The True Meaning of Christmas: Giving Back This Holiday Season

by Erika Torres

2Even with their loved ones gathered, most people focus on organizing fantastic feasts and festivities rather than indulging in the simpler joys the season allows. In order to keep your friends and family in the true holiday spirit, learn more about celebrations that focus on giving back to your community.

1. Hosting a Food Drive

Hunger is a serious problem even in the United States, where almost 50 million Americans (about 14 percent of households) live every day without being certain they’ll have another meal. This food insecurity is felt particularly during the holidays, when most American families enjoy celebrating with bountiful feasts. In order to help these hungry people during the holidays (and beyond) you can organize a local food drive amongst your family and friends.

Television stations, schools, grocery stores, and more collect food for needy families over the holidays, but that doesn’t mean the contributions of your neighborhood are meaningless. In fact, because you personally know the sponsors of your food drive, you are able to extract more and higher quality donations. With the help of friends and family, you could be responsible for the satisfied joy of one or more struggling families this holiday season.

2. Encouraging Large Donations

As much as they don’t like to admit it, many people impulsively make large, important purchases like cars, boats, or other recreational vehicles. Often, despite the purchaser’s good intentions — family trips to the lake, joy rides through open country — these luxurious items are left sitting in the driveway or garage, receiving little (if any) use.

You can encourage your friends and neighbors to get rid of their old vehicles or boats quickly and easily by donating them to a worthy charity. Instead of spending time trying to sell for what might not amount to much, they can simply donate their boat or car to charity and have them come pick it up. Most charities that accept large donations are eager to come right to a donor’s door. The process is simple and clean, and you know you’ve made a significant impact on lives in your community while clearing your own life of unused items.

3. Becoming Angels

Just as many families lack the resources to provide regular meals, many more cannot afford toys and other presents for their children during the holidays. While your kids are hungrily tearing through their mountain of gifts on Christmas morning, countless families enjoy only each other’s presence. While gifts alone do not spread joy, every child deserves the excitement of opening presents during the holidays, and some families could use your help to make this dream come true.

There are countless charities around the country that organize toy donations, but the most popular is the Salvation Army’s Christmas Angel program. Unlike other toy drives that take in miscellaneous gifts and distribute them randomly, the Salvation Army asks families for specific recommendations. Then, giving souls like you and your friends can collect the items on the wish lists to provide personally meaningful Christmas mornings.

4. Being Friendlier

If all else fails — you don’t have the time or resources to deliver amazing gifts like these during the holidays — there is one simple way to improve the world during the holiday season. As joyous a time as it is, too many people are stressed by the looming responsibilities of feeding and entertaining their family and friends, which makes for a tense and uncomfortable community. By being kind and friendly to everyone you encounter — no matter how frazzled you yourself feel — you will sow a spirit of giving just as meaningful as actual physical contributions. You can donate a smile or kind word for free, any time and to anyone, to spread good cheer far and wide. The holidays should be a time of happiness, and you have the power to make it so for everyone, rich or poor, friend or stranger.

This year, for a more profound holiday experience — one that transcends the gluttonous hoarding of gifts and feasts — you can build your community into a strong and benevolent one, where everyone comes together to celebrate health and happiness and the joy of the season.

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Erica Martinez May 5, 2015 - 12:28 pm

The majority of our Ministry is run by people much like you. It could be a single parent that had at one time needed assistance and found it, wanting now to give back. It could be an individual thankful for their health and the health of their loved ones wanting only to provide aid and comfort to others less fortunate than themselves. It could be a past offender wishing to make a positive change in their lives by devoting themselves to the service of others. It could also be a survivor of a military conflict wishing to assist others in similar circumstances. Or quite simply it could be an individual who recognizes the value and rewards in their own lives of easing the burden of a child in need, a family without a meal or an elderly person in need of medical care but unable to afford it. We are all of those things.


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