Christmas is what we make of it.
Enjoy the experience of Giving!
Despite all the distractions and the world's busy life, we can make Christ the center of our celebration by becoming more interested in people
than in things
. The spirit of Christmas is the spirit of love, generosity and goodness.
If our Christmas gift list includes service to those who badly need help, as well as to friends and family, then our giving can be complete. Remember, the poor and needy are among us 12 months of the year.
This joyful season brings to each of us a measure of happiness that corresponds to the degree in which we have turned our minds, feelings and actions to the Spirit of Christmas, loving both God and our neighbors as ourselves.
- Plan ahead. Many people want to volunteer during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, so volunteer needs are often filled early. Sign up well in advance. Small numbers of walk-in volunteers can often be accommodated at the last minute.
- Organize on your own. While many organizations need help on location, most also offer opportunities for volunteers to help on their own time and in their own neighborhood. Call an organization or visit its website for ideas, such as what items are needed for a clothing drive. There are many ways to help, and everyone can do something."
- Involve children. While many organizations offer kid-friendly opportunities to serve, parents need to use discretion. Some activities have age restrictions, and others may be physically difficult to manage with children, because it is challenging for parents to watch their own children.
Volunteering at a dinner is good for kids to see that there are people struggling in their community, and to teach them compassion. Again, parents need to be aware of their children and supervise them well.
Many schools (elementary, junior high and high schools) host organized holiday giving opportunities such as food drives and coat drives. Parents can get their kids involved with whatever their school is doing.
Help kids learn the importance of taking a little bit of their allowance or raising a couple of extra dollars by doing additional duties around the house, to buy something special for another child. Any kind of giving and a lesson around giving that we can share with our children will help cultivate the next generation of donors.
- Give service all year. We have people in need all year round. Help is often desperately needed during the summers, when volunteers are busy with summer activities.
- Shop with a young or disadvantaged child, helping him/her select gifts for himself and his family.
- Invite Santa to visit a shelter where children are living. He can mean the world to children who don't think Santa knows where they are this year.
- Wrap gifts or help fill food boxes for one of our community centers.
- Help an elderly person decorate their homes for the holidays; and then, help take down the decorations after the holiday.
- Adopt a needy individual or family for Christmas, providing dinner or gifts. To make it more fun, do it anonymously. Plan to do a small service for them for each of the 12 days before Christmas.
- Identify someone that will be alone for Christmas. Invite them to attend a church service with you on Christmas Day.
- Find a picture of Jesus Christ that inspires you, and place it in your home where it can serve as a reminder.
- Give a simple gift to your mail carrier to raise spirits during their busiest season.
- Participate in a local sub-for-Santa for a family that could use some holiday cheer.
- Plan a special Christmas Eve program with your family and friends.
- Start a new neighborhood tradition,
being mindful of the needs of others. As a neighborhood, instead of
trying to think up clever gifts or making Christmas treats to give each other, ask your neighbors
to consider serving others this year. Organize a service project that would involve every family member in service. Find one or more
families who need your help; then, ask the children in those families to
give you a Wish List.
Pull resources together from your
neighborhood, and put Christmas together for these families. Children
can help with the grocery, toy and clothing shopping, as you involve
them in a meaningful, memorable project of love, teaching them the
importance of charity.
Gather as neighbors to wrap gifts and pack up groceries and candy. Give your hands and hearts to those in need.
Other neighborhood projects could be –
Gathering cans for the Food Bank
Gathering hats, scarves and gloves for the homeless
Gathering toys for a women’s shelter
Donating money to a charitable organization on behalf of the community.
not everyone has a joyous Christmas, and needs do not disappear the day
after Christmas. Be mindful of the needs of others all year long.
Find ways to serve others throughout the year, and lose yourself in
service to others.