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31 Days of Giving on a Budget: Finding Joy in Helping Others (Day 25)

Welcome to December’s series on 31 Days of Giving on a Budget. In this series, I’ll be sharing inspiring stories from my readers and posts with practical ways to give — even on a limited income.

If you have a Giving on a Budget story to share of a way you or your family has given to others this year or this holiday season, please . I’d love to hear it and possibly share it during this series!

I was so blessed and inspired by this email from Katie:

Katie and her sons with all of the birthday donations they collected from friends

I’ve been a reader of yours for years, and you’ve helped me learn to be content with what I have and who I am. I’ve also learned from you the value of living with less “stuff”.

With that, for my recent 29th (golden) birthday, I asked friends and family to donate birthday supplies (instead of buying me “more stuff”) to help with my mission to assemble and donate 29 bags for deserving/needy children in our area. The response was INCREDIBLE and my new goal is to assemble 100 bags this year, and maybe double that next year!

This has been an amazing lesson for my children to watch me give graciously and find joy in helping others.

Thank you for planting the seeds of generosity in my heart. -Katie

For more pictures and details on Katie’s story, check out

31 Days of Giving on a Budget: Giving… Even In Helpless Situations (Day 24)

Welcome to December’s series on 31 Days of Giving on a Budget. In this series, I’ll be sharing inspiring stories from my readers and posts with practical ways to give — even on a limited income.

If you have a Giving on a Budget story to share of a way you or your family has given to others this year or this holiday season, please . I’d love to hear it and possibly share it during this series!

Republished from the archives

On our trip to the Dominican Republic, we visited an urban slum in downtown Santo Domingo. What we saw and experienced was shocking–and yet heart-warming.

{I wish I could have taken my camera to capture the scenes for you, but we’d decided to leave it behind as it was a somewhat dangerous situation for Americans to go into these slums. We found out later that one of the men who showed up while we were visiting was actually one of the city’s most dangerous criminals–a man who has an alliance with the police and therefore never gets punished for any of his deeds because he just pays them money to overlook his criminal actions. Our guide was incredibly grateful that I hadn’t brought the camera as he felt there was a good chance it would have put us in a great deal of danger!}

To even reach where the people lived, you had to go through this very small and long concrete corridor in between two stores. At the back, we ducked under laundry hanging out and entered a concrete broken down dwelling that looked like it hadn’t seen anything clean in decades. It reeked of years’ worth of dirty laundry piles mixed with sweat.

Inside this smelly, dirty, concrete dwelling was a beautiful woman. To most people, she wouldn’t appear all that beautiful from the outside. Her teeth were mostly missing and what was left of them were rotted and brown. Her hair looked like it hadn’t been washed in a very long time. Her clothes were dirty, extremely worn out, and stained.

But she was a beautiful woman regardless of her outward appearances because she radiated with contentment. Her living conditions were appalling. She was in charge of caring for some of her grandchildren because her daughter has been sick for years. Her son is a high profile criminal. And she is unable to find work and relies on the kindness of others for support.

Despite all her struggles, she was so joyful. Instead of giving in to hopelessness and despair, she was telling us how she’s trying to reach out and help others.

And then, she asked if she could pray for us. I was moved to tears.

Here was this woman who has practically nothing and she’s asking to pray for us!

I wish you could have heard her prayer. It was powerful and filled with praise to the Lord, thanking Him for bringing us to visit her and asking that God would bless us.

After we gave her a box of staple supplies and prayed for her, I hugged her and thanked her profusely for letting us come. While we came to reach out to her, we left the ones who were ministered to.

If she can be joyful, content, and giving in such an awful situation in life, I have no excuse to ever complain again.

{This picture is of one of the other families we visited on our trip. All six of them live in this house and it wasn’t much bigger than what you see here. I was so impressed with the girl on the left. She had so much drive and potential: she’s working at the supermarket and going to the university to study accounting and hoping to get a job in the accounting field once she graduates.}

31 Days of Giving on a Budget: Blessing Bags (Day 23)

Welcome to December’s series on 31 Days of Giving on a Budget. In this series, I’ll be sharing inspiring stories from my readers and posts with practical ways to give — even on a limited income.

If you have a Giving on a Budget story to share of a way you or your family has given to others this year or this holiday season, please . I’d love to hear it and possibly share it during this series!

KWAVs shows you . This would be a fantastic way to use some of your free samples and coupon freebies to bless others this holiday season.

31 Days of Giving on a Budget: Teaching Our Children to be Givers By Setting Examples in Our Everyday Life (Day 22)

Welcome to December’s series on 31 Days of Giving on a Budget. In this series, I’ll be sharing inspiring stories from my readers and posts with practical ways to give — even on a limited income.

If you have a Giving on a Budget story to share of a way you or your family has given to others this year or this holiday season, please . I’d love to hear it and possibly share it during this series!

One afternoon last year, there was a knock at the door. I opened it to find a young man with a stack of grocery sacks and papers in his hand.

He introduced himself and let me know he was doing a food drive in our neighborhood for the local food banks. He gave me a plastic sack, asked if I’d be willing to fill it up and said he’d be back later in the week to pick it up.

The girls and I immediately took the sack downstairs to our “pantry”. We came up with tuna, pasta, and a number of other canned and jarred goods to fill the sack with.

As we were pulling things off the shelf, it provided an excellent opportunity for me to share with the girls again about how important it is that we live our lives with open hands, seeking to give to and bless those in need.

It was such a simple thing and a grocery sack full of non-perishables won’t really make that much of a difference. However, our hope and prayer is that by constantly looking for opportunities to teach our children to be givers, it can make a lifelong impact in their lives — and in the lives of all those they come in with.

How do you encouraging your children to be givers? I’d love to hear your ideas!

31 Days of Giving on a Budget: 5 Inexpensive Ways to Give (Day 21)

Welcome to December’s series on 31 Days of Giving on a Budget. In this series, I’ll be sharing inspiring stories from my readers and posts with practical ways to give — even on a limited income.

If you have a Giving on a Budget story to share of a way you or your family has given to others this year or this holiday season, please . I’d love to hear it and possibly share it during this series!

Guest post by Sia Hills of 

Even more than frugality, I love generosity. So when there are opportunities be frugal and generous, I get really excited. Here are a five of my favorite ways to give:

1. Read a Book. Give a Book.

At , you choose a book to read online… and then you also select a charity to donate a free book to a child in need. My girls love this program, and it teaches them about giving at a young age.

2. Donate Extra Items From Your Stockpile

You can donate items to your local food bank or homeless shelters. Check out for a food bank near you.

Do you ever wonder what you might be able to do with all of that free soap and shampoo you have stockpiled? Send it to and recycle your soap to save lives. Diseases like Cholera are addressed best with soap and water. Your extra soap and shampoo can save a life. Work with others you know to combine your stockpiles and share shipping costs.

Another great option is to fill a shoebox with with school supplies, small toys, toothbrushes, etc. for the children in need in poor areas of the world through .

3. Purchase Coffee For a Cause

If you’re a coffee lover, be sure to check out . For every $11 in coffee you purchase, $11 will be donated to help humanitarian aid work in Africa.

4. Buy Handmade Items from Entrepreneurs in Third World Countries

, one of my favorite sites, offer the opportunity to purchase items that have been handmade by an entrepreneur in a poor country. These are recipients of Micro Loans, and you are supporting the growth of their business. They offer unique and affordable one of a kind gifts (many start at around $5).

5. Buy a Pair of Shoes, Give a Pair of Shoes

For every pair of shoes purchased, gives a pair of shoes to a child in need. What is great about Tom’s Shoes is that they work from a replenishment model: the child who received the first pair will continue to get a new pair as they grow out of them or wear them out.

Besides the comfort of wearing shoes, it has a significant impact on health issues for the children that receive them. The shoes are not cheap, but your purchase will impact a child’s life!

Sia Hills is a wife and mother of three, who in addition to blogging works in the humanitarian world. She loves to share money saving opportunities, as well as ways to give and live generously. Her blog, , focuses on sharing savings opportunities available in the Pacific Northwest.

31 Days of Giving on a Budget: Using Frugality to Splurge on Others (Day 20)

Welcome to December’s series on 31 Days of Giving on a Budget. In this series, I’ll be sharing inspiring stories from my readers and posts with practical ways to give — even on a limited income.

If you have a Giving on a Budget story to share of a way you or your family has given to others this year or this holiday season, please . I’d love to hear it and possibly share it during this series!

A testimony from an anonymous reader

I was the tight-fisted frugal one when we got married, but my husband was so impressed by my freebie-grabbing, creative penny pinching and compulsive saving that he quickly got on board! Even though we’ve only ever had one income for our family of seven, and that one income has always come from the notoriously underpaid field of education, we’ve never had any debt except for our mortgage which we vowed to pay off in less than five years (and we did). Our vehicles, home renovations, computers and all other purchases have always been paid for with cash.

A few years ago we heard about an orphanage in Burundi that was in distress. The 20 young occupants shared two 10 x 10-foot rooms and had no running water or electricity. A piece of property had been located that had roomier buildings, water, power and a little land (i.e. for gardening, or some animals to help feed the orphans).

Burundian refugees in America who were supporting the orphanage had no idea how to raise the exorbitant (to them) sum of $15,000 to pay for this in full, as apparently there were no mortgages in this primitive country.

Hearing about it through an emailed prayer request, my husband investigated the need, prayed and fasted, and ended up writing a check for the whole amount of $15,000! He was able to visit the property a year later with our daughter. What a heart-stopping, choked-up moment that was for them!

He took the above picture of the orphans in front of their new home and would have packed one or two of them into his suitcase to live with our family if he’d been allowed to! I love that guy!

My seamstress daughter also designed simple dresses like the one below which her sewing ministry was able to make for the girls:

God’s ways are awesome and we’re so blessed to be a part of His will.

My tightness paid off in that we were able to splurge for others far away when it was really needed!

-reposted from the archives