We have fallen on hard times here in the United States. With the crashing housing market, the rising costs for food and fuel, and no end in sight, the economy has definitely taken a turn for the worse.

In hopes of stimulating the economy, the Congress and President Bush are sending you and me a stimulus check. Six hundred dollars for every person in America earning more than $3000 delivered to our front doors. The Government wants you to spend all that money on something shiny. They want you to go to Target, Best Buy, or Home Depot and buy something for yourself, acquiring more stuff.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I need more stuff. I am pretty sure I need to be reducing my stuff intake. Thankfully, there are other ways to spend that money.

Many financial planners want us to remember that this is not free money; this is our money. This is money the Government took from us in the form of income taxes. These financial planners recommend spending your stimulus checks just like you would spend the rest of your paycheck. Instead of going on a spending binge and getting your kids (or yourself) a video game system, or getting your house some new drapes, be responsible with your money. Pay down your debt and invest in your retirement.

But don’t forget to devote some of your money to peace and justice. When the economy takes a down turn like this, the first to get hit are not the corporations, but rather those in the Non-Profit sector. Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO’s) work hard, functioning off of shoestring budgets, and require donations to get their work done. When people start tightening their belts and reassessing their budgets, the first expenses to go are often donations. The number of donations to NGO’s have stayed steady, but the overall amount of money in donations has already declined. The effects of this economic downturn have already come to the non-profit sector. Many great organizations here in Washington DC and all around the nation have started to cutback on their program staff. Hardworking people devoted to peace and justice are losing their jobs.

Please, instead of going out and buying a new IKEA bedroom set or plasma screen TV, consider giving to the non-profit sector instead. With this check, you can stimulate the economy and support peace at the same time. And even if you do not or cannot devote all $600, please give a little. I am using most of my check to pay off student loans, but I am still going to disperse $100 from my stimulus check to organizations I feel are doing a great job working for peace and justice both here in the US and the world at large.

Here is just a selection of organizations to send your stimulus check to:
UUA’s Now Is The Time Campaign-devoted to growing our faith
UUSC– Decide if you want to give to the Myanmar Relief Fund or to the whole organization
FCNL– Quaker advocacy organization devoted to peace and human rights
World Wildlife Fund-Protecting endangered species
Fellowship of Reconciliation– Interfaith peace organization
Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice– Faithful pro-choice organization
North American Street Newspaper Association– Giving a voice and jobs to America’s homeless
World Hunger Year– Supporting food banks
Or your home congregation

About the Author
Alex Winnett

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