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While I love to give my children gifts, I also long for them to see that gifts aren’t the say-all and be-all of Christmas. As we celebrate the birth of one who gave up everything for us, I want them to experience what it really means to give. This takes a little time to plan out or drive them places, but the time is always worth it in the end!
If you want to join in on teaching your kiddos the importance of putting others first at Christmas, then here are 20 ways to encourage giving and service to get you started. I have no doubt that you can probably add to this list.
20 Ways to Encourage Giving & Service
1. Visit nursing homes and pass out homemade colored Christmas cards (no food items; many are on diets that don’t need it).
2. Make cookies, or even cookie dry mixes, for neighbors. Branch out to meet neighbors you haven’t met before.
3. Rake neighbors’ yards (without being asked).
4. Do your sibling’s chores for the day (sometimes giving to family is harder in our house than giving to strangers).
5. Pick one of your toys, in good condition, that your sibling would love, wrap it and give it to them for Christmas.
6. Donate books they no longer read to the public library (in our town these are then sold to raise funds).
7. Donate toys and even clothes in good condition to charity thrift stores in town. This is their choice, not your prodding.
8. Make Christmas cards/thank you notes for church leaders, Sunday school teachers and any other adult role models they can think of.
10. Have them help plan and make a meal for a family you know.
11. Go caroling to shut-ins or even neighbors. Work with them to learn the first verse of 3-4 songs.
12. Visit elderly you know and help them with chores around the house.
13. Ring the Salvation Army bell for a shift (usually 1-2 hours).
14. Call local homeless shelters and ask how families can serve. Many will have ways that all can participate, but you need to let them direct you.
15. Donate coats, blankets and hats (used and clean is fine) to give out to homeless. If you don’t want to hand them out directly, find a local coat drive.
16. Gather coupons for freebies to donate around town. They are responsible for clipping coupons and remembering to grab the items in the store.
17. Adopt a soldier to send letters and possibly care packages too.
18. Make no-sew fleece blankets (or feel free to crochet, or sew) for Project Linus. Find local chapters to drop your blankets off, too; they will put them in the hands of kids in need.
19. Volunteer at the local pet shelter. If your kids aren’t old enough, then make toys of pets out of old socks and tennis balls.
20. Volunteer at a local food bank (must be 10 or older in our area). If they are too young, then encourage them to start a food drive among their friends or classmates.