Friday, November 18, 2011

Being a blessing during the Holidays

Two or three years ago, I was asked to write about helping those in need at Christmas.  That post had so many responses, I thought I'd post it again as the economy has not become any better.

Most likely, you have friends or family who are going through financial stress.  (Next week I'll revisit the "sister post"... how you can give this Season when you think you have nothing to give.)

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).

- 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. :)

9 comments:

jAne said...

worthy and thoughtful suggestions, brenda. so thankful for the generosity of others when my little family went through truly challenging times. we learned so much (spiritually and practically). we're praying the Lord would use us in blessing others, not only through the holiday season(s) but throughout the year, for the needs don't magically disappear! bless you dearly.

Scrappy quilter said...

I love this post...such great advice. Hugs

Terra said...

Perfect post.
I filled a Shoebox a few days ago, that is a great program. I think the website is http://samaritanspurse.org
It is fun to shop for the little toys and supplies for a child that I don't know.

Vee said...

Practical suggestions are invaluable at this time of year. I'm going to link to this post on a post I did with a forward that was going around. Your post provides even more suggestions.

Mrs.Rabe said...

This is a great post, Brenda.

Such good ideas, and such a good way to teach our children to think about giving!

Deanna

Anonymous said...

anonymous:

Love,love this post and it illustrates your giving heart! One way to give semi-anonymously to a family: Thru FB I have learned of a family in dire circumstances. I asked for and got their address and we sent a very very very modest financial gift. Someone else has sent them a gift totally anonymously. Now that we have their address, we can send a much larger gift without them knowing who. (Loss of jobs, car tore up, and teenage son has been hosptialized with anxoreia. And it goes on.)...just a thought if you want it to be anonymously but you don't go to church with them, etc.

thanks for this great "rerun" Brenda...blessings!

TheNormalMiddle said...

All really, really good ideas. :)

You can never go wrong when you give out of a grateful heart and truly do it to bless someone.

Lindsey

Tracey McBride ~ Frugal Luxuries® said...

Such a lovely post Brenda...so thoughtful and such good advice ...points us in the right direction to help in large or small ways! Blessings to you and your family my sweet friend.
Love,
Tracey
x0x

Anonymous said...

Great suggestions. We always give some home made goodies to my in- laws because she isn't well enough to bake anymore.