parenting

10 Ways to Help Families in Need this Christmas

Are you worried that your decisions about how you handle Christmas gifts are feeding your child’s sense of entitlement? For families with young children, Santa often brings the more expensive items that your child has been eyeing all year long. However, just because your child wants something doesn’t mean that they are entitled to get everything on their Christmas list.

Yes, as parents, we want to give our kids the magical experience that comes along with Christmas time. But at the same time, we are often going above and beyond to the point where we are spoiling our children and making them “entitled little brats“.   Don’t get me wrong, it is okay to buy your children Christmas presents but this time of year is the perfect time to teach your kids how to give back and lose their sense of entitlement.

There are families out there who are struggling to give their children that magical experience because their parents don’t have the money to spend this year. We wanted to share our favorite ways you and your children help those in need this Christmas.  

Start a Neighborhood Food Drive

The holidays are tough for needy families as they are trying to stretch their monthly income as far as it can go during the last two months of the year. Many families are faced with the reality of choosing to buy their child that one gift that they really want and will cut corners including the monthly budget set aside for food.

This time of year food banks are busy trying to help needy families who have run out of food.   The food banks rely on donations from food drives and gifts to the food pantry directly. Grocery stores and other retailer partners donate food as well. Gather up a few of your child’s friend’s and walk the neighborhood collecting donations from your neighbors.

Once you have collected the food, you can take it directly to the food pantry. Don’t feel silly for walking into the food pantry carrying several bags of food. We promise that even small donations are appreciated and won’t be turned away. Here are a few items that are often overlooked that people need but can’t afford:

  • paper products
  • toilet paper
  • sugar
  • flour
  • diapers
  • baby wipes
  • formula
  • feminine products
  • shampoo
  • soap
  • razors
  • trash bags
  • cleaning supplies
  • gift cards loaded with $10 to $15 dollars

Visit the Nursing Home

How would you feel if you were in a nursing home and had no family to come visit you during the holidays? According to AARP, 1 and 5 Americans over the age of 65 years old are at risk of becoming an elder orphan. Elder orphan simply means that 1 and 5 Americans will not have a family member or someone to help them as they age. Then there are other elders that don’t have family close or family that can come visit them during the holidays.

But you and your children can help. Bake a few treats or make homemade Christmas cards to deliver to the nursing home. Seek permission from the nursing staff to walk around and visit with the elders. Something as a visit from a stranger can make a huge difference.

Adopt an Angel Tree

To adopt an child off the Angel Tree, you can go to your local mall or contact the Salvation Army to find locations. Pick out an Angel off the Christmas tree and purchase items on their wish list. Then take the purchased gifts back the specified location before the deadline. Don’t feel bad if you can’t afford to purchase everything on the child’s wish list. The child’s wish list will be placed back on the tree so that someone else can purchase items too.

Donate an Unwrapped Toy

Toy’s for Tots is run by the United States Marine Corps Reserve. They collect new, unwrapped toys and donate them to families who can’t afford to buy Christmas gifts for their kids. Find an official donation station for Toy’s for Tots here.

Invite Neighbors Who Live Alone to Dinner

The holiday’s can be a lonely time for some people because they either don’t have family nearby or anyone to celebrate with this year. Whether you know a neighbor who lives alone or your single co-worker who doesn’t have family to visit, invite them over to participate with your family meal time. Even if they say “no”, we promise they will know that you are thinking of them. You could even surprise them with a plate or treats.

Donate to a Go Fund Me Account

What would you do if you couldn’t afford to pay for an unexpected medical bill or another dire need? Go Fund Me is the most popular online fundraising and crowdfunding source. Find a story or stories that touch your heart and donate to their cause whether it is to fund their medical bills, memorial, emergency, to dreams, and wishes.

Make Ziploc Bags with Necessities for the Homeless

Winter time can be harsh for the homeless especially as temperatures drop. Now is a great time to gather up a few supplies and make individualized bags to pass out to the homeless that you come across. This is a project that can be collaborated with several families or a group of people. Here is a few suggestion of items to give them:

  • mouthwash
  • toothbrush
  • feminine products for the ladies
  • deodorant
  • packages of crackers
  • protein bars
  • granola or fruit bars
  • water bottle
  • hand sanitizer
  • package of wet wipes
  • gift cards loaded to local fast food places
  • snacks or candy
  • socks
  • quarters for the laundry mat
  • gloves
  • band-aids
  • chapstick

Help a Family You Know that is Struggling

Do you know a family who is struggling to make ends meet this year? Whether their financial problems are a result of major health problems, job loss, divorce, change of employment that resulted in a lower salary, house fire, car accident, car repairs, or any other circumstance that caused them financial stress. You can either ask the family directly what type of help they would like or you can give them cash or gift cards so they can distribute the funds as desired.

Donate to Church Benevolence Fund

Churches often have a benevolence fund so that they can help families struggling to pay their bills or put food on the table. During the economic turn down in 2008, most churches benevolence fund dried up. Now churches often have to tell families “no” when they ask for help. Your donation will go directly to help families in need within the community. When you make your donation, you must designate it to go to the benevolence fund or else it goes to the general fund.

Buy Extra Christmas Pajamas

Do your kid’s enjoy getting Christmas pajamas every year? Women who have taken their children with them to the women’s shelter, to escape domestic violence, are often are forced to leave their previous home with the clothes on their back. Sometimes, the kid’s are lucky and have a little bit of time to pack a few special items to take with them in a backpack or small duffel bag.

Buying several extra sets of festive Christmas pajamas can make a child’s day. Being in a homeless shelter this time of year can be depressing to the young mom who has uprooted her family in order to escape the abuse. But seeing the smile on her kid’s faces as they are able to pick out a new set of Christmas pajamas makes her day. Just a small gesture can bring this young mom hope of the things that are to come as she made a huge decision to leave her abuser.

You can get other families to join in and donate extra sets of Christmas pajamas so that each family can receive the blessing.

This time of year can be difficult for families who are doing everything in their power to stretch their budget to allow for Christmas gifts for their children. I’ve been in this situation when my older kids were little and I had no idea how I was going to pull off getting them a few presents from their Christmas list.

As a parent, we all want to give our children the magical moment when they open their gifts. However, me personally, I try not to go overboard because I don’t want my kids to be entitled brats. I want my children to realize that I give them things because I love them not because they are entitled. If you are able to help other’s in need, we came up with our favorite list of ways you and your family can help other’s this Christmas season.

Do you help families in need at Christmas time? How do you help families in need at Christmas time?

icecreamnstickyfingers

Christy has three children. She has over 22 years of parenting experience, including parenting as a young mom, a single parent, and dealing with chronic illness/pain. When she isn't writing, you can find her coloring, playing Candy Crush, and listening to Taylor Swift.

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18 Comments

  1. These are great ideas for helping families in need this holiday! We love giving to the Angel Tree each year.

  2. I need to do more of these. Normally we donate gifts, but I’d like to do more. I’ll have to see about volunteering.

  3. These are wonderful ideas. I always try my best to give back during the holiday season.

  4. Ashley says:

    We take the kids to the nursing homes around here. We also participate in food drives. It’s important to spread love.

  5. What wonderful ways to help families in need! When the kids were growing up, our family volunteered at our city’s homeless shelter, and on Sunday’s the girls led teams at the Food Bank. I love the idea of buying and donating Christmas pajamas for homeless children. Last year Old Navy had an awesome one-day sale on these. Fingers crossed they run a similar sale again this year!

  6. We always do Angel Tree every year and we love it! It’s a great tradition. I might try a few other ones you mentioned on here.

  7. It’s so important to give back throughout the year and especially during the holidays. These are great ways to do something good for those in need.

  8. A great reminder for us all to help those in need not just the holiday season but also just in general. Great one!!

  9. Ruth I says:

    This is the true meaning of Christmas. It’s a holiday of giving so just give! I am truly inspired by this idea.

  10. Victoria says:

    These are some great ideas. There are so many families that would be grateful for little acts of kindness like these.

  11. I love the idea of going to the local nursing home. That is absolutely perfect and I think my family would love participating with me in something like that.

  12. A little act of kindness goes a long way. We make sure to donate something at Christmas, but I hope we get to do more. Thank you for all these ideas.

  13. Monica Y says:

    These are all great ideas, we will be donating jackets and PJs to our local shelter

  14. These are some great suggestions. We donate to Toys For Tots a few times during the holiday season.

  15. We live across the street from a church, and each Thursday community members in need line up for food donations. It’s been a great teaching tool for my girls to see that there are people in need in our community and that making a difference in the world doesn’t mean we have to go far. The church has been very kind in working with my younger children, allowing them opportunities to help.

  16. These are wonderful ways to help to families in need for the happiest time of the year. Thanks for this tips.

  17. I wish I could do more to help families during the holiday season. We do what we can – and then also make sure to get a name from the giving tree.

  18. Debbie Mc says:

    What a beautiful list of ways to give to those less fortunate!!

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