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Give a sheep: Save a life

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One way to help others and yourself is with an end of year tax deduction, or a New Year's resolution to help others. Both can be achieved by providing a life saving donation to one of the more than one-million charities and foundations set up to help others. One way to make sure your donation helps others, the way you intend, is to research the organization and know what the details of who they are and what they support. There are many scams that rely on slick advertising and polished pitches, do your research.

One organization that ranks high on Charity Navigator Rating and other ranking sites is Samaritan's Purse, a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization that provides aid, both spiritual and physical, to hurting people around the world.

They are known for their very effective and successful Operation Christmas Child that has provided more than 100 million gifts to boys and girls, in over 130 countries with a Christmas "shoebox" full of toys and basic accessories, like socks, watches, t-shirt. Volunteers around the country pack a shoe box, or pack one on-line, with gifts, prayers and stories of the love of Jesus Christ to reach children in desperate situations around the world.

Celebrities and volunteers travel to deliver the boxes to distribute the boxes to kids. some who may have never had a gift in their life. They are provided spiritual discipleship on the love of Jesus Christ and the difference he can make in their lives.

Other missions of Samaritan's Purse include the World Medical Mission, where general surgeons volunteer for short-term mission trips to provide critical needs around the world, or Operation Heal Our Patriots that provides a week long get away to help families of America's wounded warriors get support in marriage enrichment and Biblically-based seminars to help them strengthen their relationships with God and others.

Samaritan's Purse also has U.S. and world disaster relief that it provides whenever there is an emergency. One of the ways to celebrate Christmas or any event is by donating on behalf of someone you want to honor or recognize. Samaritan's Purse has a gift catalog where donors can donate all or a portion of a gift that will provide a family in need with the gift of water to people without clean drinking water, or the gift of a nanny goat that will provide milk for a family and enough left over to sell at the market for food.

The gift of education for someone who doesn't know how to read or write creates more than just a one-time helping hand, it improves lives. Take time out as a new year begins and commit to helping others throughout the year.