Photo by Sue
Christmas is a great time to serve your community, your loved ones, and those less fortunate worldwide. It’s vital to teach your children about the condition of most people in the world, and it especially hits home when those in their own community live with less.
But you know what I’ve found? We grown-ups need the reminder just as much as our kids. In our fast-paced lives, it’s easy to speed past the world and forget how truly fortunate we are. As you change diapers and crunch Cheerios under your feet all day, there’s nothing quite like giving to remind you of your blessings.
We often have good intentions to give, serve, and volunteer during the holidays. But the season sneaks up on us, and before we realize it, we haven’t made the plans or set aside the time – and those good intentions remain just that.
I encourage you to explore options now to serve as a family, and to set a plan on your family’s calendar.
A Few Options for Serving as a Family
• Operation Christmas Child with Samaritan’s Purse – This is a great option to do with little children, because they can help out first-hand. Simply fill a shoebox with little toys, hygiene necessities, and school supplies, then label it appropriately for the right age and gender. Download the labels and find gift ideas on Samaritan’s Purse’s website.
• Christmas Gift Program, Compassion International – Donate a small amount (they suggest around $18) towards ensuring that every child in Compassion International’s child development centers has a gift to open on Christmas Day. You can further the learning experience with your kids by fasting for one meal together as a family, and explaining that you are putting the money you’d normally spend on a meal to buy a Christmas present for a child on the other side of the world.
• Find out if there’s a clothing or food drive at your child’s school, and participate together as a family.
• Many churches have gift sponsoring opportunities during the Christmas season. Sponsor a family together, and use the opportunity to go shopping with your kids and explain what you’re doing.
• Keep small, non-perishable food snacks in your car, and when you see a homeless person at the intersection during a red light, give them a small amount. If your children are in the car with you, explain why you’re giving the food to him or her.
• Set aside funds for a uniquely large tip for a waiter or waitress at a restaurant. When you get great service from someone with a great work ethic and a cheerful attitude, nonchalantly leave them a big tip. It will completely make their day (trust me, as a former waitress), and your kids can experience giving first-hand.
• There are so many local opportunities in most cities – you can gift wrap, organize donations, clean, serve food, and play with kids. Search your local area online for ways you can serve your community, and do what you can to involve your kids. Do Something and Charity Navigators are just two search options.
How does your family serve together? Do you make it a priority to volunteer in some way during the Christmas season? If you have a charity or organization to recommend, please share it in the comments – I’d love to hear more ideas.