Inside: I believe holiday giving should extend beyond the home. Here, I share some ideas about how to donate to charity for Christmas — including 4 ways my own family tries to share the Christmas spirit.
When it comes to giving during holiday season, we naturally think about what we can do for our loved ones. We think about that perfect present that will make our child jump for joy on Christmas morning or the personalized gift that will bring a tear to our mom’s eye.
And when you see the reaction on the faces of the person you have helped, it makes you feel amazing as well. After all, it is the season of giving.
But the giving should not stop with gifts for one another. Giving is more than buying a new bike for your child. It should extend beyond the home.
There are thousands of people who need help, all year long. That number tends to grow as the holidays approach. And, with the trends in unemployment this year, the number of struggling families is even larger.
Make Charitable Giving a Part of Your Family’s Holiday Traditions
Giving to others is something our family has always done. It is extremely important and it would not be the holidays without it. And the way we do it does not involve serving meals at a soup kitchen — that’s because we want our donation to have a more lasting impact.
When you watch those holiday movies and people are helping and donating, they always end up in a kitchen serving food. That is all well and good, but there is need far beyond Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner.
Charity involves helping those who need help. One meal feeds them today but the socks they get keep their feet warm all winter long.
We do several things to incorporate giving to others into our holidays.
Adopt a Family at Christmas
We have been members of our church congregation for more than 15 years. We always gave and helped but were excited when a new opportunity presented itself — adopting a family.
It struck a deep chord with me because someone adopted our family when I was younger. One day, food and gifts arrived on our front step with just a note. We still have no idea who that mysterious Santa was but have never, ever forgotten how grateful that charity gift made us.
So, when our church offered the same volunteer opportunities to my family, I had to sign up. And now, it is one of our favorite traditions!
We shop and get another family what they need. I ask my kids to help me decide what to get the kids on the list. They are as excited as I am when we get to make that delivery shortly before Christmas.
Help Others With the Angel Tree / Family Giving Tree
We also have angel trees as part of the Christmas decor in our church. But rather than my husband and I selecting which kids to help, we have our children do it.
We tell them to find a young person who is like them in some way. One year, my son found a boy who wanted a guitar as his Christmas gift. He too was passionate about this instrument!
We went to the store to find the one he wanted to give. And rather than us pay for it ourselves, our son also added in some of his own money.
When it was time to drop off our Christmas donations, he carried the guitar in. He laid it beneath the Christmas tree with the other gifts and had a big smile across his face.
He told us how excited he had been when he got his first guitar and hoped this young boy would be happy, too.
A Dollar Here and There Adds Up for Christmas Donations
We are big cash family. We try to pay for everything we can with cash. And that comes in handy during the holidays.
When we walk into a store with a bell-ringer, we donate. Every. Single. Time.
I believe that if I have money to spend in that store, I can spare a dollar for someone else. It may not sound like much but it all adds up.
I never pass up the bucket when I see it. Ever.
It is no secret that my family has strong faith. And, while we do what we can to help with monetary donations, we also pray.
We pray for comfort for those who are suffering this year. We pray for peace for anyone who may be struggling. We ask for safety for those in scary situations.
Prayer isn’t the only non-monetary way you can think about charity. Volunteering is another way to offer help to those in need.
Charity is part of what we do all year long, but we do even more to help others during the holidays. I can’t imagine celebrating without helping others.
Other Ways to Incorporate Charity Into Your Family’s Christmas
Rather than giving someone a physical gift, tell them you’d like to make a charitable donation in their name to their favorite nonprofit organization. This is a wonderful alternative Christmas present that benefits both the recipient and her favorite charity. (You might also be able to write off the donation on your taxes.)
Buy extra groceries or grocery store gift cards and drop them off at your local food bank. Your family can even set up a small fundraising drive in your neighborhood; ask neighbors to donate canned goods. You can collect them all and drop them off in one trip.
Consider buying your Christmas gifts at a charity shop. For example, you can buy unique crafts whose purchase helps the third-world artists who made them. These are great gift ideas that also do good.
You Can Spread Christmas Cheer With a Charity Donation
Try some Christmas charity this year. It doesn’t have to be a lot. Every little bit helps someone in need, and you’ll be happy to see what your donation does to boost your own holiday cheer.
— Tracie Fobes