In our home, we are secular and we celebrate Christmas, but we celebrate it as a time of giving to others and family. Before our children were even born, we knew that we wanted them to know that while they are fortunate to have their needs met, not all people are. Therefore we give to those less fortunate.
We give in many ways, book drives, coat drives, food drives, toy drives. The angel or giving tree at the local mall, money in the Salvation Army pot, food to the local animal shelters and clearing out things we do not need for the thrift stores. Here are some ways to give that won't break the bank!
- Food Drives: I always have a spot in my pantry for spare food for food drives. Don't pass up those coupons that say FREE item or BOGO! Even if you don't need the item or need just 1, grab it anyways and set it aside for food drives! When stores have a a great sale, grab 2. Doing a little at a time all year barely touches your pocketbook!
- Toy Drives: I found Mr. and Mrs. Potato Heads online for $5 each! Grabbed them for the daycare kiddos and grabbed a couple extra to put in the toy drive! I am always on the hunt for new in package toys at the thrift stores. You wouldn't believe how many of these I find! I save them for the toy drives as well.
- Coat Drives: My boys outgrow their coats like weeds in the garden!LOL Barely used coats are given to the coat drives. I also ask friends and family to check their closets for barely worn coats! Those things accumulate worse than shoes it seems!
- Angel Tree/Giving Tree: We always pick at least 1 child from the giving tree at the Mall. We make a special trip to do so, otherwise I prefer to avoid the Mall like the plague this time of year.
- Monetary Donations: My boys collect spare change all year and then have the choice of where they want to donate it. The family favorite is the Humane Society as we are big animal lovers. We also use those coupons to grab dog and cat treats for free or CHEAP and take along with us. They are always in need of goodies! Many times they will have a list posted on their website or in the lobby of things they need.
- Salvation Army Kettles: My boys love to put money in the Salvation Army pot. Have been doing it since they were able to walk and even at 15 and 17, it is still a Christmas or holiday tradition! I swear my purse weighs an extra 5# from making sure I have change this time of year.
- Book Drives: We take books up to the local VA(Veteran's Association) Hospital! My husband is a veteran, as was my grandfather and the main complaint is not enough to read. Especially for those bedridden!! I collect an array of genres from family members all year and we make trips every few months to donate!
- Helping Neighbors: Many of us have elderly neighbors that have little or no family and it is really hard on them during the holiday season! Ours passed away 3 years ago and he is greatly missed. We all made sure he was ok, my boys did jobs around his yard for him and we bought him a warm shirt and baked some goodies every year for the holidays.
- Pay It Forward: I love reading these stories online about how long a "pay it forward" chain lasted through a coffee shop or grocery line! $5 at the checkstand may mean the world to the person next in line or helping someone unload their groceries may make them want to do something for someone in return! My childcare girlfriends and I have a tradition. We all send stuff we don't need to each other. No help with shipping and not really asked, just done. Someone mentions something and if one of us has it extra, done deal...out in the mail. Our only rule is to pay it forward!
Our family goal for this next year is to donate more of ourselves to our community! My boys are both lucky enough to have their Great-Grandmothers in their lives and see them several times a year. They love spending time with them and I have been expressing an interest in giving their time at a retirement or assisted living facility by spending time with seniors that do not get many visitors. They love to play cards and listen to stories and help out in any way needed.
So, while we are secular homeschoolers on this forum and we all choose to look at Christmas in different ways.... it is the Season of Giving and Family!
How does your family celebrate the season?