Christmas charity engages everyone
By Katie Harris
This year my daughter Haley’s school is asking each student to fill a shoebox with items such as toys, school supplies, socks and toothbrushes to send to kids in need around the world as part of the Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child program.
When the letter came home from school explaining the project, I admit I got teary-eyed. My husband and I have made it a tradition to donate what we can to a couple of our favorite charities each year at Christmastime, but until now our kids have never had the opportunity to share in the “giving” part of the season with us.
This year we strolled into the local dollar store hand-in-hand, Haley and I carefully selecting items to add to our shoebox (she chose to make a box for a 2- to 4-year-old girl). My husband decided to take our son Matt with him to make a second shoebox to donate, this one for a 2- to 4-year-old boy. Even though our kids are still too young to fully grasp the meaning behind the project, the activity brought out an air of maturity in Haley far beyond her years as she thoughtfully browsed the shelves for items that were practical yet fun. For his part, Matt was delighted at the prospect of picking out Nerf balls and Matchbox cars for his “new little friend.”
At home we wrapped the boxes in colorful paper and wrote on the tags we’d printed the gender and age of the child for whom we’d designed each of the boxes. Soon we’ll receive emails tracking each of our boxes on their travels across the world.
I can say with certainty that our family has found a new Christmas tradition that will last for years to come, or at least as long as groups like Samaritan’s Purse continue to provide opportunities like this to help. There is something magical about working as a family to give not just presents, but hope to children who may not have much else to look forward to all year long.
I was so inspired by this project that I’ve since searched for other charity activities that can be shared as a family. Here are some top-notch ideas and resources I came across:
Kissmas Wishes 2011
Rocky Mountain Siamese Rescue
Ten Thousand Villages
This year, you can help disadvantaged artisans around the world while doing your holiday shopping. The handmade items are unique and affordable, and Ten Thousand Villages pays all of its partner artisans fair wages for their crafts. Visit the Fort Collins store located at 113 Linden St. or go to www.fortcollins.tenthousandvillages.com/ to shop online.
Watch the Wild
Visit www.volunteermatch.org/search to search for more local volunteer opportunities. You can also do an advanced search to find opportunities specific to kids or teens.