I try not to post about Christmas-related things until after Thanksgiving, as a firm believer that there is an appropriate season for everything. But I do make an exception when it comes to talking about charitable giving, as that takes a little planning. I hate to shock you, but most of us have only three or four paychecks in between now and Christmas, so making sure we’re able to fit charitable giving into the holiday plan is something to be thought of now.
I personally like to make three contributions every year – two local and one international. And I also like to make sure at least one of the three is food. We donate to our local food pantry throughout the year, but donating during the holidays is important too, since struggling families have so many more expenses to cover during the cold months and holiday season.
Our giving this year is falling into pretty much the same pattern as it did last year. These are the three organizations that we’ll be contributing to again this year –
Check Out Hunger – hosted by Woodman’s Markets (a Wisconsin/Northern Illinois grocery chain) I love this program because it’s so easy – you simply add a pre-packed paper sack loaded with groceries to your own shopping order, and pay $6.00. The baggers then run the grocery sack to the donation bin for you. If you’re not in the area, lots of other towns run similar programs, and of course you can always donate directly to your local food pantry as well.
Woodstock Christmas Clearinghouse – run by the Woodstock Rotary Club, Christmas Clearinghouse is a toy donation program for local children in need. (Note that the dates on the link are 2014; they haven’t updated the page yet for 2015). There are donation boxes for new toys all around town at local businesses; Jewel-Osco usually hosts one right by the check out lanes. I pick up toys all year long on clearance and sales and tuck them away to donate during the holidays – I’ve got some Little People, puzzles, books, coloring rolls, Lego Duplo, Hot Wheels and other things for the barrel this year.
Operation Christmas Child – run by Samaritan’s Purse, this is my international donation choice every year. National collection week is this week from 11/16 – 11/23 to drop off your box locally – you can use the location finder to see if there is a drop off location in your community. If not, or if you are putting your box together after next week, you can also mail it directly to their headquarters in Boone, NC. My son and I put together a box every year for another boy in his age group – we include some necessities like a toothbrush, comb and socks, and small toys, coloring supplies, books, and soft toy to snuggle. We like to use a reusable plastic shoe box so the child receiving it has a little “toy box” to keep. A box can be put together with quality items at a good price by choosing careful at dollar stores and Target’s One Spot (or Bulleye’s Playground – whatever they’re calling it now).
Two other organizations that are reputable and beneficial to donate to, in case you’d like other options, are Toys for Tots and Heifer International. Do plan for charitable giving this year if you are fortunate enough to have your needs met – there are so many children that desperately need a warm meal in their bellies and a little joy in their lives on Christmas morning.