Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Christmas Charity Tradition - How Ours Happened by Accident

Since I was a teenager, my family has been doing an extra charitable act at Christmas. One year I volunteered at a used toy place, reassembling Barbies from pieces to give to needy kids. (Yes. You read that right. It was like a weird graveyard of Barbie parts. It still haunts me. *shudder*) Another year, we shopped and purchased clothes for a single mom with 2 boys under 4. Having been the recipient of those charities a few times in my childhood, its important to me to return the favor. Now, as an adult, I pass this along in our family. We do what we can – one year we purchased toiletries to help make care packages for a local homeless outreach, one year we cooked and delivered food to the community center to serve Christmas dinner to needy individuals and families, and one year we were extra tight on cash, and we bought a small toy for Toys For Tots.

In recent years, maybe the last 5 or 6, we stepped it up, with the help of our extended family. It happened quite by accident. After all the struggles of how to handle gifts for the adults without going broke...do we purchase small gifts for each person, or pick a name? What's the budget? Then everyone started new careers, got married or had new babies (or all of the above), and the economy tanked. Someone suggested “let's skip gifts, pitch in $60 per family and adopt a family.” Great idea! Its much more affordable, everyone likes this plan, and COME ON, we are in our late 20s to early 40s and if we want something, we just buy it. We don't need to wait until Christmas to ask for those gardening boots / tennis racket / tool set we had our eye on. So, the adopt a family tradition was born.

Once we are paired with a family, we go out and purchase food for Christmas dinner – turkey, pies, etc. Plus gifts for the parents and kids. Yes, we buy for the parents too, even though they say they don't need anything. Usually we just take it to the church, and they handle delivery. But last year, we got to deliver it to their home. THEIR HOME. We got to see exactly who and how we are helping. To see how grateful these people were..wow. Just...wow.

We still get all together to celebrate, and we buy the nieces and nephews presents. We don't ignore the holiday. We just do it a little differently than some people. 

Tell me...do you have a favorite charitable act you do at Christmas? How did it come about?

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