How to Help Create a Special Christmas for Families in Need
Christmas! Ahhhhh what a wonderful time of the year!
Families get together, the lights, the decorations, presents under the tree, and the wonderful Christmas feast we wait for all year long.
For most, it's like a Norman Rockwell painting, but for millions of poverty stricken families, it's just another day without shelter, warm clothing, or food.
Each year, approximately 1.2 million people reach below the poverty level and find themselves without the necessities to sustain them. Food, clothing, and shelter being the primary concerns have fallen short due to the lack of jobs and the lack of donations that are so greatly needed.
Can We Fix this Problem?
The demand of every day necessities for families in need make it literally impossible for us as individuals to fix this problem on our own. However, as a community, a state, and a nation, we can conquer this together. It is our divine responsibility as a human race to help our fellow man and love one another. There are so many wonderful organizations who are constantly giving and providing for the families in need. But the rise in numbers of those needy families are far surpassing the supplies that are needed.
This is where we come in as individuals.
My Mother, My Teacher
When I was growing up, my mother always made sure that there was at least one needy family in our church or neighborhood that was taken care of for Christmas. We would all help in the preparation of a Christmas Dinner to take over. We couldn't afford to go out and buy new toys for all the children in the family, so Mom would ask us kids to choose a toy that we have not played with or no longer needed and wrap it up special. I can still remember that wonderful feeling knowing I was giving a gift to a girl my age who had nothing. What a fabulous lesson to teach your children.
From Commercialized to Compassionate
I believe that most would agree that Christmas has become so commercialized, so competitive, and so impersonal, that we have forgotten the true meaning of Christmas, what it stands for and why we celebrate it. Of course the first and foremost reason is the remembrance of the birth of our Savior, and most importantly, his perfect example of unconditional love,message of hope, and his teachings of giving. This, is what Christmas is all about.
While we prepare for the holiday season and get ready to celebrate with family and friends, take a few moments and think of a family you may know, perhaps within your own church or neighborhood that has fallen on hard times.
What a wonderful surprise it would be for them to be able to celebrate Christmas with a wonderful meal, a few gifts to open, and a feeling of hope for the future.
If you have ever had the desire to be part of such a wonderful gift, now is the perfect time for you to get yourself and your family involved together. Your hearts will grow bigger, your family will become even closer, and you will be a contributing source in such a way that you will never forget.
Helpful Suggestions and Ideas
There are so many ways that we can help create a special Christmas for needy families. The following suggestions and ideas can assist you in creating the perfect Christmas for one or multiple special families:
List of Organizations That You Can Offer Your Service To
Help Serve Christmas Dinner
Non-profit organizations can use our help, especially through the holidays. Churches, soup kitchens, and other organizations have served millions of turkey dinners over the years to those who are homeless and hungry. The awesome thing about donating your time by serving meals at one of these organizations is that not only are you helping a worthy cause, but you will have the profound opportunity to meet the most amazing people who have struggled with so much in their life. Once you spend an afternoon with these courageous individuals, your personal struggles won't seem so critical. It's amazing how we can put everything into perspective and realize that we are all in this boat together!
Holiday Gift Boxes
One of my favorite things to put together during the holiday season are gift boxes that will contain a complete dinner and wrapped gifts for everyone in the family.
This does not have to cost you an abundance to do, however, you can spend as much as you want or as little as you want. There is no right or wrong way to create a gift box and the best part about it, you get to use your imagination and the whole family can get involved.
One of my samples of a Holiday Gift Box would be:
- Complete Ham Dinner (I choose ham because it is precooked and it doesn't require a long time to heat, therefore saving the family gas or electricity. This would include all the trimmings: 5lb bag of potatoes, head of lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers, dressing, bag of croissants, small container of butter, 2 cans of corn, 1 can of cranberry sauce, large jar of gravy, 1 pie and whipped topping.
- Appropriate age gifts for everyone in the family. This is where the family can really participate. If your family has items that have never been used and can be re-gifted, this is a very unselfish act of giving. Be sure that they are clean before wrapping them. Wrap them with love and care. If you know the names of the family members, write their names on the gift tags, if not, try to get the age and gender on everyone and write that on the tag so there is no confusion as who the gift goes to. (example: GIRL Age 12, BOY Age 8, Adult Female)
- If I have a little extra money, I will purchase a prepaid gift card to Walmart or any other major store chain so they can buy additional food or home necessities and put it with the parents gift.
There are two ways I like to present the gift boxes:
- Anonymously: Sometimes (not often) you will come across a family who may be embarrassed of their situation and have a hard time asking for help. The last thing you want to have happen is to embarrass them. This is about helping and showing that you care. So I will arrange for a special delivery by a friend or delivery service to show up and deliver the box to them with no fanfare.
- Delivered by Santa: I will usually use this method if there are children in the family. This way they have a one-on-one with Santa himself and let's them know just how special they really are. I will ask a close friend to perform this task for me. Note* You can also have Santa deliver the gift box anonymously for you.
Financial Relief with Support of Others
Helping someone out financially can always be a great relief, but not always practical. Not many of us have the means to support another family even through the holidays. This is where you find support through your friends and other family members. If you were able to find 50 people who could donate $10 each, you would be able to present $500 to a family who could pay their electricity, rent, buy food, gas, or just about anything they would need. This should be done discretely and with all the love and support you can give. Remember, sometimes you will be dealing with pride as this is a very sensitive area.
Christmas Dinner Gathering
One of the best ways to get to know your neighbors and those who are having a hard time financially is to invite them into your home and make them feel welcomed.
Plan and prepare a dinner, have Santa show up for the kids, and make a special night of it with singing and learning about one another.
This is a fabulous way to help your neighbors and to get the whole neighborhood involved.
Neighborhood Potlucks are the fashion these days. Everyone pitches in and brings a dish that feeds at least 10 people. Assignments can be handed out for everything from decorations, to setting up and tearing down tents and tables, to assigning certain dishes such as main dish, salads, veggies, and desserts. The kids could get together and put on a small show, Christmas carols can be sung around a decorated tree, and Santa could pop in with a bag full of goodies for the kids. The ideas are endless. What a great way to invite those who may need a little Christmas cheer. A social gathering is the perfect place to relax and enjoy yourself.
Special Gift for Couples Only
There are couples (and even singles) who don't have a family that may be having a hard time this year. Don't exclude or forget about them either. There are so many ideas that you can do to make their Christmas extra special. The following suggestions are but a few ideas that can be done.
- Christmas Gift Box for 2
- Invite them to your home for dinner
- An envelope with donations by your fellow neighbors
- Gift certificate for a night on the town (Dinner and a show)
- Gift cards from their local grocery store
How can you help a family in need this year?
If you are able to help needy families this year, how would you donate your time and love?
Christmas Dinner: Pre-planning will save time and money
There are so many ways to give the gift of a Christmas Dinner. There are a couple of things you will want to consider before planning:
- The number of adults and children you will be feeding.
- (If known) Their nutritional needs. (example: Allergies to certain foods, lactose intolerant, etc.) This extra touch just adds a little more "care" to the gift of giving.
- How far they live from you and whether or not you will prepare the meal or deliver the fixings in a box so they can prepare the meal themselves.
Preparing a special dinner for your chosen family can be simple and low-cost as long as you have a plan.
Prepare and bake the turkey 1-2 days in advance. Let it cool and then slice it down and place in an aluminum pan, covered tightly with foil. On the day of delivery, place the covered turkey in the oven at 325 degrees for 45 minutes to completely warm it up.
While the turkey is warming up, you can prepare the following along with your own meal or separately if delivering the day before Christmas.
- Mashed potatoes ( estimate approximately 2 potatoes per person)
- Green Salad with tomato and cucumber slices (Include a small bottle of dressing)
- Homemade biscuits (2 per person)
- Steamed vegetables (1 cup per person)
- Pumpkin pie and whipped topping
- Gallon of drinking water with Ice tea mix
To make the dinner extra special, you can purchase inexpensive pretty serving dishes and platters to put the food in. (This is a special added gift that they can keep and use it all the time) Wrap everything with heavy duty foil and place bows on top of the dishes. If you are aware of their lack of eating apparatus, buy some holiday paper goods and include it in the delivery.
Christmas time should be a joyous time for everyone, however, every year we see many who have lost their homes, their jobs, their families, and their quality of life.
Take a moment to contemplate your life and what would you do if you found yourself in the same situation. I would be scared to death and my self esteem would probably be next to nil.
It is up to us as human beings to help one another. But here's the key, Although the Christmas season enables that "Giving Feeling", it must continue all year long. As individuals, we can't save the world, but as a world, a nation, a state, and a community, we can better this world in so many ways.
Human nature allows our resources to expand and our abilities to grow. Join hands by being a part of an organization to help one another.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2012 Liz Rayen