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Give a gift from the heart this Valentine’s Day

Presbyterian Giving Catalog offers meaningful alternatives for those with ‘a big heart for mission’

by Emily Enders Odom, Mission Engagement & Support | Special to Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE — Forrest Gump’s mama had it right. With a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.

But with the Presbyterian Giving Catalog, you do!

While a heart-shaped box of candy is always appreciated, why not honor the love — or loves — of your life by tying an extra ribbon around it with a life-changing gift that will create positive change around the world?

To celebrate the love that people share with their partners, sweethearts, families and friends, the Presbyterian Giving Catalog is offering three alternative gifts, each with lasting impact, to commemorate Valentine’s Day on Monday, February 14.

Whenever a donor decides to give a gift sweeter than honey in the form of Beekeeping Supplies or help love grow by planting seeds or find a way to the heart through the stomach by giving a kitchen kit — all gifts available in the Presbyterian Giving Catalog — they will be making a choice to honor a special loved one by providing help, hope and relief to people, families and communities in need.

Now in its eighth, successful year, the Presbyterian Giving Catalog — which is available both in print and online as well as for immediate download in English, Spanish and Korean — is filled with a wide variety of gifts with a purpose, including aid for refugees, access to clean water and help to end hunger.

To commemorate Valentine’s Day, every Giving Catalog donor will have the option of printing or emailing a personalized card to tell their loved ones how their God-given gifts have inspired them to likewise share a gift in their honor that will provide help and relief to families and communities in need.

Fittingly enough in Loveland, Colorado, honorably retired clergy couple, the Revs. Fred and Virginia Bunning, celebrate their love not only on Valentine’s Day but every day of the year through their ongoing engagement with the Presbyterian Giving Catalog.

“The hymn, ‘O Perfect Love,’ which was sung at our wedding, speaks of hope equipping endurance, peace calming strife, joy brightening sorrow, and love transcending all of life,” wrote the Bunnings in an email. “As we’ve experienced this hope, peace, joy and love in our marriage, we in turn have endeavored to share it with others.”

On their 50th wedding anniversary in December 2020, the Bunnings did exactly that by inviting friends and family to join them in making gifts through the Presbyterian Giving Catalog in honor of their ongoing love.

“This past Christmas we honored Virginia’s siblings with gifts given in their name through the catalog as well,” they added. “We believe ‘perfect love’ is love that is shared so as to bring hope, peace and joy to a world that needs it.”

Kim Lhotak (at left) and Ruling Elder Stephanie Snyder, co-chair of the Mission Committee at First Presbyterian Church of Cozad, Nebraska, take part in the “Coin Challenge.” (Photo by the Rev. Jill Boyd)

At the First Presbyterian Church of Cozad, Nebraska, the Mission Committee decided to use the Giving Catalog after one of their members recommended it. As a result, the congregation now does a monthly “Coin Challenge,” in which they place a bucket in the sanctuary to collect spare change, which they use for Giving Catalog items.

And while the congregation doesn’t necessarily have anything special planned for their coin challenge for Valentine’s Day, the church’s pastor, the Rev. Jill Boyd, says, “I can assure you that every penny, nickel, dime and quarter that gets put into the bucket is given in love.”

“These folks have big hearts for mission — locally, nationally and globally — and they are committed to making a meaningful difference in any and every way they can,” she said. “One of our members, Jon Geiger, put it this way: ‘Watching something as small as pocket change become powerful in the life of another means the world to me and my family.’”

Can a heart for mission be any bigger than that?

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