Decorating trees, baking cookies, wrapping presents; all these things are easily equated with the weeks leading up to Christmas. However Advent, with it’s 40 days and purple vestments, should also remind us of Lent and thus hopefully inspire us to include fasting, penance and almsgiving into our preparation, though to a lesser extent, as we approach the Savior’s birth. Admittedly, it’s hard to fast with so many feast days and “holiday” parties, and while standing in line at Walmart may seem penitential, we are usually too wrapped up in the joy of the season to think much of mortification. But almsgiving; it shouldn’t be much of a stretch for us to give a little extra this month when we’re already so focused on giving right? In fact, perhaps if we shift our focus to the right kind of giving we can take the limelight off all the stuff and back on the Savior. Here’s some ideas to bring charity back into your holiday plans.
Spend time, not money. Work at a food pantry, organize a coat or canned food drive, carol at a nursing home, volunteer at a homeless shelter. Spend some of those vacation days doing something besides stuffing your face.
Give donations not just gifts. If someone on your list has a favorite charity, give a gift in their honor. We’ve also given animals through Heifer International. If there is a family in your parish or community who is struggling to make ends meet, offer to help shop for presents, food or give an early gift card so they can provide a happier holiday for their family. I’ve found people through Craigslist to help around Christmas. Ask your kids if they’d like to give one of their new presents to a child in need instead.
Purchase from charitable organizations. For the people on your list you want to buy gifts for, why not buy from an organization that helps small crafters bring their products to a larger market?
A great organization that’s giving back is Connected in Hope:
[We’re] an innovative nonprofit social enterprise & lifestyle brand that empowers women in Ethiopia to rise above poverty through sustainable income development. Our mission is to break intergenerational cycles of poverty by providing women artisans with the tools they need to reclaim their own futures, provide for their children and transform their communities.
Your purchase of one of their beautiful scarves, bags or jewelry pieces provides so much more than a Christmas present.
I’m so happy to partner with Connected in Hope to give one lucky reader a chance to win a $35 gift credit towards anything in their store! If you can’t wait to shop, use the code KELLYFS15 for free shipping on your order! I’m eyeing up the TIGIST two-toned tote and hoping Santa brings it for me instead of the usual lump of coal.
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Now that you’ve entered, be sure to let me know: What suggestions or family traditions do you have for incorporating charitable giving into your holiday routine?