As we move into November, it is readily apparent that the Holiday Season is quickly approaching. If you haven’t already seen Christmas decorations out, you haven’t been to the store recently. But before Christmas, in America we celebrate Thanksgiving. It is all too easy to express how thankful we are for our family and friends and food, while forgetting about those who have none. Before the retailers grab our complete attention, I would encourage you and your family to consider donating to a charity.
There are hundreds of charities to choose from. Local charities focus on the people in your city; group charities are centered on those with a similar story or background. International charities encourage you to give to those less fortunate across the ocean. It is easy to feel overwhelmed and wonder if you can really make a difference.
Here is a short roundup of outreach programs that you could consider getting involved with. Include your son in the process. Children will often surprise you with their generosity and willingness to help others if given the chance. A season of giving before receiving is a lesson we all could use.
*SnazzyLads is not affiliated, associated, authorized, endorsed by, or in any way officially connected with Samaritan’s Purse, Soldiers’ Angels, or Salvation Army. Any trademarks or images featured or referred to are the property of their respective trademark holders.
Operation Christmas Child
Begun in 1993, Operation Christmas Child collects and delivers gift-filled shoeboxes to countries around the world. A project of the Samaritan’s Purse, Operation Christmas Child reached over 135 million children by 2015.
The outreach program begins with people filling shoeboxes designated for a boy or girl by age group. They are collected at drop-off sites during National Collection Week (November 13-20, 2017), and then processed and delivered to children in over 100 countries. You can follow your box online to find out where your gift is being delivered. Last year, my Snazzy Lads and I sent two boxes to Mexico.
Operation Christmas Child has a list of suggested gifts and box fillers, but due to shipping regulations, no candy or liquids are allowed. They suggest one “wow” gift, school supplies, and hygiene items. You can even include a letter and picture from your family – include your address so your Operation Christmas Child has the chance to write back. Find Your Drop-Off Location or Learn More about Operation Christmas Child.
Founded in 2003 by Patti Patton-Bader, Soldiers’ Angels began as a way to send care packages to the platoon her son served in. As more requests for help poured in, Soldiers’ Angels quickly grew to a community serving thousands of soldiers and their families. Today they are the largest volunteer-centered organization dedicated to supporting our troops, veterans and their families.
If you have leftover Halloween Candy, or if you want to grab some now that it is on clearance, Soldiers’ Angels is collecting candy to send to troops overseas, and also to pass out to those in VA hospitals. Find a drop-off site near you or ship the candy directly to Soldiers’ Angels. Simply email them at InKind@SoldiersAngels.org and they will provide you an address to ship to.
If you would like to send a stuffed stocking to the troops or veterans, Soldiers’ Angels can help facilitate that. Apply to be a Holiday Community Partner before November 15 to secure a spot in the program. You can purchase any size stocking and fill it goodies, including notes and letters (See Suggested Items). Then simply fasten the top of the stocking (large black binder clips or similar) and ship the stocking to Soldiers’ Angels. They ask that you not use extra-large boxes, and keep the weight under 40 pounds.
For a more involved approach, you can sign up to adopt a military family for the holiday season. Team Angels who adopt a family provide grocery gift cards to help with the holiday meal and also presents for each of the children. Alternatives to adopting a family include joining a letter-writing team, sewing and crafting team, baking team, or a year-round support team. Learn More about getting involved.
You may be familiar with the red kettle the Salvation Army puts out every year between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The Red Kettle directly influences your local community. Did you know they also have an Angel Tree Program? Since 1979, millions of children have been served by others who have donated toys and gifts.
Families in need apply or are referred to the Salvation Army for help with Christmas. After verification, names and gift wishes of the children are obtained and printed onto angel tags to be placed on Angel Trees. Donors can select a tag, purchase the gift, and return it to the Angel Tree by the deadline on each tag. The gifts will be taken to a distribution center, where the families will pick them up before Christmas Eve. Angel Trees can be found in local shopping malls, area corporations, churches and local organizations. Call your local Salvation Army to find one near you.
There are many local pantries and soup kitchens in need of donations as the holiday season approaches. Shelters need bedding and toiletries. You do not have to look far to find someone in need, so I encourage you to help someone this season.
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