READ THIS AND THEN COME BACK!
This was the inspiration for my post today. That and a cool ‘gift’ that our church suggested we give a few years ago to our local food pantry. I love the idea. It’s so simple, so easy, and it doesn’t hurt (that much)….
In this ever present lingering time of year where we’re suspended between too much trick or treat candy and ‘are the stores really selling plastic blow up santas already?’ don’t forget those in need. They are in need ALWAYS. Maybe not the same families, not for the same reasons, maybe it’s abuse, or job loss, or foreclosure. Our system is designed to both make you put it ‘all in’ to keep your house, and punish you for doing so at the same time. Try deciding whether to keep a roof over your head or feed your kids. Easy, right? Not so much.
If you CAN and DO keep food on the table and a roof over your head, please consider adding a line item to your holiday budget. Pick the swankiest thing you’re giving someone. $10, $25, $50 +++ and then add that price to the top of your list as ‘donation’ and take your kids with you to shop for groceries for a food pantry. Or mail them a check. Or go volunteer that amount of your weekly wage in ‘time’ – find out how your local food pantry needs support the most. I guarantee this will both make you reassess how much you’re spending overall in holiday shopping and give you an immense amount of satisfaction. It can also be fun. Read on…
Ask them what they need, what they want, who they’re helping. Add in some lemonade or hot chocolate mix for kids-they’ll be home on break soon, you know. Can you imagine your kids coming home from school, tired, road-weary from riding the school bus, or plowing through crusty snowbanks, and discovering that instead of cold milk from WIC it’s been WOW-matized with a hot chocolate mix to warm their bones? Instead of water they’ve got their own lemonade to have for Thanksgiving dinner. That HELLO they GET a Thanksgiving dinner and it’s not just the same old thing until they get a different hot lunch at school? Think canned soup for singles or seniors-packed with veggies or meat. Chili. Spaghettios (although I loathe them, for some people, it might be the only warm thing they get to eat). Macaroni and cheese. Peanut butter and jelly to fill in the cracks. Crackers can go a long way (ask any new sleep-deprived mom who is desperate for food but doesn’t have the energy to make anything quite yet–they can be a lifesaver). Boxes of oatmeal for cold mornings. Syrup and pancake mix. Jellos and pudding costs PENNIES but can be a real treat–they don’t need freezer space like ice cream and each box serves 4. More than once now I’ve heard older people say ‘we NEVER had olives’ or ‘only at Christmas’ — pickles or olives could be an extra blessing instead of something that just takes up space with the ketchup on your shelves and only comes out during grilling season for those burgers. If your food pantry has a freezer and you hunt, see if they’ll take donations of venison. See if they’d take hot dogs. Don’t forget the buns-they freeze too! Sheesh, see if the pantry will TAKE your kids leftover Halloween candy. If it’s individually wrapped, they might be able to, and give YOU a blessing right back. Those stockings don’t fill themselves!
You see–it’s not going to take a lot for someone to feel blessed. They may feel just as blessed with quinoa as mac and cheese. The point is, most likely someone at home can read the box and figure out how to cook it, so if you think it will help DONATE IT! Give big, think smart, ask little, feel blessed.
Is anyone up for the challenge?
Everyone can help. Sometimes it’s donating time. Sometimes it’s working with a charity. (I run my local chapter of Cloth for a Cause, a cloth diaper lending bank/registered charity that exists to loan diapers to struggling families.) Other times it’s donating stuff or money. Never underestimate the ability to help others.
Ariel/ Blogs from a Single Mom
Very encouraging! I think it’s a little bit disappointing that so many people need to be reminded that it’s nice to donate, and that many people only do it during the holidays. But the fact that it’s done at all gives me a little hope! I’m a big volunteer-er, mostly with animals. If you want to volunteer around the holidays but don’t have the funds or you aren’t a people person, you call always volunteer at your local animal shelter! They’re usually short on volunteers, ESPECIALLY during the holidays when many volunteer are out of town.
My family and I give to various charities a few times a year. In the past we have helped animal shelters, food pantries, toy drives, and other various drives. This year we will probably give to our church’s Thanksgiving food drive again.
In the past I have donated to Toys for Tots and similar organizations around the holidays and every year we donate a few food items as well. It’s easy to do and doesn’t have to cost much.
My son’s birthday is next month and since he has so much already, I have asked that in lieu of gifts that the guests donate cloth diapers or non-perishable food.
In addition, I allow my children to earn money by going above and beyond their chores so that they can buy toys and hygiene items for Operation Christmas Child.
Even if you have very little, you can still find ways to give, even if it means selling off material items that you do not need in order to buy a few cans of food…