The holiday season serves as a wonderful opportunity to teach children lessons about charity and helping others. Whether you buy and donate toys, serve food at a homeless shelter or collect coats for a cold-weather project, even the littlest children can get into the act. An encounter with the Salvation Army’s red kettle can start a discussion about how to help people who don’t have as much as you do.
Our church has an angel tree every year; each ornament on the tree lists a toy to buy for a homeless child or some food items to buy for a family who needs it. We pick a couple of ornaments off the tree each year. For the toy, I try to select a child close in age to the boys so they can help buy a present. This year, we bought a nine-year-old boy some LEGOs. Then the boys help me wrap the gift. Again, we use the opportunity to talk about the fact that not all children have homes full of toys, or even homes for that matter.
Opportunities for donating toys abound this time of year. My friend Lourdes and her three kids took toys to a local firehouse for the Spark of Love Toy Drive. Until Dec. 17th, your local Walgreens will take new, unwrapped toys. Toys R Us’s Toys for Tots drive has ended for this year, but keep it in mind for next Christmas.
My sister-in-law, Vicki, and my nieces have put an international spin on their charity projects. Each year they would stuff a shoebox full of toys, hygiene items and school supplies for a needy child overseas though Samaritan Purse’s “Operation Christmas Child.” Vicki would even make up a mini-profile for the child the girls were buying for, so they could create a connection with the child. The collection week for this project is right around Thanksgiving, so I think we’ll try this one next year.
I’m always looking for new ideas. How do you give back during the holiday season?