Christmas is coming and coming quick! With less than two weeks until jolly St. Nick arrives bearing gifts galore, it’s time to get busy.
Most of us have shopping, wrapping, baking and cleaning on our “to-do” lists. Well, I’m going to suggest that we all add another item to that list: Give back.
This time of year makes me realize just how fortunate my family is. We have a house, food on the table and the ability to provide a nice Christmas for our children.
I know there are many families struggling this year and I want my children to understand that not every child will have the same kind of Christmas that they will have. I also want my children to understand that Christmas isn’t just about getting presents, but it is also a time to give back to those less fortunate.
A few years ago I started a tradition with our boys in hopes to teach them to give to those in need. A few weeks before Christmas we go through all of their toys and decide which ones they can part with and we donate them. Sometimes its toys they’ve outgrown and other times they want to give one of their favorite toys because they hope it will make another child as happy as it has made them.
Donating our gently used toys not only benefits a child in need, but it also frees up space for the new toys that my boys will receive at Christmas.
Other ways that we give back is through our school and church. Our school holds a toy drive each year that benefits Whole Kids Outreach, a faith based non-profit organization that services families in southeastern Missouri.
Each student is encouraged to purchase a new toy, around $15, that they would want to receive on Christmas. Our school is able to collect hundreds of toys for the six county area in our own state that benefit from WKO. If your school currently does not have a toy drive program in place, I highly encourage you to look into getting one started next year.
It is possibly one of the simplest ways to make a difference and to teach your children about giving back.
Our church has a few programs in place that allow us to give back, too. In our gathering space there is a “Giving Tree.” Instead of ornaments, the tree has tags with items on it that parishioners can take. The items are donated to Birthright, Our Lady’s Inn and Mary Queen of Angels.
The requests are usually basic items like diapers, bottles and clothing. The first year we took tags from the Giving Tree my boys were humbled. It made them realize that not everyone can afford to buy diapers for their babies.
Another opportunity our church has is the Adopt-A-Family program. Our St. Vincent DePaul Society helps local O’Fallon families in need have a Christmas. While not everyone is in a position to adopt an entire family, you can still help. We join together with a few other people and adopt a family.
While we each might contribute just a few presents, it is always so fulfilling to see the collective effort of our group. By joining forces we are able to give a family a Christmas that otherwise wouldn’t have one.
So, when you are making your last minute plans for Christmas, be sure to add some time to teach your children about giving back. While not everyone is in a position to give back, it is still possible to give in small ways that will make a big impression on your children. The year we bought diapers for the Giving Tree we spent a minimal amount of money, but the impact it had on my boys was priceless.