This post was sponsored in part by Lakeshore Learning and CozyPhones who sent gifts for our local Giving Tree (donations go to children in the boys and girls club). A special thank you to the children in our homeschool book club for raising Walmart gift cards for local homeless shelters and packing giftbags for nursing home residents. Also, to our local community for supporting our charity drives this summer, thank you. You’ve all helped spread a little Christmas Spirit and a lot of joy this year.
During the holidays we talk a lot about lists: things to buy, things we want, things to do. Sometimes, amidst all the hustle and bustle we are caught up in the materialistic aspects of the season. Sure we listen to Linus wax on about the real meaning of Christmas and we put out our nativity set, while listening to Silent Night. But, do we stop and think about what an impact we can have if we shift some of our focus from gifts for loved ones (I know I know- those are fun too) to gifts for people in real need (not just want)?
As parents, we try to do something every year to instill a spirit of giving into our children (and ourselves). This year, we started saving up for our local giving tree over the summer with a couple yard sales and a lemonade stand or two. We sold a couple things we no longer needed (though the definition of need is hard since one of them was a Thomas the train toddler bed that my babe refused to sleep in- but was still hard to part with). That has been our charity fund for this Christmas. Between that and donations from Lakeshore Learning and CozyPhones, we were able to stockpile quite a haul for the Giving Tree this year as well as donate to families who experienced unexpected loss this Christmas.
There are so many ways to make a difference this year, here are my top suggestions:
1. Send money to someone experiencing loss (through unexpected accidents, illness, or financial insecurity- finding someone who needs your help is usually not further than a quick glance at Facebook). One note- do not donate through go fund me if you can help it. They take something like 14% of your donation. Instead use a secure online fund transfer (like PayPal or Square), Caring Bridge (who only charges the 3%ish processing fee), or donate directly if you can.
2. The Giving Tree. I love shopping so this one is fun for me. I love choosing a gift for a local child and know it’s going to brighten someone’s day. Lakeshore Learning sent this adorable bug game and CozyPhones sent four pairs of animal headphones for us to add to our donations.
I have to take a moment out to say both of these companies jumped at the chance to contribute with very little prompting. I love supporting companies that have a good mission and these two are at the top of my list. If you’re lucky enough to have a Lakeshore Learning store near you, drop on by for any last minute gifts. Cozy Phones are a good gift all year long (and my babes even love them as ear muffs). Next time you’re looking for a unique birthday or special event gift, look no further than Lakeshore Learning and CozyPhones.
My church also uses the giving tree to ask for needs for the community. On this year’s list were things like socks, bed sheets, a heating pad, and other necessities. There are many options for this one including Salvation Army trees and toys for tots. Look around, it won’t be hard to find a place to drop your donation.
3. Volunteer. Soup kitchen, the local library, the animal shelter. Pick a place and give back to your community with your time. I don’t do this one enough because, four kids. But, we are visiting a local nursing home with gifts we collected at our homeschool bookclub. Visiting people in need of love and cheer during the holiday is free for you and warms so many hearts.
4. Give to a charity or church. Consider making a special Christmas donation to a charity you trust (like St. Judes or Salvation Army) or give an extra donation to your church. We have a special group called Outreach at our church that helps local families in need. They can always use money and 100% of the profits go to help those in need since it’s exclusively run by volunteers.
5. Spread love with random acts of kindness. Give out Hershey’s kisses at the mall or pay for the person behind you in the drivethru. Elf got it wrong when they said “the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.” They’re right that Christmas cheer isn’t about material things, but kindness, love, and genuine care for others is the surest way to spread cheer.
This holiday season, I hope you’re able to spend it with people you love, a little something special under the tree, and a table filled with smiling faces and full bellies. I also hope that before you celebrate, you think of the lonely, the hungry, and the empty handed. Christmas comes to all, and all it might take to brighten someone’s this year is a little kindness.
And, a note on fashion: I’m wearing this cozy sweater care of Pink Blush. Loving how roomy it is and the cute relaxed turtle neck. It was perfect for a day spent wrapping presents, chasing littles, and running errands.
Sweater: c/o Pink Blush, Jeans: Silvers