Needed: Lenten Almsgiving Alternatives

In many places it’s a tradition by now to save one’s pocket change for Operation Rice Bowl, a program run by Catholic Relief Services (CRS). However, CRS unfortunately continues to make bad decisions about how it will use its funding, so I would not want my parishes to participate in their program.

A friend suggested participating instead in a program run by the Holy Childhood Association of the Pontifical Mission Societies. However, not only are their materials very difficult to get (there is a maze of verbiage-laden web sites and no clear ordering page — from what I’ve been able to find), but I am also not convinced that a sufficient portion of my donation would actually be going to the poor. My impression, from another fundraising effort that they run each year, is that they operate with huge amounts of overhead.

Is anyone aware of another program that has an incremental approach (such as saving pocket change in a bucket or box or something) and supports those in need beyond our communities, states, and nation? There are, of course, many fine charities that we can donate to locally, but it is good for us also to think of needs abroad as well. If anyone can recommend any good programs, I would appreciate it.

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