Giving Back this Season

It’s so easy to get caught up in materialism this time of year. We buy like crazy, hoping to give our family the best Christmas ever; brainstorming how we can top last year. We drive to multiple stores to find that ONE special thing that will likely be forgotten by the New Year. I certainly don’t help matters. I love the thrill of the hunt and revel in finding my readers great deal throughout the season.

But what if for just a small minute we paused, and remembered how many people are in genuine need this winter? Or how good it feels to experience an act of kindness? And then consider how it would feel to take another minute (or afternoon) out of your busy schedule to give a little back? No good deed is too small. This year my family is starting early because when Dec 1 hits it feels like the 25th comes in a matter of days, not weeks. I put together some simple ideas to get your family in the giving spirit, to think outside themselves and maybe make them grateful for the off-brand cordless earbuds they are getting because mama isn’t dropping $150 for AirPods.

  1. Deliver food baskets- Check with your local foodbank. We’ve done this since before our children were born and we do it every year as a family. It is quite humbling to see how much need exists in our own city.
  2. Volunteer at soup kitchen- If delivering food isn’t an option, serving it might be. Often the Salvation Army, churches or other organizations feed the hungry and you can help by serving.
  3. Make and deliver bags of essentials- We’ve done this a few times and again, it’s very humbling. It makes you aware of how much you truly have when you see what a few small things mean to a homeless person. We put together items like gloves, socks, soap, homemade cookies, fresh mandarins, and a note with a prayer and Christmas greeting. Obviously use good judgement if you are going to hand them out to individuals. We take them to a local non-profit, the Gathering Inn, where we know they will be given out and the recipients are so gracious.
  4. Participate in a toy or coat drive- These are everywhere. The easiest place to find something like this is the mall or a church, but often many Christmas events will be collecting these things too.
  5. Support our troops with a care package- Put together a box of treats, reading material, card games, chapstick, etc. We did this through our church so I hesitate to give you a specific online resource. A quick google search will give you information of a lot of organizations who do this if you are interested! My favorite item we include are sauces from Chick-fil-A. If the troops have to eat MRE’s, at least they can have some yummy sauces to add to them!
  6. Leave treats for the delivery people- This is such an easy way to say “thanks for braving the weather all day because I can’t stop hitting ‘buy now’ on Amazon.” A basket of waters and granola bars, small bags of chips, etc. truly make your delivery people’s day.
  7. Surprise strangers or first responders with $5 Starbucks cards- How cool would it be if someone came up to you after a long day at work and said, “go have a coffee on me?” You could be that nice person!
  8. Clean the gutters for an elderly neighbor- Or any small task that you know a neighbor or family member struggles getting done.  
  9. Let someone cut in front of you in line, have the close parking spot, etc.- If all of the suggestions that cost money are outside of your budget, this one is free and there is no limit to how many times you can do it! If you can afford the five minute wait, why not?
  10. Volunteer at church- I go to a huge church that needs hundreds of volunteers for their Christmas services to work on set up/clean up, as ushers, greeters, in children’s ministry, etc. I know, I know. It’s a busy time of year. That’s why we are talking about this now. Ink the time into your calendar NOW. An evening of simple arts and crafts in children’s ministry sounds like a dreamy excuse to relax as Christmas approaches.

Do you have other ideas? I would love to hear them!

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