“It’s the hap-happiest season of allllll!” or so all the bright lights and merry music tell us! I love the holiday season for so many reasons, the decorations, the traditions, the food (definitely the food!) As we head into the holiday season, I know we are all swamped with preparations and expenses. We are focused on creating the perfect holiday for our families complete with beautifully decorated trees, delectable goodies, and that gift that we just know will light up our loved ones’ faces. It is easy during this season to be so focused on the things of Christmas that we forget the heart of Christmas: Love. Generosity. Hope.
In a world where we can get so caught up in ourselves, what if this Christmas, we determined to intentionally show our kids the true meaning of Christmas by giving others that love, hope, and generosity? The truth is, Christmas is anything but jolly for a lot of hurting people out there. In our own busyness and excitement, we often forget that. It is especially common for our kids to get caught up in the “me” mentality around the holidays. Growing up, when we reached a certain age, my grandparents switched from giving us physical presents to donating to a charity in our honor. This impacted me deeply, even as a teenager. I remember reading about who our present was going to help and feeling both heartbreak for the hurting people and joy that a present in my name was going to bring them hope. I am so grateful my grandparents made this wise choice and gave us the lasting gift of compassion, empathy, and a heart for others.
You may not replace your teen’s gifts with a donation like my grandparents did, but Christmas is still the perfect time to guide your teens into a heart of giving. If you want a tangible way to teach your kids the joy of giving and the true meaning of Christmas, here is a list of some inspiring organizations. Read through it with your kids and as a family, you can discuss them and choose one (or more!) that speaks to your heart. Giving your kids some ownership and part in giving will help them reframe their mindset to see this holiday differently. They likely won’t remember the Xbox game, cute sweater, and over-priced earbuds forever. But a kind and compassionate heart? That is a gift that will serve them well their entire lives.
Compassion International Compassion International is a well-known and well-accredited charity with an incredible reach. Their heart is to help children, families, and communities living in poverty in third-world countries. The people they reach are in desperate need and dire situations. Death from lack of clean resources and medical care, abandonment or exploitation of children, or heartbreaking rates of illness run rampant in these communities. Compassion International strives to help that through practical solutions. You can browse their catalog and choose from a long list of needs. They offer everything from donating clean water, disaster relief, medical care, needs for pregnant mothers and newborn babies, ongoing child sponsorship, resources for families to provide for themselves, education, and more!
World Vision World Vision has a deep passion for helping those suffering in third-world countries as well as the U.S, and work to teach the communities to support themselves through farming, teaching them about proper medical care and clean water. You can sponsor a child or buy goats, chickens, and other farm animals. They also offer provisions for families in poverty, relief for the Ukraine crisis, COVID resources, help for those who have been sexually exploited, and more. You can take a look at some of their donating options online or request a catalog for a full list of needs. Right now, they have several donation-matching programs to multiply your gift and impact.
One Simple Wish – For children living in foster care, life can be very cruel and confusing. One Simple Wish is a program dedicated to bringing light in the midst of these kids’ darkest times. You can browse through a list of children’s wishes by age, price range, or category and donate to make one of their simple dreams come true.
Operation Christmas Spirit – Everyone involved in a military family sacrifices more for us and our country than the rest of us will ever know. Operation Christmas Spirit is meant to bring joy and support to these heroes during what can be a lonely and trying season. With several ways to donate or help out, this charity is eager for your help to bring joy this Christmas!
Make-A-Wish – Make-A-Wish is a well-known organization with a beautiful mission. Any and every child or teen that has received a life-threatening diagnosis can make a wish and these Fairy Godparents make it come true, all at no expense to the child’s family! Some of these kids won’t survive their illnesses, and these wish are their last gift and provide wonderful memories for the grieving families. As someone who personally knew a child who had a wish granted (An entire week in Rome, a limo ride to the airport, all expenses paid trip!) I can say that Make-A-Wish absolutely goes ABOVE and BEYOND for each of the children involved.
Meals On Wheels – We often focus on the children at Christmas time, but this time of year can be brutal on the overlooked and forgotten senior citizens as well. Many of them live all alone, in poverty and sickness unable to keep themselves warm, fed, and healthy. The holidays can be an especially sorrowful time as they are so often left by themselves longing for the days when their family remembered and cared for them. Meals on Wheels provides warm and healthy meals and an encouraging smile as it brings food straight to their door.
Convoy Of Hope – If you are looking for a group that does it all, check out Convoy Of Hope! From domestic to international help, disaster relief, women’s empowerment, children’s feeding, aid for rural areas, and more this organization just wants to bring hope and restoration wherever there is a need.
F.R.E.E International – Of all the horrific evils that exist in our world, sex trafficking is certainly one of the most atrocious. F.R.E.E International is dedicated to rescuing men, women, and children out of slavery and exploitation through a variety of ways including, search and rescue events, resources for law enforcement and hospitals, shelter, and help for survivors of trafficking, education for teens on how to recognize they are being groomed, and more. Donating to F.R.E.E helps bring freedom this Christmas to someone living in unimaginable suffering.
Angel Tree – For children with a parent living in prison, the holidays can be anything but merry and bright. Instead, Christmas can be a cruel reminder of what they are missing. Angel Tree provides inmates the ability to send their children Christmas presents to ensure their kids know that they are loved and not forgotten. These kids are living a nightmare that is not of their doing, and they deserve a little Christmas cheer too. You can check out their page for more information, and they currently have a grant that will match your gift and double its impact!
Operation Christmas Child – If you want to provide a gift that is not just a monetary value, or you want to get your kids involved hands-on in a project, Operation Christmas Child is a fantastic choice! They send Christmas gifts to children in poverty in third-world countries that include toys, school supplies, and hygiene products. You can get your shoeboxes sent to you and have fun as a family filling them with fun and helpful trinkets to send to a child overseas!
771 million people lack basic access to clean and safe drinking water. Charity Water is on a mission to change that.
They believe that sustainable work is locally-led. Along with implementing community-owned water projects, their local partners help facilitate comprehensive water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) programming to protect everyone’s long-term health. 100% of all public donations bring clean water to people in need.