Christmas Giving

Something about this time of year makes even the Scroogiest person start thinking about doing a little something for their fellow man. There are about a frillion different ways to help others, and lots of worthwhile organizations are doing everything they can to make it as easy as possible! You probably have your own favorite causes to contribute to, but just in case you are looking for some new ideas… Here are a few of the Taff family’s favorite ways to give:

** From the time they were little, Madi and Charlotte have each ceremoniously picked out an angel from the Angel Tree. Their angel choices varied from year to year. Sometimes they’d choose a child exactly the same age they were, sometimes they went for the toddlers or babies, and several seasons in a row we opted for the ‘Adopt a Senior’ Angel tree. Madi especially enjoyed shopping for the little boys and the little old ladies– I’d always have to rein her in, she would pile the cart higher and higher adding just one more thing “they really, really need.” We’ve made some great memories during these shopping trips, and I highly recommend it. ( A slight variation on that theme: this year our local Kroger stores have partnered with the Salvation Army to create a Food Angel tree. You can simply choose a tag from the tree and take it with you to the register when you’re ready to check out. The cashier will scan it and add $25 to your grocery bill, which will go towards providing an Angel Tree Family enough groceries for several meals. No muss, no fuss, nothing to wrap!)

** Thistle Farms products directly support my very favorite charity, Magdalene House. In addition to their usual list of incredible handmade body products, they’ve put together some special holiday candles and potpourri packages– they make amazing gifts AND you are directly helping change the lives of some of the strongest, most courageous women I have ever met.

** ‘Bloomr Nation’s own beloved Betty Morris (aka Themema) was a huge fan of the Samaritan Purse’s Operation Christmas Child program. She shopped all year long, squirreling away flip flops, toothbrushes, school supplies and toys– then she strong-armed all of her friends into helping her stuff those shoeboxes! (I know Momma Lloyd was a very willing participant!) The deadline for this year’s boxes has come and gone, but it’s not too early to start thinking about next Christmas… And if you do decide to participate, do it in honor of our Betty, the Christmas Shoebox Queen.

** This year I learned all about a very worthwhile ministry from my sweet friend and fellow blogger Jamie Reeves. It’s a Brooklyn, New York-based organization called Metro Ministries that has been working with families in need since 1980. Founded by Pastor Bill Wilson (who has more than a few incredible stories of his own to tell…), Metro Ministries reaches more than 40,000 inner-city children and their families every week in NY and around the world. They have a special outreach at Christmas time, Operation Holiday Hope, and for as little as $10 you can help insure that every child that attends their inner-city Sunday School will receive a beautifully wrapped Christmas present of their own. (It’s easy– I just did it!)  From Dec. 1 -12 they will also be featuring a different child’s story each day so you can see Metro Ministries in action for yourself. Check it out!


So… I’d love to hear about your favorite ways to give during the Christmas season– share with the class, won’t you?

25 Responses

  1. kidpyramid

    We’ve done the angel tree a few times. This year we put a homeless woman amd her son up for a couple of weeks while they waited to get into a shelter as well as providing them with food.

    We also sent gift cards to a friend so she could provide nutritious food for her family.

  2. rachelbaker

    Samaritan’s Purse shoe boxes are a worldwide phenomenon. Its something the whole family can get involved with.

    I’ve never heard of the Angel Tree, but am going to enjoy reading about it along with Metro Ministries.

    The main thing we do at Christmas is make sure that the children we sponsor get an extra ‘surprise’ gift from us. In the past we have paid for gifts for the children, their families and parties in their schools.

    I was at a Matraca Berg concert a few weeks ago and she talked a lot about Magdalene House and Thistle Farms before singing her beautiful song ‘Magdalene’. It made me think of you :-)

  3. Barbara M. Lloyd

    Bless her sweet heart, working with Betty was a joy. Every year our number of shoe boxes increased quite a bit. You know how you put a note to the child in each box? Well, Betty and I received letters from three different children through the years. That was so exciting.

    Our family has always been involved in picking names and information from an angel tree in the lobby of a department store. A couple of years we even had an angel tree in our church. A lady crocheted angels that covered the tree…underneath each one was a name of a family with information on each member of that family.

    For several years, I was in charge of collecting and distributing food, clothes and toys to seven different families. Church members filled the boxes in the church lobby for several weeks and our church school had a white Christmas where they brought canned goods wrapped in white tissue paper. That is, they did that the first year. I got so tired of unwrapping those cans that I called off the white Christmas idea and renamed it a love offering. Each of seven Sunday School classes gave a turkey. Another lady and I loaded up the church van and took off with the addresses we had for seven homes all over the county…none of whom we knew and some were very hard to find out in the country. One year we came to this little home where the door was unlocked and no one home. We supposed they left the door open for us. There was a little tree trimmed with homemade paper ornaments. The refrigerator was bare but not for long. We put the toys and clothes under the tree and as we were leaving we saw a rather large picture of Jesus hanging on the wall. When we got back to church there was one family who had not received their things. Seems we delivered their’s to the wrong address. My friend and I consoled ourselves by saying there are no accidents in a Christian’s life….after all, didn’t they have Jesus’ picture in their home? We have lauged so many times at how wonderfully surprised that little family must have been when they came home that day. But for that moment, we had to get on the phone and beg money from our church family to replace all those things so we could make our 8th trip of the day to a waiting family. This was so contageous and filled our hearts so much that we did this on a smalled scale at other times of the year. One time we took a turkey to a family who lived in one room and no cooking stove. My partner and I went home, baked the cotton pickin turkey plus a cake and a couple of other things and took it back to them. There are many stories…like the tme we were taking a very large meatloaf (raw and to be baked) to a family and we saw a dog with small puppies who was so skinny,so we broke off some of that hamburg and fed that mother dog before going into the house. (probably only a dog lover would understand) One time we took a table and chairs to a family and we were so excited we were able to get that donation so we could do that. Next time we went, they had used the table and chairs as wood for their fireplace to keep warm. We only had two or three things like that where it was disappointing.

    When I was a little girl, I would always go wth my dad late on Christmas Eve to Mr. Taylor’s men’s clothing store. Upstairs, at Christmas, Mr. Taylor sold all kinds of toys. After the store closed on Christmas Eve he would let my dad and me come in and pick out a few toys, even discounted to dad, and then we would drive out in the country to a man’s home who worked with my dad at the newspaper. Dave and his wife would be waiting for us and we would take the toys into the house and put them around the tiny little tree, trimmed with precious paper messages and chain. We had to be so quiet and I remember how I would always shiver with excitement. That was the best part of my Christmas every year. Doncha know that family named one of their babies after me!

  4. LindaB

    Our church does the giving tree and the shoe boxes, but our small group decided to do something in the community to help folks in need on our own. There is a lady in our group who works with “FosterHope”, a local group that helps foster kids, and we decided to do something for them this Christmas season. Most of these kids are removed from abusive homes in the middle of the night——can you imagine what it would be like for a child to be in the middle of an adult highly emotional and frightening conflict when the police come and take you away with just the clothes on your back? To a strange place? And you’re expected to go to sleep and get up the next morning and go to school and function like nothing happened? And you don’t have your own “stuff”? We made “care kits” for every size (37 in all)—–several prs. of underwear, pajamas, two outfits for school, shoes, socks, and a book bag if they’re of school age. It helps the foster parents so they don’t have to spend the first day…..or night…. with their foster child shopping for clothes to wear the next day! And the child has something of his or her own. We made kits for babies too. Then we got carried away and now we’re working on painting and furnishing an apartment for some 18 year olds who’ve cycled out of foster care and are looking for work……a sort of halfway house. One lady has curtain rods and curtains to donate, someone else had a comforter and sheets. Someone else had a bed and frame….someone had a night table….and so on. I’m getting some new pillows tomorrow for it. It was fun working with these ladies and getting to know them—–our church is so big, there are many people we haven’t even met yet. And its makes you feel so good that we can make these forgotten children’s lives a little better. They’ve been through so much.

  5. blondie

    Our church at home does the angel tree. Here on base, one of the organizations do their own version of “toys for tots,” so we’ve been buying for that the past couple of years. I love Samaritan’s Purse, they do such a good work. Also, several years ago, my sweet friend and I decided we had enough stuff, so we use the money we would have used on each other at Christmas to give to a worthy cause. We’ve supported national organizations some years and we’ve anonymously given to needy families in our church on others. They are the best Christmas gifts I’ve ever given.

  6. DonnaMariePatterson

    This year I thought I would do something different. I’m going to believe that God popped this idea in my mind, just for this special person. ‘Mama Ginny’ went into a nursing home this year. She’s smart as a whip but it was getting dangerous, physically, for her to be alone. The nursing home is not located in her little hometown or near her church family. She needed to be closer to kinfolk that had moved away so they could visit her regularly. She was always faithful in her church and a sweet, giving, christian lady. Mama Ginny told me that she gets a lot of mail from her old friends, but now she is no longer able to write them back (physically). Yesterday I went and bought a bunch of different Christmas cards and I’m going to visit Mama Ginny at the nursing home. I will let her pick and choose which cards she wants to sent to her friends and I will write whatever she wants me to write in them. I will address them and mail them with special Christmas stamps. She is a ‘giver’ of love and friendship and I know it will bless her heart to surprise her friends at Christmas. And, as I was typing this, I decided it doesn’t have to end at Christmas; I can go write letters for her and mail them on a regular basis. Thank you, Lord, for Your wonderful ideas!! Merry Christmas Tori and to all your family!

  7. tori

    kidpyramid: Good for you! Gift cards are always a good idea, they can be used to cover so many different kinds of needs.

    rachelbaker: How great to send an extra gift to a sponsored child– I’ve never heard of being able to provide $$ for a party at their school, that’s fabulous! And yeah, Matraca has done benefits and appeared at events for Magdalene for years. (Isn’t she beautiful?)

    Momma Lloyd: You could write a book about your “Christmas Adventures in Giving!” Those are some of the best stories I’ve ever heard (Wonder if Betty gets to fill up any shoeboxes in heaven? Just doesn’t seem like it would really be heaven for her if she couldn’t help somebody!)

    LindaB– BRILLIANT idea about the halfway house for kids who have aged out of foster care! They are so often forgotten about or overlooked, and I don’t think there’s much (if any) follow-up for those kids… I think that is a great answer for a very real need.

    Blondie: Love that! We did that for several years in our family, too– then we’d sit around the tree and tell each other what they “got” (gave) for Christmas! I remember one year I gave a goat in my mom’s name, and she bought a missionary a bicycle in mine!

    DonnaMariePatterson: Oh my gosh– I think this is one of my all-time favorite ideas! The gift of time and kindness… As Gloria Gaither says, “Do something eternal.”

  8. bettyrwoodward

    We did Samaritan’s purse shoeboxes at our church as well. We are also collecting food for a resource centre in the town.

  9. Barbara M. Lloyd

    E-Mail from Heaven:

    Merry Christmas, everybody. I’ve never been happier…with a seat at all of the Homecoming artists’ concerts, front row center….and Meemaw tucked under my arm as we run all over Heaven. Do you know that she can keep perfect time with her tail wagging at those concerts but sometimes she jumps when Vestal hits high C. And she has a big ‘ole grin that matches mine. Well, we have to run now….so many feet to wash.

    Love y’all,

  10. tori

    HA!!!!! Love that, Momma Lloyd– and I can just see it perfectly in my mind (and heart!)

  11. LindaB

    Me too!

  12. Barbara M. Lloyd
  13. Gramma Jac
  14. Barbara M. Lloyd

    Thank you, Grandma Jack….and here is another I would like to share. It’s the story of Jesus’ birth as illustrated by children. Marry Christmas everyone…how very blessed we are.

  15. jonny

    Well, for what it’s worth and a change of subject, today is a rather interesting one for me. I have now been living in Finland 20 years.

  16. Barbara M. Lloyd

    Gracious, jonny, I hope they have been 20 happy years. Merry Christmas!

  17. jonny

    Thanks Barbara !! And Merry Christmas to you as well = ) They celebrate it on the 24th in Finland, so it’s already Christmas over here as I type this !! = )

  18. Gramma Jac

    Merry Christmas to you all, my cyber-friends!!!I am so thankful for all of you!

  19. bettyrwoodward

    Happy Christmas and God bless you all. Stuart and Betty

  20. jonny

    And, Happy Birthday Momma Love !! = )

  21. kstary

    We have been giving to Metro Ministries for many years. Actually, you can adopt a child and send support to them all year long. We have met Bill Wilson twice, and I can say that he is the real deal. One of my absolute favorite places to give.

  22. jonny

    Happy New Year everyone = )

  23. Gramma Jac

    Happy New Year to you jonny–and to everyone else!! Bring on 2013!!

  24. weegie

    Have not heard from you for awhile. Looking forward to new postings.

  25. Barbara M. Lloyd

    While we are waiting for our Tori to catch up with all her responsibilities after the holidays, perhaps we all could give a capsule report on our holiday celebrations.

    One of my sons lives in Beaufort, about 3 hours’ drive from me. He and his wife arrive a few days before Christmas…and the fun begins. He is the grandfather of my three great-grands, so we finish any shopping left and begin our parties. We have a pieza party for the little ones and let them open their gifts from all of us, giving them our full attention…and one uncle in particular is quickly on the floor playing with the toys, too, especially if super heroes are involved.
    We have the adult Christmas Dinner and gift opening on Christmas Eve…and I usually hear at least one growing-up story that is “news” to me. It thrills my heart to hear my children talk about their growing-up days and laughing together…sometimes with tears in their eyes.

    Christmas morning we have a big breakfast and the children’s favorite is blueberry pancakes. My sons look forward to crispy-fried scrapple and coffee chees, both of which make their wives gag…but their sister joins in very enthusiastically.

    I’d love to hear about everyone’s Christmas. By then, our sweet Tori will have caught her breath and have another post ready for us to enjoy.

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