© Ivan Kruk / Dollar Photo Club
As my children grow older, I really want to start incorporating giving and serving others into our Christmas traditions. It’s easy to get caught up in the bright lights and materialistic side of Christmas, but giving is the true spirit of the holiday and I want my children to know and see that through our family even at a young age. So here are 10 ways to serve with young children during the holidays.
Make Cards for Loved Ones
The best way for children to learn about giving is to have them make a card or picture to give to someone that they love. You could also have your children make cards for neighbors, church members, servicemen (and women), the elderly, troops overseas, etc.
Fill a Shoebox for Operation Christmas Child
Filling a shoebox for a child in need is a GREAT way to show our children that other families aren’t as fortunate as they are and that it’s important to help them. Plus, you can explain to them that some children don’t know Jesus and by sending them a box they will hear the gospel in their own language! For more information about filling a box for Operation Christmas Child go here. National collection week for shoeboxes is November 17th-24th, but you can send boxes year round to this address:
Operation Christmas Child
P.O. Box 3000
801 Bamboo Road
Boone, NC 28607
Sit down with your child and explain to them that by donating his or her extra toys, they are helping those that may not have as much as them. Plus, it’s a great way to make room for the new toys they will be getting for Christmas, but you don’t have to mention that part to them. 🙂
Ring Bells for the Salvation Army
Christmas shopping just wouldn’t be the same without the many volunteers who ring bells in front of each store, would it?? Did you know that you can visit RingBells.org and pick a time and location to volunteer to be a bell ringer yourself? I did this once back in high school and it was easy and fun. What a great way to serve this holiday season as a family and to teach your children about the Salvation Army and all of the good that they do for others!
Pray for those in Need
We may not normally think of prayer as service, but it’s a great way to teach your child about the needs of others. You could commit to praying for a different family member each night before bed from now until Christmas.
Go to your local mall and pick a child off of the angel tree that is the same gender and age as yours and go buy them the things that they need. This is another easy and hands on way to get your child involved in serving this holiday season.
Donate Food to a Local Food Pantry
Call your local food pantry and ask about their greatest needs and then take your child to the store and let them help you pick out the items. Then drive directly to the facility and have your child help unload and donate the items.
Deliver Cookies to Service Members on Christmas Day
Explain to your child that people like policemen, firemen and nurses don’t always get to spend Christmas with their families because they have chosen to serve their community. Then have your child help bake cookies and deliver them to those serving on Christmas day to your local police station, fire station or hospital as a thank you for their service. Try these kid-friendly recipes:
Sponsor a Child
Programs like Child Fund and Save the Children allow you to sponsor children in need through a monthly donation. I’ve personally done this for over a decade now and I get so much joy from corresponding with my sponsored children. You can also check out their online Christmas catalogs and make a donation for things like clean water or mosquito nets. What a great lesson it would be to sponsor a child in your child’s name and encourage them to draw pictures and pray for them on a monthly basis!
Send Cards to St. Jude
Did you know that families at St. Jude never receive a bill for treatment, travel, housing or food? What a blessing this is for those families who are battling childhood illness! You can get your child involved by letting them make cards for St. Jude patients and sending them in the mail. I would also urge you to consider becoming a Partner in Hope and commit to donating monthly to the amazing work of St. Jude and explaining to your child to be thankful that they are healthy and to pray for those who are sick.
I am looking forward to doing incorporating these ideas into my own family traditions this year and I hope you will consider doing the same!