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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Saturday, June 22, 2024

Charity needed this holiday season

 The United Nations Development Program estimated it would cost $20 to $30 billion to provide clean water and sanitation universally to the entire world. Contrast that with this number: On average, Americans spend $450 billion every year on Christmas. With 5,000 children dying every day because of water-related diseases, spending $450 billion on Christmas almost seems like a crime.

One of the most daunting problems facing our world today is the global water crisis. Nearly one billion people do not have access to clean drinking water, and even more lack access to proper sanitation. Millions of people die every year because they lack clean water. Unsafe drinking water and poor sanitation cause the vast majority of disease in the world, yet in the U.S., we rarely hear about this tragedy.

If we, as a country, devoted as little as 5 percent of our Christmas expenses to solving the global water crisis, the problem would cease to exist. According to the Advent Conspiracy, a group devoted to using Christmas expenses for charity, it only takes as little as $10 to provide clean water to a child for the rest of their life. If you got one less present for Christmas, that money could be used to save someone's life by providing them with clean water.

Sadly enough, in America, Christmas has become a season for spending hundreds and thousands of dollars on family and friends, most of which results in useless presents that are soon forgotten. Christmas is supposed to be about giving, but that is not what Christmas looks like in the United States. Instead of giving to help out people in need, we flaunt our wealth by giving materialistic gifts to our friends and family, and we receive the same gifts in return. We often give with the expectation of receiving gifts. That is not how giving should look. Granted, not everyone celebrates Christmas, but for those who do, it was never even intended to be about receiving gifts. Giving is supposed to be out of love, because we should feel our time or money can be better used by others who might not be as fortunate. We are supposed to give to others so that they might have better lives. But that spirit of giving is rarely seen in the American Christmas. The fact is that we like presents. We spend a lot of money so our friends, our family and ourselves will be happy.

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The Advent Conspiracy is attempting to bring back the true spirit of Christmas. The idea is that if we spend less on gifts, we can give that money to charities that actually help others. The group encourages people to donate to help solve the global water crisis or give to any charity. The global water crisis is just one representation of the vast need for help in the world. There are thousands of other ways for people to give to others and make a real difference.

Luckily, in the United States we have enough money and resources to help others in need. If you feel that $450 billion spent on Christmas is way too high, then please do something about it. There are endless ways in which we can donate to help others. As citizens of this earth, we need to fight AIDS, malaria, starvation and hundreds of other humanitarian issues. Ultimately, I want you to know you can make a huge difference in the lives of others if you just give a little bit of what you have.

If you are reading this, my challenge to you is to buy one fewer present this year and to give that money to a charity you support. A little bit can go a long way. Remember that $10 is enough to provide a person with clean water for a lifetime. Ask yourself this question: How many gifts do you give or receive per year that you will probably forget about within a week? For many of us, that number is far too high. If we would use that money to help others, thousands of lives could be saved.

James Meincke is the communications chair of the College Democrats. Please send all feedback to

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