While spending time with family and getting gifts are both nice, children need to learn how to give back during the holidays. Though it’s a joyous time of the year for many, there are some kids and adults who may be struggling due to lack of family or resources.
The following is four ways your family can give back at Christmas so your children learn valuable lessons!
- Become a Secret Santa. Many communities offer an event during the holidays that allows families to become a Secret Santa for an underprivileged boy or girl. You get the information about the child, such as clothing sizes and favorite hobbies, characters, etc, and you shop for them as if he/she was your own.
The great thing about this is that it teaches compassion for others. Your children will begin to understand that not everyone gets every toy they want. Some don’t even have proper clothing for the winter or enough food on their tables. Most children are happy to buy for kids that may not otherwise have a happy holiday. Through a quick search I was able to find a great resource on the United Way of Atlanta‘s site. It provides a list of ways (and places) to donate gifts, clothing and toys to children.
The son of a friend, has been doing a coat drive for the past 4 years with this year being the 5th! He has done a tremendous job, and has been recognized for his generous spirit. Anyone can start something like this to help those in their community!
- Volunteer at a soup kitchen. If your family is fortunate enough to have warm meals 3 times a day, offering your time to the local soup kitchen is a great way to give back. Children will see first hand how important it is to help others in the community. Even if they aren’t old enough to handle the food, they can still play with the children that come in, or just talk with the older folks. There are many options in the Atlanta area. I personally have volunteered at both Atlanta Community Food Bank and Project Open Hand.
- Stuff shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. Samaritan’s Purse organizes this event each year around November. The idea is you pick an age range and gender, then fill a shoebox full of items that they want or need. You can add toiletries like toothbrushes and soap, small toy cars or dolls, and accessories like socks, hair bows, or watches.
The shoebox is a powerful thing. Your children will see that some kids in the world don’t get more for Christmas than what you can fit inside the box. It’s a very humbling experience, and one that will make your children want to be creative and give back with gifts that they can put inside the shoebox. My family and I have filled up many shoeboxes over the years. It is fun to find a bunch of little things you can put in each box. Hobby Lobby even has boxes right near their front doors and a means to donate at their stores.
- Visit a local nursing home. Older people who do not have relatives get very lonely, especially during the holidays when others are getting visitors. Children can really brighten the day of the elderly. Take your children to visit a nursing home for an hour or two each week. Have them make Christmas cards before the visit to get them even more excited!
Many wonderful stories have come out of small children connecting with the elderly. Just recently I saw this wonderful story of a little girl who melted the heart of a lonely widower while shopping at their local grocery store. It’s the little things that count!