Did you hear about the eight year old boy who, when his parents asked him what he wanted for Christmas, said he wanted to give toys to sick children? So he and his parents took a bunch of toys to give to patients at a Children’s Hospital.
Perhaps you are thinking, “I wish that was my child” or “I wish that child existed in my classroom.” My thoughts were, “I’d like to meet this child’s parents!” What kind of example did they set for this child to have such a giving spirit? Even if that generous spirit came from deep within, kudos to those parents who put legs on a little boy’s dream and made it happen!
For the rest of us, we often find ourselves despairing about our children’s greedy attitudes at Christmas. Yet, like anything, character traits don’t just happen. They have to be taught. We can help our children grow in generosity by doing service projects with them at Christmas time. Here are some ideas:
1. Take fruit baskets to elderly folks in your neighborhood or who attend your church. Greet them with caroling.
2. Go Christmas caroling at a local nursing home. Have one or two of the children bring a pet along. Make sure the pet is well behaved and loves people. A Labrador or Golden Retriever or a Welsh Corgi have great personalities for nursing home visits. Get approval from the home before you do this and have an adult keep a careful eye on the pet.
3. Take treats to a nursing home. One year, our church youth group dressed up in Halloween costumes at Halloween, went to a nursing home, and gave each resident a banana. This was a great idea because we didn’t have to worry about whether someone was diabetic and couldn’t eat candy or cookies.
4. Offer to decorate doors of rooms at a nursing home. Better yet, offer to help a nursing home or children’s hospital take down decorations after Christmas is over.
5. Make a care package for a recently unemployed family. Decorate a basket and fill it with cocoa mix, tea bags, a tub of cappuccino mix, some cookies, muffin mix, a small bottle of dish detergent, a small kitchen widget and a couple of candy canes.
6. Become involved in Operation Christmas Child sponsored by Samaritan’s Purse. Participants fill shoeboxes with specified items, such as school supplies or personal care items and send it to Samaritan’s Purse to be distributed to needy children in other countires. One local church asked families to send $5 with their child to a youth meeting. The youth sponsors then took the children to the local dollar store and let the children purchase items they could put in the shoeboxes.
If you would rather help local families, your class or family could take the same basic idea of filling a shoebox for a needy child. I love the idea of letting the children shop for the items of their choice. This works on several levels. It allows the child to take ownership of the project. It also teaches some valuable lessons about money management.
The greatest way we can show thankfulness for the gift God gave us through Jesus Christ His Son is to give to others. The essence of giving at Christmas is not to give obligatory gifts to those who will give back to us or who have no need for what we give. Christ gave us what we needed most and what we were helpless to provide for ourselves – salvation. Let’s mirror the love of Christ by giving to others what they need most. Let’s involve our children so they too can learn the art of giving.