With the holidays here, the giving spirit permeates the air. It’s the time to shower family and friends with gifts. But how often are you expanding that giving outside those you know?
I feel like I’m in a constant state of busy-ness, and I have been good at seeking out organizations to support if they don’t fall in my lap. I think that’s been one of the best things about social media over the last few years. I love seeing birthday fundraisers on Facebook or #GivingTuesday posts on Instagram, and I’ve found countless ways to give through people in my neighborhood supporting organizations.
Since you’re probably really busy too and may not have found a way to make giving back a priority, I thought I’d share a few ideas from places where I donate and things that you probably have in your towns too.
- Food banks: There are so many ways to donate food. You likely have a big food banks and some smaller ones in your county or in local churches.
- Adopt A Family: I don’t think Angel Trees are a thing this year, but just the ones I’ve been a part of recently are through my son’s daycare, a woman on my neighborhood Facebook page adopted TEN families and has been asking for donations, and it can be gently used items like clothing and toys, so it’s a great way to clear out things at home too. Especially the baby stuff that either went unused or barely touched!
- Church: My church does a Christmas missions project, and this year, they’ve decided to give the money locally. There are several organizations they’re working with, and we can either donate to the general fund or a mission close to our hearts.
- Teachers: This year, I upped my teacher count and added people like the reading specialists who are working with my kids virtually and doing an incredible job. And I gave to those who may be sucking through this too. It’s HARD. I’m choosing to give grace even if we’ve got one dud who doesn’t seem to give it back. My kids’ teachers have also set up a Teachers Pay Teachers fund to help pay for virtual resources that are worth every penny to make their experience better!
A FEW OF MY FAVES:
- Compassion International: I discovered this organization about 5 years ago while attending a Christian concert. You “adopt” a child and each month $36 is pulled from my account. It’s a great way to donate a little bit throughout the year, and I love the set it and forget it aspect of it. We have 2 children right now, and I guess I need to add one more because the intent was that we adopted one for each of ours. We get sent regular letters and photos, and if I were a better sponsor, we’d send letters back more often! But it’s a great organization and has excellent ratings.
- Comfort Zone Camp: Based in Richmond, VA, CZC offers overnight grief camp for kids ages 7-17 in multiple locations around the country. My oldest daughter has been twice, and it’s such a powerful weekend for these kids. The “Big Buddy” that they pair with each child is a big deal and they work so hard to make it a great match. We have stayed in very close contact with our second one and she’s come to visit for Peyton’s birthday, treating her to a special night out last year and then a special necklace and treats that she dropped off this year. This is a FREE OVERNIGHT CAMP for kids who have lost a parent or sibling, and that’s all done because of generous donations.
- Heifer International: Admittedly, this is the first year I’ve donated to this one. I got on a mailing list somehow and received their mini catalog a few weeks ago. I’ve heard of this type of program in the past—your money goes toward buying livestock which supports families for the longterm so they can get milk, sell cheese, etc. It’s the whole idea of teaching a man to fish, which I love. They make it fun to donate to this one too by offering various packages with price points ranging from $50 for a “share of an animal” to $5000 for “Noah’s Ark.” My family has a running joke about goats, so we purchased a goat for each child this year at $120 each!
And when in doubt:
- Your school: I have always donated to my college, our athletic foundation, and our alumni association. A little bit to each group.
- Organizations with meaning: cancer, homelessness, education, domestic violence, etc. I recommend checking out Charity Navigator if you want to make sure your money is being used well! I’m partial to charities that help kids so that we can make impact early and often.
At the end of the day, it’s our job to give back, to tithe, and to recognize how blessed we are. Having a lot of money doesn’t mean you’re blessed just the same as not having enough money makes you less blessed. Give where you can, however you can.
Merry Christmas to you and your family, and may this be a special and memorable holiday for each of you. This will be my last post of the year as I unwind with my family for two weeks without school or work. I look forward to taking on 2021 and seeing all the amazing things bound to come our way.