It’s the time of year when more people than usual are focused on helping others…and while it would be nice to see this effort sustained more throughout the year, I love to see the spirit of giving that goes along with the Christmas season.
I think lots of people want to help and are either too busy or distracted to look for way to do so. The more I’ve tried to pay attention, the more I realized that you simply need to open your eyes wherever you are, and you’ll likely be able to find an opportunity to give of your time or money.
Here’s a list of things off the top of my head:
1. Every grocery store in our area is doing food drives or asking for donations where you give $1 (or more) at the checkout. Easy, and it’s something you can do while you’re already there to shop for your own family.
2. Clean out clothes/toys that you no longer need and donate them – to Goodwill, to a church or hospital, to a shelter, etc. Your kids can help with this…there’s no need to sneak away their things.
3. Of course, Compassion International is an option. Can’t commit to $38/month? Consider a one-time donation to the Child Survival Program or the Unsponsored Children’s Program, which helps provide nutrition for children while they wait for a sponsor to choose them.
4. Operation Christmas Child (the shoebox program) is over, but Samaritan’s Purse has another great way for you to truly help a family/village in need with their Christmas Catalog. I requested a paper copy of the catalog because I wanted my boys to sit and look at the descriptions of how their gift can help people. It was really cool to see what things meant most to them. For Luke, the idea that a $10 mosquito net could save someone’s life was really amazing. Bennett showed insight beyond his six years when he saw kids without school supplies trying to learn. He said, “Can you imagine how hard it would be to be their teacher and not have anything to give them to write on?” The whole list and suggested donation amount is here in a simple chart.
5. Most churches and many schools do an “Angel Tree” or the like where you can buy gifts for a child in need.
6. Don’t forget Salvation Army kettles! SO easy to drop your change in there.
7. Toys for Tots (new toys), with drop-offs in many locations, including Toys R Us. To find a drop-off location in your area, click here.
8. Last week’s local story of a mother who beat her 13-month-old son to death after he wouldn’t stop crying has brought attention to an organization that can always use more resources: the St. Louis Crisis Nursery. It’s a wonderful organization that is working to help prevent child abuse and rescue families in crisis. You can make monetary donations, or choose items from their wish list.
9. Make fleece blankets – trust me, your kids can help with this. Here are 2 styles to choose from: one (with one piece of fleece and no tying – very easy for even little kids to help) and two (with 2 layers of fleece). Fleece is relatively cheap and can be bought at Walmart, Hobby Lobby, Joann or Hancock Fabric, or whatever local stores of yours carry fleece (on sale you should be able to get it for around $6/yard). These can be donated to shelters or the Ronald McDonald House or many charities who help children in need.
Feel free to share other ideas!