The holidays are quickly approaching and many of us are already busy curating those Christmas lists (I know my kids are already very busy letting me know what they want for Christmas). Christmas is not supposed to be about all we can get but it’s supposed to be a time that we can show generosity to others. God gave his only son so that we could have eternal life in Heaven with him! This is the essence of the Christmas story. Let’s be intentional about letting God’s example of generosity be our guide for how we celebrate this holiday season.
We want to give not just to those in our homes that we love but we are called to give to those who may need an extra dose of God’s love delivered by his people. Here is a list to help inspire you to think outside of your four walls this holiday season. The challenge for you is to give as a family to at least one person or organization that may need some extra love during the holidays.
1. Youth Living in Group Homes
Youth living in group homes and typically there at no fault of their own. They are essentially orphaned because there is no family willing or able to care for them. These youth are at high risk for so many poor life outcomes. The holidays can be an especially tough time for these young people, as they may have no one in their lives that is taking the time to celebrate with them.
Research the local nonprofits or agencies such as your local department of social services that work with these youth and find a way to “adopt” one or two over the holiday season. This may look like fulfilling their Christmas wish list, writing them cards to express care for them in this season, finding out if you could meet with them, or bringing them a meal over the holiday season. Many nonprofits will make this process easy for you by allowing you to sign up for a child and letting you know how you can be a blessing to them this Christmas.
2. Foster Parents and Foster Children
The holidays add an extra layer of need for families and children who are in foster care. This season can be especially challenging to both the foster parents caring for foster kids and for the youth themselves, as celebrating the holidays away from your family is just plain hard. Behaviors and needs can spike over the holiday season. This is a great time to help ease some of this burden by taking a moment to love on these families who are in the trenches of caring for families that are dealing with this sort of hardship.
Take these families a holiday meal, treat, buy them some extra coffee, or help them financially shoulder the burden of buying Christmas for an additional child. Foster parents do not get an additional stipend to help them manage the holidays, so offering them financial support in this season is a great way to ensure that they are able to love on their foster kids in a big way!
3. Social Workers
Guess who does not get a break over the Christmas holidays… social workers! They are on call year-round and have to make themselves always available to the families and children that they support. Being a social worker is a job that requires so much sacrificial love and social workers make all the difference in the lives of the families that they serve.
Show the social workers in your community some extra love and appreciation this year! Contact your local DSS and ask if you can deliver some holiday cheer to these public servants. Join up with your church or small group to invest in some gift cards and tokens of appreciation that will lift the spirits of these important workers this holiday season.
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Wave Break Media
Teachers have had a tough few years! Teachers have been navigating a pandemic that has turned our education system upside down. Students are struggling with the major impacts of having their worlds being rocked these past few years. On top of just the struggle of dealing with so much change and uncertainty, studies show there are significant learning lags in English and math for all students due to the pandemic. I think it’s safe to assume our teachers are feeling stressed out!
Teachers give so much more of their time and talents than fit in the school day. Most of them work long extra unpaid hours that bleed into their nights and weekends. This is because the majority of teachers truly love their students and desire to see them thrive. Let’s give them the morale boost they need this year and invest in our educators this holiday season. Write them letters of appreciation, bless them with some great gift cards, go big on the handmade treats, or just ask them what your family can do to help them ease some of the extra stress they have been navigating these past few years.
5. The Homeless and Those Dealing with Poverty
Those living in poverty are not able to experience the holidays with the same cheer that the rest of our culture enjoys. The expectation that their kids should receive gifts and have time to celebrate as a family may feel like a heavy burden when money is tight. In most areas, there are some great organizations that try to partner with families in need to help them provide Christmas for their children. Research ways you can support a local homeless shelter, soup kitchen, food bank, or other nonprofits that strive to meet the needs of the least of these in our communities.
6. Those in Prison
Those in prison are forced to observe the holidays all on their own. Many times inmates are transferred away from family, making it hard for them to stay connected to loved ones while serving their sentences. Those who are incarcerated deserve to experience the love of God this Christmas. Connect with local jail ministries or reach out to your local jails and find out how you can bless this population.
Recently our church has spent time connecting to our local jail and hundreds of inmates have turned their life over to Jesus. Their stories, passion, and appreciation for the Gospel are beautiful to watch. The church should not let those that may be out of sight stay out of our minds. We are called to love the down and out of our society. Let’s be the hands and feet of Jesus this Christmas.
7. Global Needs and Missions
There are so many great ways to serve and give globally to others over the holiday season. Our family has packed boxes for Operation Christmas Child for the past several years. My kids have loved getting to choose items for kids their same age and writing them a heartfelt card makes the practice feel very personal. This is a tangible way for me to not only bless a kid on the other side of the world but for my kids to learn what generosity looks like.
Shear Love International trains people from all walks of life. Whether coming from a background of poverty, abuse, exploitation, or trafficking, we believe all people deserve an education and an opportunity to succeed. You can donate money to feed a family or get connected with their other missions this holiday season. Compassion International is a wonderful organization that connects you to a child in need from another part of the world. Adopt a child for your family to not only invest in over the holidays but for the whole year.
The Christmas season is an invitation to you to choose to step outside your comfort zone to reach out to others that might not know the good news of Jesus. We have a chance to focus our thoughts on the gift God has given us in his son Jesus who stepped down from Heaven and took the form of a man so that we might believe. Give love, give of your time, give of your heart, and of your abundance as you celebrate Jesus!
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/photographer
Amanda Idleman is a writer whose passion is to encourage others to live joyfully. She writes devotions for My Daily Bible Verse Devotional and Podcast, Crosswalk Couples Devotional, the Daily Devotional App, she has work published with Her View from Home, on the MOPS Blog, and is a regular contributor for Crosswalk.com. You can find out more about Amanda on her Facebook Page or follow her on Instagram.