Friday, November 21, 2008

'Tis the Season for Giving

I've been thinking a lot lately about how I can teach my children to be giving to those around them. Opportunities seem more plentiful this time of year, and with all the gift giving craze - I think it is healthy for them to learn to give to others!

After all of that - I saw this post over at Joy's and received an e-mail from a reader asking for ideas on reaching out and realized I should put all of this in one post so that we can learn from each other. I can't wait to hear your ideas as well!!

It seems there are always lots of ways to give money and organizations who even use that money wisely. We as a family will give financially. However, I find that I really prefer to do something more tangible. Something that takes a little more of myself than 20 seconds to write out a check. Something that involves my family a little more.

Here are some things I've been thinking of:

* Volunteering with our local Salvation Army. I like the mission behind the Salvation Army - but I'm sure that as varied as the places we live, as varied are the missions available for our service. I have volunteered with the Salvation Army in Colorado before - but never in South Carolina. I called earlier this week to find out about the volunteer needs and they mentioned having a toy store that gives toys this time of year - we're waiting to hear if they would allow us to volunteer as a family this year.

* Voice of the Martyrs: I'm planning to use some of my Blessing Fund (thank you, ladies) to do some of these Action Packs.

* Mama to Mama: I've invited some ladies over a week from tomorrow to make hats for babies in Haiti from old t-shirts. Anyone can do get involved!

* Deliver Christmas Cookies: we're already on the schedule at a local nursing home to deliver Christmas cookies. This ties in with a new book out for children that I've been given the opportunity to review and I will have some copies to give away soon!

* Operation Christmas Child: This weekend is the deadline for local collection centers. But, you can still send your box in to the Boone, NC office until December 31. We did our boxes last weekend and our girls have been watching the video about it over and over. Emily was so disappointed to turn in her box at church because she thought she was going to get to give it to the little girl who was receiving it.

* Angel Tree: we had a little girl living with our family when I was growing up for a couple of years whose mother was in prison. Therefore, I have always appreciated an opportunity to participate in this ministry. I haven't heard a single thing about it since moving to the south, but perhaps it is something you could get involved in near you!

* Donate canned goods to the food pantry. Or adopt a family through local organizations.

* Remember your neighbors.

What are your ideas for giving this season? How do you involve your children?


Katy said...

Great Ideas Monica! :)

I, actually, will be collecting shoeboxes at our church (our town's collection center for them) tonight from 6-8. I did it on Wednesday from 4-8. We have gotten tons of shoeboxes in! It is sooo fantastic...I so wish I could be there to watch as the kids open them!

Other than Samaritan's purse things...I haven't thought of many opportunities for giving...but I really need to. Sometimes I feel that I get so busy with things..that I don't focus on some important things...know what I mean?

One thing I have been trying to do is to buy handmade gifts this year to help others and also handmake gifts myself. The kids see this and I know they see it as a good thing! :) But I definitely need to try and reach out more too! Thanks for this post! :)

Anonymous said...

Wonderful post!!! Thank you for a great reminder. So very important for our children to get out side of themselves(good for me too :)) and reach to give to others. We know serveral widows, i love to make a yummy veggie based soup and pack in canning jars to give them. Also here lately we know several families who are struggling because of the poppa's job loss. These will be on the top of our list this year too!!! Our church did do Angle tree (chuck colson's),but i've not heard about it in a while!?? Thanks you again Monica for sharing what this season is all about!!!!!!!!!

Aimless2u said...

You always have such wonderful ideas! I love your blog! We (our church) just planned a Thanksgiving-type Dinner we're boxing up and sending all over town: We have two Children's Homes in town, one privately-owned all-girl home, and the state-run one. The state-run Home is doing an outreach for the youth who have fallen through the cracks and are actually sleeping under bridges! My heart goes out to them and there have already been several people in our church, who are planning on taking one home to stay with them. Praise Jesus!! We are also serving at the Salvation Army, and donating meals to The Ronald MacDonald House, and taking meal-boxes to the homeless downtown. Our children will be helping serve. My kiddos each have a dish they're "making". They are soooo excited!! A few weeks ago, we went to our local Goodwill and purchased hat, scarves, and coats, stopped by Panera and bought a container of coffee and cups, then went to some shelters, handed them out and prayed with people. My 9-year-old said he "was so happy" he "was shaking"!! What a feeling doing God's work gives us! And, of course, we don't forget, if God wants us to be, we could be in that situation in a heartbeat, so I remind my kids over and over, we are not "better" than these people. This is what Jesus did. This is who Jesus hung out with, and that brings it all home for reminds me as well!! :) Thanks again, soooo much for your blog! I look forward to checking it daily!

Wendi said...

We will be making most of our donations to the local food pantry. They are pretty much begging for donations. Lots of jobs lost in my area.

Great post Monica!

Anonymous said...

You got me thinking of some things we can do. I like the idea of making baby hats. Think that this is something my girls can actually help make. We always donate food to the local scouts who collect stuff during the Holiday's for shelters. One year there was a need for sleeping bags and blankets for the homeless. Which we enjoyed gathering and donating what we could. Our schools here always do something right after Thanksgiving where they gather "Toy's For Tots" Which helps needy families with christmas. We will shop for that.

Tracy said...

This week our church packs Thanksgiving baskets for families in town. The boys help/watch us pack them up and they understand it's for people who wouldn't have dinner otherwise.

For Christmas this year we haven't decided yet on the 'big' thing...but everytime we are out we empty out pockets into the Salvation army buckets. We save all our change from shopping that day and put it all in a bucket before we head home.

Jill Foley said...

I got an email from my mother in law about sending a Christmas card to a recovering American soldier....

Here's the address:
A Recovering American Soldier
care of Walter Reed Army Medical Center
6900 Georigia Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20307-5001

I am also a sponsor and advocate for Compassion International. It's an amazing opportunity for families and individuals to be involved in ministry year round. Last year I included a little note in my Christmas letter that said...

Why is it that on Jesus' birthday all the gifts are for us? Jesus said that "whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me" (Matt. 18:5). Give a gift to Jesus this year...give a child hope.

to see children that need sponsors go to

I also plan to take my two daughters to a couple senior living homes/nursing homes and play violin for the residents.

These are my ideas...

Shannon@Idylwild said...

The Operation Christmas Child boxes are so perfect for kids. I'm going to blog about that this afternoon after we drop ours off. Another thing we do is buy Christmas presents for Jesus (it's His birthday after all!). Samaritan's Purse has a's the link
and we let each child pick out one or two things each (my big two pay for their own). We call them presents for Jesus because we know it makes Him happy when we take care of others. I've also used them as gifts for others - my grandparents love to fish for example, so one year we helped to stock a fish pond for thier gift. They have tons to chose from and the kids love to browse the catalog!

A Dusty Frame said...

As a family touched by incarceration, I wanted to thank you for mentioning Angel Tree.
I've written about it a few times, here is one.

The joy on my son's face when he found out his Angel Tree gift was from his daddy made my entire Christmas.
Angel Tree DOES make a difference in lives.

Tracey McBride said...


What lovely, do-able, generous ideas for all of us to give of ourselves during the holidays...and year-round! You are very wise to teach your children the joy found in helping others. When my oldest was in his terrible teens (16) and was in a "feeling deprived" state of mind, a very good friend recommended that we volunteer at a downtown homeless shelter for the holidays. We did and it was almost a Dicken's-like transformation. He suddenly realized that he was rich to have a comfortable & loving home and plenty to eat. Now that he's in his early twenties, he took it upon himself to volunteer at a hospice for AIDS patients. I cannot tell you how proud I am of the young man he has become. And, of course, my two girls (younger) were right there with us...observing and learning compassion and appreciation as well.
What you're doing is so very valuable. I am constantly amazed at your energy and thoughtfulness.
Thank you, yet again, for sharing this with us.

Mary Ann said...

First off, thanks for the link to Mama to Mama. I added it to my post today that's a list of ways to reuse t-shirts!

We do the shoe boxes and donate to different food pantries and food drives around our county. We also give financially to a couple of organizations. We don't have children so we tend to donate to organizations that help children. We see it as a way to invest in children's lives.

As a child, I remember taking plates of goodies to shut-ins at Thanksgiving and Christmas. We also would go Christmas caroling. We were always involved in creating and gathering gifts to send to a home for the mentally disabled. These things were pretty much organized by our church or school, but still were wonderful ways to instill a love for helping others.

I think any kind of volunteering where you are able to have your children alongside you is a great way to let them see and experience the joy of giving.

...they call me mommy... said...

My kids and I did Operation Christmas child as well and are gearing up for our annual fudge gifts for 10 or so neighbors! You've got some great ideas here...we I think might do the Salvation Army too...:-)

Christy said...

I checked with our elementary school's counselor to see if any of the students (families living close by in our community) have any special needs. She says that indeed they have 25 families listed whom they want to sponsor for Christmas. I like that we will have the opportunity to share with folks right here in our community (although we won't know who they are).

momstheword said...

From Oct-Nov. (through our church) we donate food which is distributed to a missionary and needy families within our church or people in our community.

For December: our church has a program in which we are able to buy gifts for local children in need.

We go out as a family and select these gifts for the child. Our kids really seem to enjoy it.

Heather said...

As we make gifts this season, I'm planning to make some for the missionaries we support, too, and their children.

noahandlylasmommi said...

We will be donating some canned goods to our local food bank and I have also "adopted" two children who's families cannot provide them with Christmas presents so we will be dong that. I also want to volunteer at the homeless shelter here and serve a meal so hopefully I will be able to find time to do so. This is a great topic!

Grace said...

It's a little "after the fact" for this year's Christmas, but I posted on my blog about Halloween -the Best Christmas shopping day ever...and how it relates to charitable giving. It was so much fun for our family...and could make a great annual tradition.