I hope you had a good Thanksgiving. We went out for a fun celebration today, thanks to a gift card given by our pastor. Not only did we enjoy our meal "out" but it meant less dishes for me! Now, that is a a real gift. :)
Which reminds me, I've been asked so often what one can do to reach out to others during Christmas. I've been hesitant to write about it because I don't want anyone to think I'm asking for something. However, knowing so many people are in need right now, I thought I'd answer questions.
I can not begin to tell you what your giving may do for an individual or family. Don't ever underestimate giving... whether a small amount or a larger gift. You are the hands of God in another's life for you are the answer to prayer.
Your gift may keep another from the depths of despair and help them realize God loves them enough to place their needs on another's heart.
- Don't ever feel you will offend someone by giving. Many people in this economy are praying for help and you may just be the answer to those prayers.
- Don't assume everyone is getting government help, most are not. Even if they do receive some government assistance, it usually is not very much... at least with the people I've known.
- Don't judge those who are in need. There for the grace of God Himself... you may be someday.
- Even if another person or family is in need because of their own actions... remember the children. There are ways to directly help the kids.
How can you help?
- Cash, money orders, gift cards, wrapped gifts... all are good in different circumstances.
- Cash or a gas station gift card are always needed by those in need.
- Moms and Dads with limited (or no) income would love a chance to shop for their kids gifts. By giving a gift card as early as this week, you will be the answer to a parent's prayer.
- If you are concerned about your gift going to the children, offer to take a parent (or older sibling) shopping and hand them a gift card to the store when you arrive or pay for the items yourself - or- shop for groceries or give a gift of a grocery store gift card (some stores will not allow alcohol to be purchased with gift cards).
-If you know what a person loves, give them a wrapped gift. So many people in need have nothing under the tree Christmas morning.
- If you want to give a gift of cash but remain anonymous, ask your pastor if the church can act as a "middle man"... you give the check to the church and then they cut a check for the family. We received a couple of gifts like this in past years. Of course, we spent the day wondering who the giver was. :)
- Otherwise... don't worry about being anonymous.
- Provide a gift subscription to their favorite magazine which they will enjoy each time it arrives.
- If a family in need are close friends whose company you enjoy (and they enjoy spending time with you), then take them out for a special meal together. Let them know ahead of time that you will be paying and that their friendship is the only gift you want from them. If needed, provide a babysitter. :)
-Even fast food gift cards are wonderful for those with limited income.
- Elderly friends would love a gift of service... mowing the lawn or clearing snow off the walkway; a few baked goods; an offer to drive them when needed; an offer to fix something broken around the house (if you have skills)... often their needs may not require money but someone with more physical ability and youth. :)
- Purchase tickets to a special concert or the Nutcracker Ballet for those who love music.
- Teenagers would love a gift card or certificate to their favorite clothing store, which will go even farther in after Christmas sales.
- If you want to go together with more people to assemble a huge blessing... a wonderful gift is to put together a few gift cards... examples: a grocery store, a favorite restaurant, Target, Meijer, or Wal Mart, a bookstore or Amazon (if you know they have computer access), a favorite coffee shop, a movie theater, gas station, hobby or sewing shop, gourmet or tea shop, etc.
- Never ever think a gift is too small. Even $5.00 placed in a card may provide milk for the children.
- Of course, it is so much fun to do the shopping yourself for others and arrive at their home with the gifts already wrapped.
- Give a gift to a friend's pet from your own... kibble, canned food, and kitty litter are always welcome (although in the case of pets, it is a good thing to ask what brands they use since some animals only eat what they are used to... a lot like teenagers).
- We were blessed this year with a turkey and canned goods (although I ended up putting the turkey in the freezer to have for Christmas since I was not well).
- Remember strangers this time of year. Many homeless shelters have programs where people can give practical "gifts" to those in need. Quite often the Salvation Army can help locate a good place to give. Also, pastors and youth leaders often know specific needs where you can give while remaining anonymous.
- We loved to assemble the Christmas Shoeboxes when Christopher was younger. Most cities have various Angel Trees and similar programs to purchase for families in need.
I must admit it is more fun to be the person doing the giving. When we had the opportunity, I loved putting together something fun for friends going through a hard time. :)