Well, it’s that time of year again. We seem to be caught up in this holiday whirlwind that will sweep us into the coming year before we know. There seems to be so much to get done in such a short period of time. I can’t help but feel that this continuous chaos overshadows the “reason for the season.” What I witness today is a far cry from the “Christmas Spirit” I remember as a child.
To add to this sad realization is the fact that 4 of my 9 grandchildren have arrived at that tender age where they may very well have doubts about the authenticity of “Jolly Old St. Nick.” They may also, for the first time, be experiencing a mental and emotional tug-of-war between the concept of focusing on “the birthday of Jesus” OR “Santa’s annual visit.” In previous years, they managed to deal with both glorious events with very little concern.
If you’re experiencing any of what I just described, you might want to consider a very unique and rewarding solution this year. While so many are involved with shopping, decorating, gift wrapping, errands, and parties, others strive to stay out of the weather, maintain warmth, seek a place to sleep, find warm clothing, and simply manage to find their next meal.
This year you have a wonderful opportunity to reveal and instill the True Spirit of Christmas into the minds and hearts of each and every member of your family. The impact on your children and/or grandchildren can and will be enormous and permanent. And the strategy is indeed simplistic.
This season, and there’s still plenty of opportunity, volunteer your time and energy to assist those who are less fortunate this year. In doing so, every member of your family will rediscover the true meaning of Christmas and create new traditions that will live on for many festive seasons to come.
What To Do
This time of the year, your choices are plentiful. Do a little research to make certain you find an event that will be meaningful for every member of your family. Sit around your dining room table and share the options you came up with. Discuss each one and have a family vote.
Listed below is just a sampling of the many events taking place this time of the year. Google your local city for “volunteer opportunities” or call a few of the organizations listed here.
Have your children search their closets and toy boxes to find things they can donate to your local toy drive. The U.S. Marines’ Toys for Tots and other similar programs are available everywhere.
Offer to shovel a driveway or sidewalk for an elderly neighbor or someone you know isn’t physically capable of doing it themselves.
Volunteer at the local homeless or drop in center. They often need help preparing/serving the meals, handing out gifts, decorating, organizing donations, singing, etc.
Help out at a children’s Christmas party. Many community associations or non-profit organizations put on a Christmas party or event for children. They often need volunteers to help with games, crafts, gift-wrapping, etc.
Volunteer at a local senior’s home or hospital. Everyone enjoys a visit during the holiday season and many people do not have family to come and see them. Have your family sing carols with the seniors, play a game, or just chat. The gift of time will mean a lot to them.
Simply go Christmas caroling in a neighborhood where you know there might be a good number of seniors. They would love to have you stop by. This used to be a normal event years ago. What happened to us? How did we get so busy? Why did we forget how good this felt for everyone involved? How do we bring it back?
If you run out of ideas, check with any of the following organizations in your area for further information. They’ll all be thrilled to hear your offer of assistance and you’ll be glad you did. If you have a small family, invite neighbors to join you or have your children invite friends from school. The more the merrier. And you’ll all enjoy The Greatest Gift of All.
- Elks Club
- Lions Club
- Big Sisters
- United Way
- Eagles Club
- Rotary Club
- Food Banks
- US Marines
- Big Brothers
- Social Services
- Senior Centers
- Salvation Army
- Local Churches
- Nursing Homes
- YMCA / YWCA
- American Legion
- Rescue Missions
- Meals on Wheels
- Retirement Homes
- Junior Achievement
- Community Centers
- American Red Cross
- Knights of Columbus
- Child Welfare Agency
- Chamber of Commerce
- Child & Family Services
- Neighborhood Associations
- Foster Grandparent Programs
- Hospital Gift Shop Volunteers
- Community Action Organizations
10 things The Salvation Army will be doing this Christmas
Throughout the Christmas period, The Salvation Army will be:
- Visiting elderly people who are housebound and lonely at Christmas.
- Holding Christmas lunches for people who would otherwise be spending a miserable Christmas alone.
- Delivering hot food, sleeping bags and small Christmas gifts (such as socks and handkerchiefs) to homeless people.
- Giving shelter to homeless people and the chance of a fresh start in life.
- Delivering Christmas parcels of food and presents to housebound older people and others in need.
- Delivering toys to children from poorer families.
- Helping and supporting the emergency services when there is a major disaster, fire or accident.
- Delivering Christmas boxes to prisoners and their families as a message of hope and goodwill.
- Spreading the joy of Christmas at hospitals and elderly people’s homes with a Salvation Army band.
- Offering comfort and companionship to those who are lonely or distressed at Christmas time.