“It is better to give than to receive.”
This is a phrase that is often shared during the holidays as a way to shift our focus from ourselves to those around us. It is a noteworthy phrase that emphasizes service, kindness, and especially generosity.
As the holiday season approaches, we want to consider what it looks like to cultivate a heart of generosity. This is the type of heart that focuses outwardly and constantly looks for ways to help and serve others. This type of generosity is not just focused on material items, but it is also about giving your time, resources, and presence to others.
As we consider generosity this year, we want to give you some practical ways to exercise your generosity in the community around you. While giving back to giant charities and organizations is noble, there is something truly special about serving the community you are planted in. Here are 5 simple ways to give back to your community during the holidays.
There are many families out there who do not have the financial means to provide adequate food on a daily basis let alone for an extravagant holiday meal. A straightforward way to give back to these families is to donate food items to your local food pantry.
Food pantries deal directly with the surrounding community and specifically exist to serve individuals and families who are facing hunger. Providing nutritious meals to these families is vital, but it is also important that those in need feel loved and cared for too.
Volunteering at your local pantry is a wonderful way to connect with those in your community. Not only will you provide a tangible need, but you can also show them love, affection, and care too!
In addition to lacking food, there are people all over the world who lack the financial resources to give or receive gifts of any sort. Many families simply do not have the money to buy their children gifts each Christmas, so many children go without or with very little.
Many different charities serve these specific people but 2 we want to highlight are Operation Christmas Child and The Angel Tree Program. O.C.C. involves donors filling up an empty shoe box with tiny gifts for a child in need. These boxes are sent all around the world and are received by children who typically don’t receive gifts during the holidays. This charity is quite simple and is a great way that you, your family, and even your church can serve children in need.
The Angel Tree Program varies depending on which charity you affiliate it with, but this program operates much the same as Operation Christmas Child but can be geared to your specific community. The way it works is much the same: you are given the profile of a particular child and provide a gift to meet their needs. Many Angel Tree programs even extend their reach to adults, full families, and veterans and provide a way to give to these people in need as well.
The holidays are about so much more than just awesome gifts and turkey stuffing — the holidays are about gathering together. If you look at your surrounding community, not every family looks the same. You have single moms, widows and widowers, veterans, and even college students who don’t have a “traditional family” and may not have anyone to gather with for their holiday meals.
A great way to meet the needs of those facing the holidays alone is to prepare (and even share!) a home-cooked meal with someone. There is something special about what happens at the dinner table. It is more than a place we eat food, it is a place for communion, laughter, stories, and even tears. Sharing a homecooked meal made with love with someone is one of the most beautiful gifts you can give this holiday season.
We may not often realize that there are those in our community who are in a sense sequestered from everyday normal life than we might experience. Many of these people spend their holidays alone and maybe even without much holiday cheer at all. A great way to give back to these people is to send them an uplifting and thoughtful message through a holiday card.
There are countless different places you can send your holiday cards. To name a few, you can send cards to nursing homes, children’s hospitals, prisons, homeless shelters, military bases, and more. The aim of sending these cards is to give these men, women, and children just the smallest bit of hope as they face heartache, sickness, and loneliness.
The holidays are often marked by all of the material items we receive through gift-giving. We receive new items and our stuff just sort of falls by the wayside. However, many people don’t have the luxury of excess.
Just as with food supply, many people struggle to even put warm clothes on their backs during the more frigid winter months. A wonderful way to give back tangibly is to donate some of your gently used clothing and other household items.
You can donate your items to local clothing donation centers, The Angel Tree Program, or even through a small clothing drive that your church or family coordinates. Furthermore, if you know a family in need, consider donating directly to them if you are able.
There are countless ways to give back to your community during the holidays. Whether it is through a tangible need for food or clothing, a generous gift, or even simply a shared homecooked meal, we are sure that your community will be affected for good by your generosity!
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