“The excellence of a gift lies in its appropriateness rather than in its value.” Charles Dudley Warner
Many groups that are coming to build a house ask about bringing a gift for their family. They want to do something more for the family, but are unsure about what is appropriate culturally. So, here are some principles to help you select the perfect gift.
1. Memories mean the most
You came and spent a week of your time to help a family that you had never met before. That simple fact is often the most impactful part of your trip. The house you built is fantastic, and will help keep that family together for years to come. But the fact that you came and spent four days working alongside the family leaves an impression on them that lasts a lifetime.
A simple Bible signed by all the members of the group, or a photo book with pictures of everyone who came to work on the home, can be a great gift.
2. Receiving a home can be overwhelming
For a father or mother who is trying to provide for his/her family, receiving a home can be both an incredible blessing and emotionally overwhelming. It is difficult for many families to ask the local pastors for help. Huge housewarming gifts can sometimes reinforce that feeling of guilt that “I wasn’t able to provide for my own family.”
3. No cash
Please limit your gifts to tangible items, rather than cash. Cash gifts can create a false expectation in the community that groups have money to distribute. It can also create awkward situations after the group leaves if relatives and neighbors see a family receive cash gifts.
Many groups will pick up their housewarming gifts at the local grocery store or Walmart in Tijuana. This can give you the chance to meet the family first and get a better idea of what they need most.
4. Remember the Pastors
Many times there are families in the neighborhoods whom our pastors can not build homes for, because they do not have title to the land they are living on.
Remember that you are participating in the long-term mission of the local community. You can also invest long-term, beyond your trip by giving $15 per month to our Amor 365 program.
5. Some examples of gifts
- Make curtains to place in the windows. Don't forget the curtain rods.
- Pots, pans and other cooking utensils
- Blankets (you can find good quality blankets at the Amor Store camp, and remember proceeds go towards Project Hope)
- Bibles and children's books in Spanish
- Soccer balls and children's art or school supplies
- A tool that will help the family maintain the house, like a hammer or a stucco trowel.