[serialposts]As Thanksgiving approaches, I’ve been spending some time reflecting on just how fortunate I am to live the life I live. I have a roof over my head, plenty of food to eat, a new baby on the way, and friends and family that love me more than I could ever imagine. And maybe most importantly, I am free. I don’t have to pay anyone any money, time, or body parts to make up for what I have.
These reflections bring deep emotion. First, immense gratitude. Then comes the sadness. Sadness that there are people in this world who don’t have what I have. People with no real support system. People who have no idea where the next meal will come from. People who feel forced to sell themselves just to survive until the next day.
My sadness, coupled with my gratitude, moves me to action. As we move from Thanksgiving into preparing for Christmas, there are several ways that we can use this holiday time to make a difference in the lives of others.
Did you know that you can help stop human trafficking just by making conscious decisions about your holiday shopping?
It’s true! Here are five ways to make a difference this holiday season.
Buy Fair Trade Products
Human trafficking consists of more than sex slavery. Old-fashioned slavery still exists. From the food we place on our table to the clothes we put on our back, there are instances of slavery everywhere. By purchasing fair trade products, you make sure that the people who helped make the product get a fair wage for their work. Some of my favorite fair trade products are soaps, chocolate, and coffee. There are even entire stores devoted exclusively to fair trade products! Instead of buying toys from the major toy store this year, consider buying handmade toys from stores like Ten Thousand Villages. Your purchase will help save a life!
You might be amazed at what you can find in your local neighborhood. As you begin to plan your holiday meals, think about what foods you can buy from local farmers. When thinking of creative gifts for the ones you love, consider buying from local artists. When you shop directly from the local farm or artist, there are less chances that human slavery was a part of the final product. And don’t be afraid to ask about how the food is harvested or how the art is made. Remember – slavery exists in our backyards too. Although it’s less likely that there has been an instance of slavery, it’s still possible.
Buy From Survivors
One of my favorite places to buy gifts for people is the Made By Survivors online store. The products are made by people who have been rescued from slavery and are now in programs to help them become self-sufficient. The organization helps rehabilitate victims so that they don’t find themselves right back where they came from. There are so many products to choose from – jewelry, home decor, stationary, rugs, toys, and more – you can find something for everyone on your list!
As Christmas rolls around, allow the spirit of giving to take over! Talk with your family about the possibility of giving away more than you spend on each other. There are so many organizations doing wonderful work to help stop human trafficking. As you think about how you want to best honor the gift of the Christ-child, consider donating to the Polaris Project or International Justice Mission. Or the local organization that shelters women coming out of human trafficking. A simple Google search can help you find the perfect organization to support.
Sponsor a Child or Family
Many times children who end up as victims of human trafficking do so because their family can’t afford to take care of them. Their parents sell them off, not because they don’t love or want them, but because they truly think a better life awaits. This Christmas, find a child or a family to help. Many organizations have “angel trees” where you can take an ornament off a Christmas tree that has information about a child or family. You can then shop together with your family for the sponsored family’s Christmas gifts. When you help provide necessities for families, they are less likely to become separated and victims of human trafficking.
And above all else, don’t forget to pray for those affected by human trafficking. It’s so easy to get caught up in the excitement of Christmas and to forget about those who have nothing. But through our prayer, we can become connected to those who need it most.