwanda who received a goat (Gift No. 6, $80) that provided milk and money to keep her in school. Her family will soon have three goats, and Cynthia hopes the herd will continue to grow.
“I want to have lots of goats so we never have to worry about money,” she said in the catalog.
Kopilla in India said she was rescued from being forced into human trafficking after volunteers intercepted her at a train station. Gift No. 16 ($30) helps one girl escape human trafficking in the form of prostitution or domestic servitude.
“I never knew that we could be taken advantage of like this. If I hadn’t been intercepted, my life would have been ruined,” Kopilla said. “Thank God I was rescued and I’m safe.”