When I was a little girl every Christmas season my parents would find a way to give back to the community. One year my dad let me serve Thanksgiving dinner to those less fortunate, for a few years I dressed up as an elf and with the Jolly big guy we went to homeless shelters and handed out toys to kids. This did something to me as a child, it helped me step out of my bubble and into the world. It showed me that my problems were small, and how blessed I was.
Imagine starting the Holiday season, with your family giving your time and service to those around you. I believe that this provides experiences that help shape our kids, into giving adults who want to make the world a better place. Below are some ideas on how you and your kids can give the gift of serving others and truly getting into the real holiday spirit.
I know that this seems cliché however I think of it more as a conversation starter. This is a great way to explain how some kids don’t have a Christmas tree or Christmas gifts like we have. For kids this is huge, its hard to imagine not every house is not like theirs.
Look in your community to help donate toys to or you can pick from this list.
Toys For Tots (https://www.toysfortots.org/) This is the charity I always remember giving to as a child. It was also so much fun to pick out a gift and know that I was helping.
Angel Tree (https://www.prisonfellowship.org/about/angel-tree/) This is another I did as a child. This one made it real for me. Picking a child my age and seeing they wanted basic things help me understand how blessed I am
One simple wish (https://www.onesimplewish.org/ ) This charity helps kids in foster care. This holds a dear place in my heart because my amazing sister is a foster mom and my hubby and I hope to become foster parents too one day. Knowing kids in foster care through my work as a tutor I know that it can be hard for everyone involved this charity seems to help, in ways we can’t imagine.
Helping our military
My mom was in the air force; my dad was in the navy, my sister and husband’s best friend where in the army. As you can tell we are proud that we have so many veterans in our small circle. Although my parents were done with their service by the time I was born, it was instilled in me a since of pride. These are people who put their lives on the line so that we can have the freedoms we enjoy. With the world in such turbulence it is nice to think of our military hero’s at Christmas.
Here are some ways you can help
Solider Angels (https://soldiersangels.org/Holiday-Community-Partners.html) With solider angels you can fill a stocking for those serving over seas. I love this idea so much !
Any Solider:( http://www.anysoldier.com/index.cfm) This charity tugs at my heart strings. With this charity you are sending care packages to soldiers who don’t receive mail or care packages. Imagine serving without the support of family back home. Many of our military men and women do just that. Now think how special it is that you and your family get to provide some comfort to someone who is already doing that for you?
Volunteer at a VA (https://www.volunteer.va.gov/apps/VolunteerNow/) There are a lot of soldiers who could use a smiling face and a friend. Volunteering at a VA gives you the opportunity to serve and become a beacon of love to those who serve our country. If you don’t have time to volunteer you could also donate things like blankets and toiletry’s to the VA.
Every time I would bring my toddler into a assisted living facility, we were treated like rock stars. My daughter was like the grandchild they never had or got to see. Megs would love the attention and the “adopted grandparents” would love to give it. Over the holidays it can be hard for senior’s who don’t have a lot of family or any at all. They can feel isolated and alone. Here are some great ways you can help.
Be a Santa to a Senior (https://www.beasantatoasenior.com/#getting-started) this program is for senior citizens who will probably not receive a Christmas gift. This program works by you finding a bulb on a participating tree, and you get the gift listed on the bulb. Than returning the gift, to the tree. I can’t think of anything sweeter than bringing cheer to someone in a nursing home.
Sharing your time (https://www.seniorcare.com/featured/volunteer-to-help-the-elderly/) Bringing cheer through friendship is something you will always remember. You will be bringing cheer and excitement. You can do fun things such as puzzles, games and even a movie night. You will also teach your kids how it is important to take care of everyone, and how important relationships are at any age.
Love for the Elderly (http://www.lovefortheelderly.org/letters-of-love.html) This is fun if you don’t have a lot of time or like to do crafts with your kids than this might be a good activity for you. This program sends letters and card to the elderly to let them know someone cares. Have your kids draw a Christmas card, or write a quick letter just to let them know you care!
Wither it is helping the young, those serving our country or the elderly; giving back is something that always puts me in the Holiday spirit. Service also helps kids recognize that they can be a positive change in our world.
What are ways you give back and serve during the holiday season?