Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas Charity Ideas

Each year we participate in several Christmas charities. I thought it might be an interesting post to highlight some of our favorites. If you are like I was and desire to give but are not sure where to begin, I suggest starting out small. Take that first step; perhaps pick out a gift for a child from the giving tree at a store. As finances allow, add something else. God will bless you for sharing with others!

We sponsor two children through Compassion International, and at this time of year we send extra money for gifts. Christmas funds are pooled and divided up to buy presents for all the kids, even those still waiting for sponsors. One time donations are welcome!

A couple of years ago we stuffed ten stockings for a local men's homeless shelter through a homeschool organization. It was lots of fun! We bought most of the items in bulk, which brought down the cost. Wal-mart and Costco were great for personal hygiene items, candy and hat/scarf sets. We included small bibles, wooden puzzles, and Christmas cards with a hand-written note and gospel tract. Everything was wrapped in festive tissue paper, which I purchased in a jumbo pack. We filled the stockings assembly line style with all of us helping, even our son who was around five. This is a good project for the entire family!

Last year we started a new tradition of picking gifts from Partners International, a ministry begun in 1943 that works "alongside national believers to bring Christ's love and compassion to the least Christian regions of the world." They have a nice, full-color catalog with things like: Well for a Village, Cambodia; Training for a Church Planter, China; Milk and Cereal for a Child, Senegal; Small Business Training, Mali. Each item includes a photograph and description. We agreed ahead of time on the amount and enjoyed sitting down together "shopping." There is a wide range of gifts to fit any budget from $5 for medicine all the way up to $6,000 for a village grinding mill. We plan to do this on Sunday.

Greg's company has sponsored 2-4 families for Christmas the past few years. They have fund-raisers such as a silent auction and a pancake/spam feed. There is a Tree of Sharing with the names of family members, or employees can donate money directly. The funds are used to purchase any gifts for any names left on the tree, groceries, and as a monetary gift for the family.

I think this was the most fun charitable thing I've ever done. Greg brought home two tags for a nine-year-old girl. Our son is nearly nine, so I have a good feel for that age. Plus, I always wondered what it would be like to have a daughter (even though I adore our son!). One tag said, "Age appropriate game." I visited a game store and picked out a 550 piece family puzzle and a game called "Apples to Apples Jr." for ages nine and up. We have enjoyed the adult version (offensive cards removed, of course!), but Kylen had trouble joining in due to some complex words and concepts, which we were constantly needing to define. So I think this would be a great family game! In fact, it's going on our own wish list!

The other tag said, "Dress and tights." First, I looked at Wal-mart where we get most of our clothes. They did not have ANY dresses or skirts other than a few VERY ugly ones. So Greg dropped me off at JC Penney, and I eventually found a pretty black dress with ruffles, matching jacket, and black tights. That's when the fun REALLY began!

I had lots of extra time to kill, so I decided to hunt for accessories. Just a few stores down was Claire's. What an awesomely fun, FUN store!! Chock full of inexpensive hair doo-dads, fancy lip gloss containers with delicious names, jewelry (great place for a cheap tiara if you ever need one!), and lots of marvelous stocking stuffers for any girl. I found a cute black purse with glittering silver stars, chocolate chip cookie lip gloss, a small black/pink stuffed animal, black hair decorations, and tiny silver stickers that could be worn on a cheek or fingernail. OK, and I spent WAY too much! But it was totally worth it! And next year I hope to do it again, Lord willing and if finances permit!


Anonymous said...

We try to participate in Operation Christmas child and our church does something called Christmas in The Street where people in the church donate new items that we allow kids to pick out for free. We wrap them and everything. It is a neat experience.

Jan Lyn said...

I love your emphasis on charity during the holiday season as well as the true meaning of Christ's birth. It's great for your son to see your example and be part of it.

Loving your photo too!

Peace to you and your family,
Jan Lyn