Good Morning everyone! I don’t know about you, but I am already in the Christmas spirit! Listening to Christmas music, watching Christmas movies, and planning out my Christmas baking – not to mention that I’m more than halfway done with Christmas shopping! I know, some of you have me beat and have been in the Christmas spirit for months now (my mom and niece can watch Christmas movies and listen to Christmas music ALL YEAR!) and some of you think I’m crazy to be this ready for Christmas so early.
Christmas is my favorite holiday of the year so I try to enjoy the spirit of it for as long as possible. My tree will go up the weekend after Thanksgiving (if I wait that long) and I’ll decorate the house. Christmas to me is about family – enjoying time together and showing how much you love one another. That’s why I feel it is so important to strive to help others even more during the Christmas season.
There are many ways that I try to help others around the holidays: donating more food to our church food pantry, making Christmas shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child, and of course sponsoring a family for Christmas.
I first learned about sponsoring a family for Christmas back in 2000 when I was working as a nurse in a Pediatric practice. One of my fellow nurses learned about a local radio station who had a list of families who were in need of support in order to give their children a Christmas. We all decided to chip in and donate money and select a family to support – nurses, office staff and even several doctors donated money towards supporting the family.
I and another nurse handled the logistics: getting the information about the family from the radio station, purchasing the gifts and meal, and delivering everything. Not only did we have fun shopping for the family, but we were so blessed when we delivered the gifts and food to the family on Christmas Eve and saw the joy in those children’s eyes and the thankfulness of their father and grandmother! It was one of the most rewarding moments in my life!
I’ve sponsored many families over the years and I thought that I should share my knowledge of the process so that you could take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to bless your family as well as a family in need this Christmas.
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Finding a Family to Support:
There are many locations where you can find a family to sponsor. Here are some places to look:
- Check with your local Salvation Army
- Check with your local police department
- Check with your local hospital
- Check with your local Child & Family Services/DHS office
- Check with your local radio stations
- Check with your local churches
- Ask friends and family if they know of a family in need
- Go to Soldier’s Angels website
- Go to Christmas Family Adoption website
- Go to Toys of Hope website
- Go to Volunteers of America website
- Go to Heartland Alliance website
- Go to Operation Where Are Web website
- Go to Christmas Programs for Military Families in Need website
Review their Information-
Once you have found a family to sponsor you should review their information, which should include: the number of members in the family with their ages and genders, wish list of gifts for the children, clothing sizes, and any allergies to food.
Plan the Purchases-
It is very easy to go overboard once you get into the shopping state of mind, so plan out exactly what food and gifts you will purchase with the money you either collected or have set aside for sponsoring the family.
Purchasing the Food-
The first year I sponsored a family, we went to a local restaurant and purchased a full Christmas dinner of turkey, all of the side dishes, rolls, and a pie. We picked the meal up right before we delivered everything to the family so it was hot and they could enjoy it right away. Now when we sponsor a family, I try to instead purchase groceries for the family to be able to make dinner and breakfast, and I try to have enough so that the family will have some leftovers or be able to make a few meals. Here are some ideas of what groceries to buy:
- Turkey or ham
- Mashed potatoes
- Macaroni and cheese
- Sweet potatoes
- Corn, green beans, or other vegetables
- Dinner rolls or crescent rolls
- Cranberry sauce
- Fresh fruit
- Pancake mix
- Sausage, bacon, or Canadian bacon
- Juice or soda
When I buy the groceries, I try to purchase items that are pre-made or easy to make in case the family does not have a stove that functions. Consider buying canned or frozen vegetables, pre-cooked ham that just gets heated up, a foil pan to be able to cook the turkey if you purchase a frozen one, bakery dinner rolls, jars of gravy, and pre-cooked bacon that just needs to be heated up. I also include staple items like milk, bread, and butter so the family can make sandwiches and have the leftovers for a few meals.
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This is always the fun part for me because I love to shop and I love to give gifts to people all year long and I find more joy in buying things for other people and giving them than in buying things for myself. It’s important to try to buy items that the family members can use as well as some fun gifts. Have you and your family make a Christmas list for the family so you can all brainstorm together and plan out what to buy. Here are some gift ideas to keep in mind:
- Winter gear like gloves, hats, scarves, boots, and coats
- Clothing for every day like jeans, pants, shirts, sneakers, socks, and underwear
- Games the family can play together
- Books that are age-appropriate for the children
- Toys that are age-appropriate for the children (try not to purchase items like toy guns or items that a parent may not want their child playing with)
- Batteries for any electronics
- Gift cards to grocery stores, gas stations, and stores like Walmart and Target where the family can purchase every day necessities
If the information you received about the family had a wish list of gifts, try to purchase a few from their list as well as items they need. Make sure you wrap the gifts and put a tag with their names on them before giving them so it feels like Christmas to the family. Try to avoid gifts like DVD’s or video games if you don’t know for a fact that the family has a TV, DVD player, or video game system.
Another great idea is to have your children choosing an item of their own like a toy or book to give to the children as this will teach your children about true giving and sacrifice. (Tip: just make sure the item being given is in good working order and like-new)
Delivering the Items-
Try to gather all of the items into shopping bags or boxes for easy transport. You will need to follow your organization’s instructions for delivering the items to the family as there may be a contact person at the organization or a drop off location. Even if you do not deliver the items directly to the family, you will know that they will have a wonderful Christmas together and you will be rewarded with joy and love for sacrificing for someone else.
I hope that this has inspired your family to sponsor a family for Christmas this year! You can even team up with a few other families to split the cost together and spread the joy. I’d love to hear your stories and ideas about sponsoring a family for Christmas so please comment below to share them with us. And don’t forget to share this post on your social media platforms so your friends and family can enjoy this opportunity to give to others this Christmas!
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