With nine weeks left until Christmas, it’s easy to start filing our mind with travel itineraries, gift ideas, and the weekend holiday plans. But when we expose our family to the world beyond our visible sphere, we infuse our seasonal experience with what the season is really about.
It’s not too early to prepare for charitable giving for the holidays. In fact, when you plan enough in advance, you have the advantage of giving to something you’re truly passionate about, and involving your kids in the process as well.
Megan suggested a few ways to give charitable acts as gifts to your kids. Here are a few ideas to get your children involved in giving to the world around them as the Christmas season gears up.
Operation Christmas Child
This is an annual project held by Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian relief organization dedicated to helping the most desperately needy worldwide. Each season, simple shoe boxes filled with needs and small wants for children are collected and then distributed.
These shoe boxes are a great way to involve your kids, because it’s a hands-on, inexpensive, easy way to help them directly give to another child.
Samaritan’s Purse asks you to fill a box with simple things like school supplies, hygiene items, gum, and small toys — all things our kids understand.
Then your child can decorate the shoe box, print a label designating the box to a specific gender and age group, and then drop it off at a nearby location.
The national collection week for Operation Christmas Child is November 16-23. That gives you a few weeks to create your boxes.
Photo by Peter Rivera
Most grandparents don’t want or need anything for Christmas. Instead of another tie or necklace, have your kids browse the gift catalog at World Vision, and give something in their grandparents’ honor.
You could give two chickens for $25 to a needy family in places like the Philippines. Or you could give education to one child for a measly $32, so that children in Rwanda can have textbooks, paper, and crayons.
I like the idea of giving $350 worth of necessities in the U.S. for $25. This gift would deliver basics like clothing, diapers, and shoes to children in desperate poverty in the United States.
Give your children the immensely rewarding gift of giving to other children. And give your parents the gift of a clutter-free Christmas, with one less item to store.
Habitat for Humanity
All over the world, Habitat for Humanity builds homes for people desperately in need of shelter. If you live in or near a larger city, there is probably a house under construction by Habitat in your area right now.
Small children aren’t allowed to lift a hammer at a Habitat site (with good reason). But they could be lunch volunteers. Each Saturday, you can provide lunch for one of Habitat’s worksites, so that their hard-working construction volunteers can replenish their bodies for more physical work.
Get involved just one Saturday, or commit as a family to serve lunch each week for a season. Check out your local Habitat affiliate to see if they have a need for lunches – head here for the U.S., here for Canada, here for Europe, and here for Asia/Pacific.
Are you involved in a playgroup? Call a local nursing home and see if your group can take your kids caroling one afternoon. Practice a few simple songs like “Jingle Bells” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” and then set aside an hour to visit local folks who could use some holiday cheer.
Children and the elderly typically have a unique bond, one that neither should miss. Make someone’s day, and open your kids’ eyes to the neighbors they don’t always see.
Sack Lunch Drop-offs
Do your kids ask about the people they see at intersections holding cardboard signs? They’re wanting to know why that person is asking for help. Don’t ignore their question — explain that some people have gone through unfortunate circumstances in their lives, and sometimes need a little help.
Photo by Alex Proimos
During the holidays, keep a few simple sack lunches in your car on your errand running day. When your kid spots someone in need at an intersection, offer that person one of your lunches. Use discretion, of course, but a quick offering takes no more than a few seconds.
Your kids can easily help make a few sandwiches, fill a few bags with apples, and provide a cup of water before you leave the house. Then after you give a lunch, talk with your child about the many ways your family is blessed, and pray for that person together.
There are many more creative ways your kids can get involved both locally and globally this Christmas. What are your ideas?