Saturday, November 01, 2014

Pantry Lifestyle: Being a Blessing During the Holidays

My neighbor's barn in winter.
This is one of my most shared posts from over eight years of blogging.  I have reposted it a few times and thought now would be a good time, as we are just beginning to think of that Holiday Season, to bring it out again.  It was written in a response to an e-mail asking how they could help out a friend at Christmas without offending them.

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. :)


Vee said...

In time to be very helpful to those of us who wonder how to do a thing. I remember some of the simpler gifts with tenderness...often they were more meaningful than larger gifts. Is that snow in real time? I was just visiting Penny at The Comforts of Home and she has snow already in North Carolina. Yikes!

Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

This is such a good post, Brenda. Timely.

It is so delightful to give to others, to be the hands and feet of Jesus. You have given us such great ideas of how to go about it.


Terra said...

This list is WONDERFUL and chock full of ideas that anyone can do. Cute to give pet food from one pet to another. We do the Christmas shoebox every year, it is fun to fill them.

Nana said...

Hi Brenda;
Love this post!! I have been on the giving side and also on the receiving side of gifts. You will never know what a blessing it is to receive a much needed and appreciated gift. Even gently used winter coats can be given, perhaps boots for the kids. I once received a king sized candy bar from a friend in need herself and it was my favorite gift! Blessings to everyone for such caring! Love and Hugs, Nana

Anonymous said...

This is something I do all year round for my eldery mom but can be done from now till Christmas. I freeze a meal size container (for my mom that is a little more than a cup) of whatever I cooked for supper. There is no extra work involved and she SO loves this! She is still able to do some cooking of her own but doesn't always feel up to it and also likes the variety. I also make and freeze a batch of waffles, muffins, etc and individually package.
Another gift that has been appreciated is a "paper box." I fill a box with a notebook or writing paper, postage stamps, paper towels, napkins, plates, even TP. Again, this is a big hit esp. with the elderly. Thx for the great list, Brenda! Dee in MN

Deborah Montgomery said...

I can understand why this has been a popular post. Lots of really good suggestions here. thank you Brenda.

Debby said...

Love this!!! We give all year but step it up during the holiday's. Another idea for kiddo's who's parents don't always do "the right thing" is to find out their Christmas list then order from Amazon to have delivered to their homes. The parents can't return the gifts most of the time :) to buy things that are shall we say unacceptable. We also do Christmas Jars during the year then give them to our local soup kitchen to pass out to families they know could use a little extra cash. The best part of this holiday season is the blessing of having extra to give :)