A different kind of Cyber Monday

I dread holiday shopping.

It’s difficult enough to figure out just the perfect gift for each and every loved one on your holiday list. But if you add in the hassle of navigating crowded shopping malls, long lines, and busy parking lots, I know I’m destined for an instant stress headache before I even walk through the store’s doors.

No wonder so many of us have resorted to ditching traditional brick-and-mortar shopping and have opted for virtual shopping. And it’s no wonder this Cyber Monday could exceed $1 billion for the second year in a row.

I’ll admit -- I’ve given and received my fair share of Christmas sweaters. There is a stack in my closet, and I have no clue who gave them to me. Although they keep me warm, is it too idealistic to think I can actually give a gift that’s just a bit more impactful, or even potentially life-changing?

I know that it is possible because last Christmas, I was invited to travel with World Vision on a holiday trip through several nations in Africa to see firsthand how presents from our Gift Catalog impact the lives of real people. I visited families in Tanzania who had received cows, goats, microloans, and other unique gifts from generous strangers halfway across the world.

Mindy meets Alfred and his family during the 2010 True Spirit of Christmas Trip.

I met 12-year-old Elvis and learned how he’s now able to go to the best school in his community and teach his neighbors English because his family received several Gift Catalog chickens a few years ago. I visited 4-year-old Rose, a girl whose older siblings grew up going to bed hungry more often than not. I witnessed her smile as she proudly held up a tall cup of milk produced from a World Vision dairy cow her mom had received the Christmas before.

But the Christmas gift I’m most proud to have given myself is the gift of child sponsorship. While on last year’s trip, I met a 9-year-old boy in Ghana named Alfred and decided to sponsor him through World Vision. Nearly a year later, his photograph remains on my refrigerator as a reminder that the $35 I give each month on his behalf is representative of a gift that keeps on giving through healthcare, clean water, education, and other things so many of us take for granted.

It may make you cringe to think of all the millions of dollars that will be spent this Monday on more stuff so many of us just don’t need.

But it does make you look at Cyber Monday a bit differently when you realize that online shopping can help transform lives, too.

And who knows -- if you are like me, you may click through the more than 100 Gift Catalog items offered online and realize Christmas shopping can be much more meaningful, and even fun.

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Mindy's full post originally appeared on FoxNews.com.

For some excellent Cyber Monday shopping ideas, check out our Holiday gift guide: 30 meaningful gifts under $50.

Starting today through Christmas Eve day, shop GIVEN, the new apparel line for men and women, inspired by World Vision, and get 20 percent off all orders! (Use code “GIVENGIFT” at checkout.)

Don't forget to join our team on this year's True Spirit of Christmas Trip to Sri Lanka and Zambia, beginning today. Check out what the team will be up to for the next three weeks: What’s on this year’s trip agenda?


    It’s bad enough just trying to drive to see family on Thanksgiving weekend or grocery shopping amongst the shopping craziness. I am glad there are opportunities to give to those in need, whether that is to a homeless shelter, food bank, buying a toy for a child’s name on the giving tree at the mall, or blessing a family in Africa with a goat or chickens.

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