The holidays are here and while I love to buy gifts family and friends, I’m ever mindful of how important it is to make sure that we give as much, or dare I say even more, than we get. But let’s be honest ~ staying focused on giving can be drowned out by all the materialistic noise that this time of year has become defined by. While I love to shop in the midst of the season, I refuse to do so on Thanksgiving, Black Friday, or Cyber Monday. This trio is a frenzy of spending that just isn’t what I want the gift giving process to be all about. Not to mention I love supporting #SmallBusinessSaturday.
So in the aftermath of Black Friday and Cyber Monday’s chaos, #GivingTuesday is a fantastic reminder to keep your eye on the prize and give. Because we like to include our kids in this process, not only at the holidays but all year long, I have always looked for giving opportunities that will resonate with them as much as my husband and myself. Over the years, we’ve settled into tradition that is actually more service based than donation oriented. They are mix of home town, faith filled and community service opportunities that are an honor to be part of. The best part is they have stood the test of time and our now tween, teen, and twenty year old depend on participating in them yearly too.
Serving the Homeless
We are fortunate to have a very visible homeless outreach in our area thanks to the Raleigh Rescue Mission. Among the many things they do is offer groups of all sizes the opportunity to host a Donation Drive for a variety of supplies. Groups can then bring those in and tour the facility too, making a lasting impact about what being homeless and needing support is all about. This year we’ll be working to create Homeless Care Kits with a variety of items that folks truly need. We’ll not only donate these to the Mission but keep them in our cars as well so we can have them on hand anytime we meet someone in need all winter long.
Serving at and Donating to our Local Food Bank
One of the great things about older kids is they can participate in activities that include adults too. One of these is the local food bank. While some may offer family days for younger kids, food banks most often need teens and adults who can handle heavy lifting too. Volunteering to both donate food and serve time working in whatever way might be needed is a needed reminder for our very blessed kids that things as simple as food are a daily struggle in our community.
Volunteering at The Christmas Store
Thanks to a blogging project in 2011, I discovered The Christmas Store and we have volunteered there as a family ever year every since. Hosted by a local church, The Christmas Store is a charity outreach in partnership with Western Wake Ministries. Families are qualified for participation and then invited to visit The Christmas Store where they can shop for 3 gifts for as many children as they have of all ages. Guests are hosted for a fun night with refreshments, Santa, and childcare so that parents can be escorted through the shop for gifts. At the end of their visit, gifts are wrapped and tagged and guests are assisted with loading their cars. My daughter and I love to wrap and my husband and sons spend time loading gifts. Its incredibly humbling and touches very close to home since all of our kids have at one time or another recognized a family who has come through. You truly never know who is in need at this very busy time of year.
Supporting Middle and High School Angel Trees
Each December, both our local middle and high schools place an Angel Tree in the office. Its covered in tags shaped like angels that are dedicated to students in the school community. While they don’t include the student’s name, they do include the age and sex of the student as well as a gift item. It is about the most powerful close to home example of peer based need our children can have.
Donating at Build-A-Bear Workshop for Toys for Tots
Build-A-Bear Workshop is an all time family favorite brand for our family for SO many reasons! Founder Maxine Clark is an amazing leader for women in business and I’m blessed to have met and worked with her personally and consider her a mentor and friend. A brand routed in giving, love, and friendship, one of the many partnerships they support is Build-A-Bear Toys for Tots for in store donations. A trip to the mall is a given with teens. Stopping by Build-A-Bear Workshop with a group of friends to make and donate a bear is about as perfect as can be. I never want my children to forget that magic and joy that is this brand and what it stands for.
The reality is #GivingTuesday is just one day. Teaching our teens to serve all year long is the real goal and #GivingTuesday goes along way for keeping them focused at the holidays. Tell me…
What are your favorite ways to encourage your teems to take charge of giving?
We’ve got a busy holiday season upon us ~ I so hope we see you here to help you stay organized and on track to enjoy the season as much as those you love will too. Thanks so much for stopping by ~ see you next time!