Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Keep Christ in Christmas

As Christmas rolls closer it's hard to not be swept up into the bustle and forget the true intentions of Christmas.  The religious holiday of Christmas has become a favorite holiday for more than Christians, but in its growth of popularity the focus of Christmas can be lost.  So I implore you to try harder this year to keep Christ in Christmas.  I too fall victim to the fun of shopping for an exorbitant amount of presents, indulging in treats and adorning the house with decorations galore.  I believe that most of us do try and put forth the effort in the holidays to give back and share, whether it be our time or money.  Here are some ideas about how you too can share this holiday season.

*Donate at a Blood Drive - whether you volunteer your time to help at the event or give blood to save some lives this is a great opportunity to do a bit of giving that can save a life.  One donation can save 3 lives! During the holiday times it's harder for the Red Cross to find volunteers so take a look at their website and find the nearest blood drive

*Write a letter to a soldier -This is a fun and simple task to do with your family.  There are many soldiers overseas and away from their families.  Although some may receive letters and packages, who doesn't love getting a genuine thank you in the mail. Take a look at the cards Lisa's group of little girls made for the soldiers. 
Cards for Soldiers - Lisa's group

 You can start off simple and only send letters, or you could get a group to contribute towards sending a package or two.  You can choose which branch you'd like to send it to: the army, marines, air force, navy, coastguard.  Then pick a specific unit based on state, location overseas, start or end date, etc.  Depending on which unit you choose they may be requesting specific things based on their location and resources, but if you have no idea what to send the Any Soldier website has some basic ideas.  So maybe send some stuff, but mainly your support, as we thank those that give us the gift of time with our families.

*Food Pantry -donate items from your cupboard or purchase gift cards at grocery stores to give to the food pantry in your area.  Especially during this cold season a lot more people are seeking out aid from pantries to help keep their cupboards stocked.  A great way to give more is donate money when a grocery store is matching the amount donated.  For example, our church pantry had worked it out with Meijer that a certain weekend for every $10 donated, Meijer would donate $20. Dave and me donating $20 that weekend meant the pantry actually received $60!!! Pretty neat. Keep your eyes open at your own grocery stores for such giving opportunities.

*Animal Shelter - It's not only people that need aid during the colder months of winter, the cages at Humane Societies are flooded with animals.  There are many ways to get involved with an animal shelter this holiday season.  Here are some ideas, but be sure to see a shelter near you for specifics.
 -Give a gift from the shelters Amazon Wish List. This way you're gifting exactly what they need.
-Pet Photos with Santa! For a $ donation you can take your animal to get a picture with Santa.
-Volunteer to help clean cages, walk dogs, be a cat cuddler and other necessary jobs for the shelters success
-Adopt! Rescue an animal! Not everyone can do this, but if you're looking for a furry friend now is a great time to rescue!
  • Dave's family rescued a cat they fittingly named Frosty, due to the frostbite he suffered before Dave found him on the side of the road, and were rewarded with a fetch playing kitty.
  • And last year Dave and I found a black kitten at the grocery store and because the shelters were too full and wouldn't take the little fella, we worked together with some friends to transfer him a few states away to someone willing to take him. Clearly Dave has amazing Kitty Radar, plus I think cats know he's a catlover when they see him.

*Salvation Army - give change to those bell ringers braving the cold or become one yourself and volunteer. My family and I growing up had some fun memories singing carols and bell ringing.  It was when we were stationed outside of Menard's that we'd get the most moolah :)

*Toys for Tots - It's not too late to get involved whether it's at work or church with buying presents for families in the area in need. It can be fun to go shopping for someone you don't know, and get them exactly what they want, knowing how thrilled they will be to open it on Christmas.

I know, I know, with so many great ideas it's hard to take your pick!  Luckily you still have a few weeks before Christmas to give back, and who says you can't continue giving with the start of the year.  It's very fitting to share what God has blessed us with throughout the year with others during this holiday season, in acknowledgement of those gifts.  It's great to enjoy the decorations, cheer, treats, presents and time with family that we're granted over Christmas.  Just remember that it feels even better when you keep Christ in Christmas.  Happy Giving!

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