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Serving During the Holidays–Community Focus

We’ve had quite a bit of interest in larger projects that families can take on for the holidays. This is the first four posts focusing on holiday ideas to help others.

For this First Tinsel Post, I’ve written a list of ideas that would focus on serving in the community.  These projects would take more than just one 15-20 minutes.

Some of these can be completed by doing something little everyday and others would need a larger block of time.

Collect nonperishable items for a canned food drive.  Please contact the local food pantry to find out what the current needs are.  I would suggest that you approach the communities that your children are familiar with (school, church, and neighborhood).  That way they will be more comfortable in asking for donations from people.  This following may give you contacts and information to better understand the need for this type of service.  Feeding America

Adopt a family in need and provide several acts of service.  This could be weekly for a month or two or for several times during a week.  You can work with the family ahead of time to do this, or you can do this anonymously.  My family has done this anonymously and have enjoyed it.  Depending on the needs of the family and the resources that you can dedicate to this, it can be as simple as raking leaves and leaving notes to a bit more costly in specifically providing gifts for each family member.  If you aren’t sure who to serve, you can contact church organizations, counselors at local schools, and community organizations like The Salvation Army and the Center of Hope (for Massachusetts and Connecticut).

One family I know collected all their change in a jar during the fall and purchased toys for Toys for Tots.  The children had a great time when donating to the jar, talking about how much they would have to buy a toy by the time they went shopping for the gift.  The children had great fun deliberating the options and finally choosing the gift when it was time to donate.

The Holiday Project may be a source of information if you are looking to bring some holiday cheer to individuals in nursing homes or hospitals.  Look for the “Local Holiday Project Areas” link at the bottom left to see if there is a chapter near you.

Call a local nursing home and see if there is a resident or two that needs some additional service during this time.  I imagine that a weekly visit and notes would be a great way to show additional love during a time that can emphasize the loneliness that many residents feel.

Get a group together and go caroling at a nursing home.  Put a little more time into this idea and I bet you could get a whole holiday talent show planned to provide some much needed entertainment.  Start by getting your friends together and contacting nursing homes to gauge needs and schedule.

Be An Elf works with local post offices in sharing letters from children in need and finding volunteers to become an Elf and fulfill those needs.  See the site for participating locations.

Collect coats and blankets and donate them to a local homeless shelter.  Remember that homeless shelters that provide services for children need warm coats of all sizes.

For simple ideas that can be done in 15-20 minutes:

Fifth Tinsel Post: “Penny of Time” for the Holidays–Ideas to Help Motivate Kids to Serve

Fourth Tinsel Post: “Pennies of Time” for the Holidays– Our 2012 Family Holiday Service Project

Third Tinsel Post: “Pennies of Time” for the Holidays–Service Advent Calendar

Second Tinsel Post: “Pennies of Time” for the Holidays–Shopping