Tuesday, December 7, 2010

It's Better To Give Than To Receive...

I have to be honest. This is a tough time of year for my husband and I. We struggle with how much to give our kids for Christmas. We don't want to "spoil" them with so many gifts that they lose the true meaning of why we celebrate Christmas. We know they will get many gifts from family members, and that is wonderful. We want to make sure that we as a family remember that Christmas is more about giving than it is receiving. Here are a few things we've started doing together...

*We go out and do angel tree together. We'll go to somewhere like Wal-mart, and pick an angel off the tree at the front of the store. Then we shop to find a gift that fits that description. It's fun for the kids, and they know they're helping a child get a gift that would not have otherwise gotten one.

*We send money to our Compassion Child- we sponsor a little boy through Compassion International who lives in the Dominican Republic. It's been three years now, and we get letters from him from time to time. We also write letters to him. It's neat to see him grow too- Compassion sends updated pictures of him. The money we send goes for the organization to purchase something for him that he needs. If you have ever considered sponsoring a child, I would highly encourage you to do so! It's only $38/month, and it provides food, clothing, and school for a child. It's awesome.

I'm sure as the years go on, we will add to and/or change the things we do for Christmas. Here are some other ideas that help us to remember it's about giving more than receiving....
*World Vision- this one is way cool. You can actually purchase things like goats, chickens, trees, mosquito nets and even water wells for people across the world. How cool is that to know you could provide food and shelter for the needy! You can also sponsor children through this organization.
*Angel Tree
*Operation Ensuring Christmas - this is really neat too. Here is this organization's mission statement:  "Operation Ensuring Christmas provides financial, moral and rehabilitative support to the Children of Fallen American Troops by providing them Christmas Gift Cards at Christmas and a 'Christmas in July', VIP theme park trip to Orlando Florida. This support is to help them recover from the grief and trauma caused by the ultimate sacrifice a child can make for their country... the loss of a parent in war."
*Toys For Tots-  this is similar to Angel Tree- they collect new, unwrapped toys for needy children in the community
*There are many homeless shelters that are always in need of things. Contact your local homeless shelter and see how you can help.
*Have your little ones make some Christmas cards, and go as a family to a local nursing home. I'll bet you would really make their Christmas special this year by showing you care.
*Oxfam America Unwrapped- this is similar to World Vision. Here's what the website says: "Looking for unique holiday gift ideas? Consider the unusual: plant a vegetable garden for a friend or a set of building tools for dad. Browse our charitable gifts and select a unique gift for your friend or loved ones. Your friends get a card, and the money goes to those who need it most."
"We are an international relief and development organization that creates lasting solutions to poverty, hunger, and injustice. We are part of Oxfam International, a confederation of 14 Oxfams working in more than 90 countries. Together with individuals and local groups in these countries, we save lives, help people overcome poverty, and fight for social justice. "
*Feed My Starving Children- this organization is awesome. We've had the privelage of helping pack meals with our church for them, as well as raise money for the meals. Did you know that one meal for a starving child costs only 19 cents? You can feed 6 children for a month for only $35.00. Wow.
*Volunteer at your local food bank.
*Network For Good- this is a way you can donate online to many many different charities.

These are just some of the ways you can give of your time and resources this Christmas. We'd love to hear if anyone has any other ideas!