Christmas for some, is a time of plenty. Filled with food, gifts, toys, family, love and Christmas cheer. But as adults and parents we’re often acutely aware that this is not the case for everyone. The excesses of Christmas throw poverty and loneliness into sharp relief so it’s the perfect time of year to introduce the idea of charitable gift giving to your children empowering them to make a difference for people around the world, even in a small way. Below are some great ways for you and your family to give your time, energy and resources to help those in need.
Donate food, money and belongings
A fun and creative way to get your children giving is to donate a shoebox of children’s Christmas gifts to a charity like The Trussell Trust or Smile International. As well as the fun of picking out toys at the toy shop get them to think of other things a child living in poverty might need such as warm gloves, toiletries and stationery. They can then enjoy wrapping and decorating their shoebox to make it really special. Finally, they often get to choose whether their box goes to a girl or boy and their age range. Your children might want it to go to someone just like them, helping them to empathise and imagine just how much this will mean to the little girl or boy who will receive it.
Taking food donations to your local food bank is a great way to help your local community. Get your children involved in picking out tasty Christmas treats that will really make someone’s Christmas dinner memorable or pick out essentials to keep people going over the whole festive period.
Or why not donate money to a charity on behalf of your child – something that they can relate to, as one of their Christmas gifts? For example, donate to a wildlife charity if they love animals! If you sign up to donate an amount each month, many charities such as the Dogs Trust will provide updates or pictures of who the money is helping, making your child feel involved and see the difference they are making. This kind of gift could then be renewed each year giving them a sustained involvement with charitable giving!
Donate time and energy
If you really want your children to directly benefit others why not give your time, volunteering at a homeless shelter like Crisis who set up festive venues each year offering hot meals, warmth and companionship between 23rd-30th December.
Or maybe your child has a doting grandma and granddad and wants to give some time and companionship to other elderly people who might be alone at Christmas. Age UK is urging people to visit elderly relatives and neighbours at Christmas as part of their Spread The Warmth campaign. Hundreds of thousands of elderly people spend the festive period alone and if you know someone who might be going through this, you and your children could think of ways to make them feel cared for such as baking them some festive food, sending Christmas cards or even stopping by on Christmas Day to make sure they’re OK.
With so many ways to get involved in charitable giving at Christmas, it could easily become a fantastic and rewarding annual tradition for you and your family.
Jess Savage loves organizing charity drives. A mother of three, she enjoys motivating young people to serve their communities.