I have discovered some ideas to brighten the holidays for someone, whether near or far. One idea we used to do is be a “Secret Santa”. If we knew of someone who had a rough year we would send them a poinsettia or other Christmas arrangement. The card would always say from Santa Claus. I’ve also heard of people sending someone a gift card, or giving their pastor several gift cards to be distributed at their discretion. If you can, try to do it anonymously. That way you get maximum joy.
I think one thing new I will do for this Christmas is make a donation to Swords to Plowshares Northeast (https://www.s2pnortheast.org/) See https://everytimewaysblog.com/2022/09/24/this-might-be-a-good-time-to-wear-orange/. My husband was lucky enough to see the Reverend James Curry, co-founder of Swords to Plowshares Northeast do a demonstration of transforming a gun into a garden tool. I hope and pray that at least one life will be spared by the gun transformation. I can’t wait! I will carry the joy of this in my heart.
There are some wonderful agencies like Heifer and World Vision that give the families a hand up, lifting them out of poverty. So, even though these involve sending cold, hard cash, that is what can be transformed into what these people really need. If you would like to have a hands-on contribution, try putting together toiletry kits. Most shelters and food banks go through thousands of small toiletry kits each year. Bags with toothpaste, toothbrushes, dental floss, deodorant, mouthwash, combs and brushes are a big help to the recipients. If you can knit, crochet or sew, soap sacks with soap will be greatly appreciated. And what about the children? One year I ordered multi-colored gift bags from Oriental Trading and filled them with small toys, books, stickers, crayons and activity books and dropped them off at a local shelter. I also did it at Easter, because I thought that people remember Christmas, but sometimes Easter is forgotten.
Also, if you like crafts and crafty stuff, take a look at a wonderful organization based out of Harrisburg PA called Caitlin’s Smiles (https://www.caitlins-smiles.org/) . Caitlin’s Smiles is a volunteer-driven organization that puts together arts and crafts activities for hospitalized children in order to make their hospital stay less stressful. The kits are distributed throughout Pennsylvania and surrounding areas. If you go on their website, you can find lots of wonderful ideas.
And you know what else I recommend for spreading Holiday cheer? Christmas caroling! Our neighborhood used to go Christmas caroling every year and then stop off at one of our houses for hot chocolate and cookies. Just knowing that you are giving someone an unexpected dose of Christmas joy that is priceless.
May the joy you give be returned to you a thousandfold.
Giving opens the way for receiving.
— Florence Scovel Shinn, artist