As we perused the toy section during a routine shopping trip, my son casually asked if I would buy him a Star Wars LEGO set. We’re just over a month away from Christmas, so my gentle, yet firm reaction was to teach him the value of patience and delayed gratification. In a world where there is always a larger, more complex (translation: more pieces) trending licensed LEGO set, I’m striving to model the value of giving and being other-centered.
Christmas is widely defined by tradition, and even more important than stringing lights, hanging ornaments and baking homemade cinnamon rolls is our annual shopping trip to purchase toys for children who may not normally receive gifts. The very first time we shopped, my kids were confused…it felt unnatural for them to pick out toys they really wanted only to turn around and place them in the donation box set up by Toys for Tots. But that moment of discomfort was fleeting and the significance of putting someone ahead of ourselves is enduring.
I know that you have gifts to buy and Christmas cards to send out and turkeys to bake…but maybe this holiday season you can pause for a moment and think about how you can help make a difference in someone else’s life? Giving doesn’t have to be elaborate or stretch you beyond your means. With just $10, you can share God’s love and the joy of the season. I can think of an entire list of free or very inexpensive ways to brighten someone’s day, but here are our favorites!
1. Purchase $10 worth of toys and donate them to Toys for Tots. I absolutely love this program and it is one we have supported for many years. Run by the US Marine Corps Reserve, Toys for Tots distributes toys to children whose parents are not able to purchase Christmas gifts. During the holidays, boxes are set up in locations across the country, making it easy for families to shop and then donate in one location. My kids pick out the toys, which adds a personal touch to this simple act and makes it more meaningful for them.
2. Purchase $10 worth of shelf-stable foods and pack Love Lunches to give out to the homeless. Residing in or traveling to any major city means you likely encounter men and women living on the streets in some capacity. Very often my desire to assist conflicts with my reluctance to simply give cash. Packing a shelf-stable lunch meets the homeless population’s most basic need and affords you an opportunity to include a simple message of hope and joy. My kids and I packed lunches as a Scouting activity and I used this opportunity to talk to them about homelessness and how those Love Lunches can be used to share God’s love.
3. Purchase $10 worth of school supplies and donate them to Schools On Wheels. Across the globe, there are homeless children struggling to complete their education when their most basic need is not being met. Schools on Wheels is a local organization that provides support services such as tutoring, school supplies, scholarships and more for homeless children, in order to mitigate the education gap that often characterizes this population. Together, my kids and I packed school supplies inside a backpack and talked about the blessings of education, specifically the school they attend and the teachers that educate them every single day. If you have a child that struggles to understand the importance of education, donating to a charity that reaches homeless children is a great way to broaden a child’s world perspective.
Evangelical Christian Credit Union (ECCU) wants to inspire generosity through their #GiveTen campaign this holiday season. Their hope (which mirrors mine) is that with just $10, you and I can share God’s love this season. Whether it’s paying it forward by purchasing a cup of coffee for the person behind you or donating your time and some of your resources to a charity you’re passionate about, I’d love to see your creativity as we make a difference in our communities $10 at a time.
Last month, I introduced you to ECCU and shared my guide to financing a car (which by the way might come in handy as we near the end of the year and dealerships are closing out their inventory of 2015 vehicles). This full-service credit union is distinct in that their services help you as a Christian be the best steward of the resources you’ve been afforded. With checking, savings, investment and loan solutions, every dollar of member deposits is used to fuel Christ-centered ministry across the globe. Profits are invested in social causes, and to date, ECCU has awarded $4.58 million in grants.
How would you spend $10 to do the most good for someone else? I’ve partnered with ECCU and their #GiveTen Generosity Challenge to inspire you to share your own stories of giving on the brand’s Facebook page for a chance to win $500. You can learn more by visiting ECCU.org/GiveTen. And for additional ideas to inspire your #GiveTen stories of compassion, visit my friend and author Tricia Goyer.