The Christmas season is all about giving. Hopefully, as we consider the wonder of the gift of the Christ child, we will be motivated toward generosity as well. December is full of making gift lists and searching for just the right presents for our loved ones. It can be time consuming and stressful and even rob us of some of the joy of the season.
One way to turn our hearts back toward gratitude and generosity is to look at the true needs around us and give toward meeting someone else’s need. It may take a bit of research, but with just a little digging, you are sure to find plenty of real needs in your community.
12 great ways to give this holiday season:
1) Give to a local food bank. Many communities have food banks and some churches do as well. They welcome donations and will often publicize their high needs. This is an easy way to give as a family. Take your kids to the grocery store and help them fill the buggy with food for others.
2) Make Blessing Bags for the homeless in your community. You can find lots of ideas on the internet for these bags filled with supplies. We made some one year as a family and kept six in our car so each time we saw someone with a sign on the side of the road asking for help we could stop and offer them a Blessing Bag. Ours was a gallon sized Ziploc with a water bottle, socks, granola bars, beef jerky, a washcloth, small toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant and a $5 bill. This is a fun activity to do with your small group or a group of families. Each family can bring enough of one of the supplies to make a certain number of bags. Then each family goes home with 5 or 6 bags to give away during the year.
3) Assist with Meals on Wheels. This is a ministry that takes hot meals to the elderly or shut-ins who cannot go out of their home. They organize the making of the meals each day, and then volunteers deliver them to individuals who have signed up for the meal. It allows these individuals who have few visitors to have a face-to-face visit and a hot meal, providing nourishment for their body and soul. People can donate to help out financially or volunteer to deliver meals.
4) Adopt a child to bless this holiday from the Angel Tree Christmas through Prison Fellowship. This ministry asks people to pick a child who has a parent currently incarcerated and buy a Christmas gift for him/her off of their Christmas list. Many of these children not only are separated from their parent but also often have limited resources that allow for Christmas presents. These children could definitely use a blessing and to feel celebrated and seen during Christmas.
5) Visit your local nursing home. Most nursing homes welcome visitors. Not all of their residents have family come visit so the holidays can especially be a lonely time. To have people come in to share some holiday fun can most definitely lift their spirits. You could make Christmas cards and deliver them personally or go caroling door to door inside the nursing home. Even going to read to the residents or play card games will bless not only them but also you as well!
6) Give to a clothing closet. Christmas is a great time to clean out your closet and give to your community clothing closet. There are community organizations and churches that will host a once a month open community closet where individuals with clothing needs can come and shop for free clothes from the closet. They welcome donations of all sizes because they have both adults and children come. It is especially a blessing when people bring clothes that are very gently used and in good condition so the folks shopping feel respected and excited to shop from the nice options instead of discarded clothes that are falling apart.
7) Find out the name of a safe house in your community and find out what their needs may be. You may have to ask your church or even someone from the police department to find a contact number. These houses are very well hidden and most people should not know where their physical location is because these homes shelter women who are escaping abusive relationships. Many have to go into hiding for a time while they remove themselves from the abuser. They often come with their children with literally only the clothes on their backs, so they generally have many needs. You could offer to connect with the staff who volunteer and run the safe house and provide a Christmas tree, gifts or gift wrap for the residents. Gift cards and household supplies are usually a huge blessing to these individuals.
8) Volunteer at a soup kitchen in your community. There are usually homeless shelters or churches that offer meals during the week to the homeless in your community. You could volunteer to help cook or serve or simply offer to help out financially or with supplies. The real blessing though is when you can go serve and meet those coming to eat the meal. It is very impactful to sit and share a meal with them and hear their stories and celebrate the holiday over a meal.
9) Contact the crisis pregnancy center in your community to find out their needs. Many of these centers always need supplies like diapers, wipes, blankets, bottles and baby clothes. They usually would love to have Walmart gift cards to offer the mothers who come to their center. However, they may have certain women that have specific needs, especially during the holidays and you could meet that need.
10) Contact a guidance counselor at an elementary school in your community and ask them for information about a family in their school that could use help this Christmas. They likely have many names of children who they would love to have someone bless this Christmas. Most schools have families that won’t celebrate Christmas at all because they simply are struggling to afford heat and food. What a way to bless someone by paying their electric bill or providing money for groceries or simply a few gifts.
11) Contact a homeless shelter in your community and provide paper products for the month. These ministries can almost always use paper towels, toilet paper, napkins, etc. They may also have other tangible needs that would be easy to meet with a simple trip to the grocery store.
12) Contact your local hospital to see if they partner with a Ronald McDonald House or have their own ministry that helps families that have loved ones staying long-term at the hospital. Many times hospitals have a house where families can stay close to the hospital. You could offer to help decorate the house for Christmas or bring Christmas goodies, serve a hot meal or even help with repairs or yard work. This ministry is an incredible blessing to families that are often far from home during the holidays while their loved one is in the hospital. It is a blessing to provide some Christmas cheer during a very difficult time in their lives.
The incredible thing that happens when we give from our time and resources to bless someone else is that we receive the biggest blessing. It is a Christmas miracle the way the Lord turns our giving into receiving.
Hopefully you can choose one new way from this list to bless someone and be blessed by giving this Christmas.