Gifts That Give Hope

By: Tess Black

Eight. That seems to be the magic number, at least according to the United Nations as well as author and social justice activist Mike Yankoski. Both the U.N. and the author are focusing their efforts on the following eight issues: poverty and hunger, universal education, gender equality, maternal health, HIV/AIDS, environmental stability, child health, and global partnership.
One local organization, Gifts That Give Hope, is dedicated to helping existing nonprofits already in place whose purpose aligns with the U.N. and its goal to address these eight issues. Gifts that Give Hope will bring Yankowski to Lancaster to discuss his newest book “Zealous Love: A Practical Guide to Social Justice.”
You may be asking “Ok, what is this number eight business about?” Eight is the number that is the foundation for the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) program. These goals aim ultimately to end poverty by the year 2015 and deal with matters deemed to allow poverty to exist. The first of these goals, to eliminate extreme poverty and hunger, is divided into three specific measurable goals. According the U.N., the targets of this goal are to halve the number of people whose income is less than a dollar a day; achieve full, decent and productive employment for all, including women and young people; and halve the number of people who suffer from hunger between 1990 and 2015.
The second overall goal is achieving universal primary education. More specifically, the U.N. wants to ensure that children everywhere will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling by 2015. The third goal is to promote gender equality and empower women, while, the fourth goal is to reduce the child mortality rate. The fifth goal is to improve maternal health by reducing the maternal mortality ratio by three quarters and achieving universal access to reproductive health. The sixth goal is to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases. Tuberculosis is fairly uncommon in the U.S., but in other regions it is the second leading killer after HIV/AIDS. The seventh goal is to ensure environmental sustainability. The final and eighth goal is to develop a global partnership for development. This goal is mainly focused on the development of a better trading and financial system. [Please see side bar story for further details on the U.N. Millennium Development Goals.]
For the U.N. these goals and concerns are important to their overall cause, but what connection do they have to an author? Mike Yankoski’s second book, co-authored by his wife Danae Yankoski, is entitled “Zealous Love: A Practical Guide to Social Justice” and connects him to the U.N.’s MDGs. Yankoski is a social justice activist who in his book, brings to life eight issues that he thinks need improvement. Yankoski’s book outlines the following issues: human trafficking, unclean water, refugees, hunger, lack of education, creation degradation, HIV/AIDS, and economic inequality. The issues discussed run parallel to the goals presented by the U.N. The book does not give immediate solutions to these goals but it does offer the public basic knowledge and the first steps that can be taken to help.
According to Professor Marilyn McEntyre; whose review of the book can be found on the inside flap, “The stories gathered here invite us not only to hear and reflect on the lives of those who suffer, but to particate, in entirel possible and practical ways, in the great work of healing. No one will emerge from these readings unchanged or unchallenged, or uncertain of what to do.” By opening eyes to the social injustices that occur, Yankoski hopes to inspire even the un-inspirable into action with his opening paragraph: “Are you passionate about working for social justice and living a more just lifestyle? Perhaps you want to care about social injustice, but don’t know where to start when there are so many needs in our world. All of us- regardless of our religion or political convictions-want to live life well.”
Gifts That Give Hope (GTGH) is an organization whose mission is to provide the opportunity for holiday shoppers to skip traditional gifts and instead, make donations in honor of a loved one or friend. Donations can be purchased at Lancaster’s annual gift fair, which will be held on Sunday, November 20th at the Farm & Home Center, created by GTGH. A variety of local, national and internatiaonl nonprofits participate in the fair, which allows people to purchase donations for different organizations all in one place. According to the GTGH newsletter “GTGH supports non-profits whose services further the following objectives, both locally and internationally, as outlined by the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals.”
Through sponsorship of Yankoski’s speaking event, GTGH wants to raise awareness about social justice as well as to promote year- round alternative gift giving. GTGH is a way in which one person can make a difference and allows one person to accomplish goals set to improve the world. You can help keep the magic in the number eight by making it the number of social injustices eradicated and the number of U.N. goals accomplished. Poverty and misfortune are not hopeless causes. Start making a difference today, give a gift of hope.