As we approach another Christmas season, many of us are bewildered by how much to spend or what we will purchase to bring Christmas joy and glow to family and friends. Economic stability is fragile at best and we are carefully stretching our purse strings to give as much leeway as possible in our spending. Recent marketing surveys reveal that many families plan to spend less this year and have endeavored to plan a more meaningful and selfless Christmas season this year. There are many opportunities to demonstrate social conscience and impact “our little corner of the world” in a positive manner. We have listed some projects in which individuals and families can participate to spread true Christmas cheer. No need to be a Scrooge when we can share our resources with others who have even less than we.
When planning a holiday social event or family gathering, ask your guests to bring non perishable food to donate to a local food pantry or to families who may have recently experienced a misfortune such as the loss of their home, foreclosure, bankruptcy, unemployment, and other such crises. Reaching beyond ourselves to help others is a magnificent way to show forth the Christmas spirit throughout the year. Food pantries throughout the country are running low or have completely depleted their stock of food for distribution. The expense to your guests is minimal and you can still have the traditional gift exchange. Thinking of others is another dimension that can be added to the holiday events in which we participate.
Adopt a day care center. This activity is especially appealing to families with children. Perhaps you can take your children on a shopping trip to purchase books and supplies that the daycare center needs but lacks funding to purchase supplies. Contact the director so that you can be sure to contribute items needed by the daycare center. This activity can be a neighborhood project in which neighbors can pool resources. Imagine the delight and joy that the children receive when they understand that their gifts will help children to have a better learning experience in the daycare center.
Local missions that often are run under the auspices of a particular religious denomination are always in need of clothing for their clients. Some missions have job training programs to help individuals learn the proper way to apply for and interview for jobs. Often these individuals do not have appropriate clothing to wear to an interview. Donating good, fashionable and even new clothing to such organizations is welcome at all times. Missions of all faiths are in need of clothing to give to program participants throughout the year. Consult the yellow pages of your telephone directory or visit the internet to determine the location of such mission organizations in your area to find what the need is and how you can help.
Give generously to longtime charitable organizations such as the Salvation Army, Angel Tree and Toys for Tots to name just a few of hundreds of worthy organizations. You can give online and in many cities, local businesses such as supermarkets have specially designated bins for you to place items that are needed for that particular cause. As always, before giving to charitable organziations, check to be sure the credentials of that organization are valid and that the bulk of the money is going for the cause and not to cover administrative expenses. World Vision International is a Christian humanitarian organization that offers assistance worldwide to families without regard to religious affiliation. They are truly a worthy charitable organization and you can give unusual gifts such as contributing money to buy a well for a village, purchase livestock or seeds to help a particular village become self sufficient. Our family has been involved with this organization for many years. For more detailed information, read my December 2007 article http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/461197/world.
Consider purchasing gifts for a family in your neighborhood that is experiencing difficult times. Each child could purchase a gift for the child in the family closest to his/her age. Some families routinely encourage their children to purchase a gift for another child to teach unselfish, thoughtful gift giving. In a day of “me only” mentality, lessons of sharing and caring can have a lasting impression upon our children and help to shape and mold their lifestyle for years to come.
Consider purchasing toys throughout the year from your favorite toy retailer, store them and then at Christmas donate your accumulated gifts to a worthy organization such as Toys for Tots, Salvation Army or other notable organizations that work with families. Purchasing gifts throuhout the year makes gift buying more “budget friendly” and avoids last minute harried shopping at year’s end.
These suggestions will stimulate other ideas that can be implemented to give of ourselves to others. Imagine the untold joy and happiness that can be experienced if each one of us reaches out to change the life of another individual or family in some small but powerful way. It takes little effort but it brings forth such blessings to those who dare to make a difference. May you and your loved ones be blessed beyond measure during this season of giving and caring as we celebrate the greatest gift given to mankind… our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.