Comparing Two Catalogs

This time of year I get a ton of catalogs.  Well, not really a ton because to be honest I rarely buy anything from them so I usually get taken off lists rather quickly, but I do get some catalogs.  I picked up a few of them and started flipping through while I was eating breakfast one morning.  

These are the two I picked up. The World Vision gift catalog and the American Girl catalog. I must say, that was an interesting start to the morning that really got me thinking about a few things.


Let me start with the American Girl catalog.  I have a 13 year old daughter who has a few American Girl dolls thanks to garage sales. I have never purchased anything from the actual American Girl store other than lunch one afternoon a few years ago when my mom and I took my daughter on a girls day and enjoyed a little after Christmas shopping.  My daughter realized that the $50 gift card that she had received for Christmas could purchase her barely one outfit for her 18" doll. 


Don't get me wrong. I love American Girl. I remember wanting one when they came out when I was a kid and I picked one up as quickly as I could when I found one for $5 at a garage sale. I tucked that garage sale find away one year and it appeared under the Christmas tree for my daughter. I love that the American Girl dolls encourage girls to be girls and provide an opportunity for them to maintain their childhood in the most wholesome way.

However, I don't love their price tag and like I said, I've been lucky enough to score a fair amount of American Girl dolls and their accessories used and at a fraction of the price over the years. While we could afford to buy American Girl doll at retail prices {the average doll will set you back around $120}, we have chosen not to because we would rather use that money so that we can be more generous in other areas of our life. More on that later. 

While perusing the American Girl catalog, the last page has the American Girl promise which says:

We promise to never stop believing in the unlimited potential in all girls.  We're dedicated to creating products, services and experiences that help boost confidence, ignite creativity, and fuel connections. It's our job to remind the world--and girls--how strong, brilliant, and brave they can be.


I couldn't agree more! Especially with that last line.  Let's take a second to break down that promise and see how it is that American Girl is fulfilling that promise with their products.

You can purchase accessories for your American Girl doll that will help normalize life events that an everyday girl has that will hopefully boost her confidence. If your daughter wears orthodontic head gear, you can buy a healthy smile set for $14. If your child is in a wheelchair, your doll can be too for $38. A hearing aid can be added to any doll for $14 and if your child has food allergies, you can buy an allergy-free lunch with safe {plastic} foods and a faux allergy shot for $28. Boosting confidence? Check.

I used to play pretend school all the time when I was a kid. One summer, my best friend and I charged the neighborhood kids $5 a day to go to our school. We even had a field trip to the fire station on our block.

If your daughter loves school like I did, you can buy Mary Ellen's classroom set for $40. It includes a two sided map, chalkboard, stand, pointer and a set of flashcards.  To be successful in school, having a desk and a chair is helpful.  You can get this one for $100. You can even get a school supply set with a backpack filled with paper, pencils and a book for only $30.

I'm a big fan of encouraging music and the arts. You can purchase a music and entertainment set for $85. Or purchase a painting set just for your doll for $36! Ignite creativity? Check.

Does your daughter have an entrepreneurial spirit? Maybe she loves to bake and dreams of one day owning a cupcake shop.  You can get a complete pastry set and cart for $150. The pastry set has a cart with pretend treats and business supplies. If a gourmet kitchen set is something she dreams of, you can buy one for $225. Fuel connections? Check.

There are so many fun creative products available in the American Girl catalog and on their website that every girl is sure to find something that she will love. 

But I couldn't help but notice that while I could buy doll sized accessories that will help "boost confidence, ignite creativity and fuel connections," I could also do the same thing for real actual people purchasing real actual items that would create a lasting impact. 


You know that last line in the American Girl promise statement about reminding the world--and girls, how strong, brilliant and brave they are?  Well friends, I want to remind the world that there are real girls facing real issues that are strong and brilliant and brave. Whose lives could be changed if you swapped out buying a dolls bike with faux leather seat for a real bike for a girl in need so that she can attend school. 




In March I introduced you to a girl named Nerott.  Nerott is a 13 year old girl that lives in a rural town in Zambia.  She wakes up early to help with the chores. Fetching water miles away and carrying that water heavy 50 pound jug on her head home before she starts her 15 kilometer walk {more than 9 miles each way!} to school. It takes her nearly three hours to walk to school and three hours to walk home, in an area that is at high risk for child sacrifice and kidnappings.

She tries to walk with a friend, but because of the lack of clean water in her area, children are often sick and she finds herself walking alone, sometimes at dusk or after dark.


Girls like Nerott could benefit from the gift of a bike.

I know I don't have to convince any of you how important an education can be for a child. Study after study has shown that education is the key to overcoming poverty. I have been able to see inside several schools in rural Africa. This is a very typical school house room. Many children are unable to attend school though because of high school fees.

There is also a teacher shortage. I visited a school in Uganda where the child to teacher ratio was 93 to 1. There are so few schools in most rural areas that children come from long distances.


While having a French bakery with plastic French treats and paper money would be fun, consider how beneficial it would be to fund a micro loan for a hardworking entrepreneur to start, grow or sustain their business.  You will even get an e-mail with the specific details of the entrepreneur you are supporting and updates to track their businesses progress.


You could fund 20 micro loans for an entrepreneur or purchase a plastic bakery for $500. Which one seems more life changing? 


What if instead of purchasing plastic doll items and accessories, we instead bought real items for real girls that would provide the help that a child may need to find their way out of extreme poverty. This time of year we are constantly giving to kids in want but what if we changed that thinking and gave to kids in real actual need?

Why don't we take a second to compare the items available in the two catalogs. 


American girl doll bike made of metal. Fits an 18" tall doll. Comes with woven basket. $115

World Vision will provide a bicycle for a girl that will provide safe, speedy transportation when a girl might otherwise be restricted from attending school because they live too far away or because of the dangers of getting to school. $100


American Girl doll sized wheelchair with wheels that turn. $38

World Vision will help you provide a custom wheelchair to a child affected with a birth defect, disease or injuries after contact with a land mine. $50


American Girl provides a removable plastic hearing aid for your doll. $14

World Vision can provide help for a child with disabilities including prosthetics and rehabilitation. $25


American Girl allergy free lunch includes a berry smoothie, a container of vegetables, and two sandwich skewers {all pretend}, as well as a fabric lunch bag and a {faux} allergy shot and allergy bracelet. $28

Fruit trees provide the vitamins and minerals that a child needs to grow. A fruit tree orchard can produce enough fruit to provide an income in just 2-3 years time for a family living in poverty. Provide 5 fruit trees for $30.



American Girl classroom set includes a two sided 1950's era map, a reversible chalkboard, pointer, easel and flash cards $40

World Vision will help train teachers and get a child the tools to succeed in school. These tools may include school fees, textbooks, uniforms, backpacks and pencils. $35



American Girl solid wood desk and chair $100

World Vision $100 gift towards education will offer things like teaching supplies, textbooks, toys, sports equipment and more. Because of corporate product donations, your gift will multiply 12 times in impact and will provide $1200 worth of school supplies.


American Girl school supply kit comes with book bag, writing tablet, geography reader, a pencil box {with crayons, a ruler, 2 pencils, and eraser and pen} and a report card $30

World Vision promise pack gives you the opportunity to list up a suffering child with a backpack full of basic school supplies, hygiene items and an insect repellent blanket. $22


American Girl flocked hard body goat $20

A healthy dairy goat can give up to 16 cups of milk a day. Her milk provides protein to help children grow and the family can sell extra milk to earn money for essentials like medicine. $75

I could go on and on comparing items, but I think you get my point.

To see more items that you can purchase for real actual children and their families, you can find the  World Vision gift catalog here. 

Last summer I had the opportunity to meet one of our sponsored children and his father in Uganda. Moses was just five years old when we started sponsoring him. He was in poor health and his parents struggled to provide for him and his two sisters. Sponsorship has provided Moses with clean water that is close to his home, an education and proper medical treatment so that he's no longer in poor health.  Moses' parents have received seeds and education on proper farming and business techniques as well as information on animal husbandry. 

What was once a struggling family, is now a thriving family with a bright future. Several years ago, we gifted the family with an extra $100 at Christmas.  Moses was able to buy the suit that you see him wearing in the picture, metal sheeting for their hut's roof, a mattress and mosquito net as well as several farm animals, like this chicken {well, maybe not that particular chicken, but that chicken's grandma...or something like that} that he gave to me as a thank you gift when I visited.

To make the life changing gift of finding a child that your family can connect with personally, consider child sponsorship. If you want to talk about fueling connections, then child sponsorship is the way to do it.  You can find a child in any of the nearly 100 countries that World Vision works in here

We selected children that our family already had some type of connection to. Both of the kids that we sponsor are the same age as our two younger children. Perhaps sponsoring a girl in Cambodia that is at risk for being sold into the sex trade tugs at your heart.  The children of Africa have mine.  

When you sponsor a child, your family is able to write letters, send packages and get updates on the child that you sponsor. There was nothing more special than being invited into the sparse hut that Moses lived in with very few possessions, but when he pulled out a stack of handwritten letters that our family has sent to him over the years tied with twine, I melted. He had kept every single one. 

I knew then that while I couldn't change the world, I could change the world for one child.

I am challenging you today to consider making a shift in your thinking. What if instead of giving your child a gift on their want list, you used the money for that gift instead for a child in need.  Take a peek at the World Vision catalog with your family. Better yet, consider child sponsorship.   

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