Season of Giving

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Hey friends, Maggie here. As you all know, we have a lot of fun here at Choctawk, but in the words of Larry the Cucumber, "There's a time to be silly...and there's a time to be serious." 

Christmas is my absolute favorite season, but not for the reasons you might think. Sure, binge watching Christmas movies, drinking hot chocolate, and decorating the tree are all huge perks to the holiday, but there is so much more to it. We are, after all, celebrating the birth of our savior Jesus Christ.

Many of us celebrate this fact by singing carols about Him, from "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" to "Silent Night." We put out nativity scenes and maybe some of us will read the birth story from the gospel, but it rarely goes further than that. I think we get so caught up in the excitement and stress of Christmastime that we forget the most important fact about Jesus' time on earth. 

He came not only to speak to people, but to heal and provide -- to touch those nobody else would touch, to speak to the ones cast out of society, and to love everyone. As Americans especially, we have every distraction out there and every reason not to stop for a second and think about other people, but it's also our job as Christians to combat that and to show genuine love and care for others.

Opportunities to Give Back

No matter where you live, there are people desperate for help, help you're capable of giving them. Whether this is through volunteering somewhere, buying supplies and toys to give away, or collecting donations, the opportunities are endless. Giving back can be done on a local or even international level, and here are just a few ideas!

Operation Christmas Child

This is the organization that sends a shoebox of supplies and toys to children in need all around the world. Remember when you were a kid and you'd run down to the tree, antsy to dig into those piles and piles of pretty packages? Some of these kids have never even seen one, so this organization gives an extra meaningful experience to them. If you're looking for something more local, countless churches, schools, and other places hold similar drives that bless local families.

The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army is an organization that's proven to make a genuine difference in peoples' lives as they handle what's been given to them responsibly. There are many ways to help them; you can donate money, time volunteering and handing out food, or help in other areas. You could even become one of those people who stand outside of stores with the red kettle, jingling a bell and accepting money for The Salvation Army.

Feeding America: Food Banks

"Each day, hunger is experienced in every community across this country. in fact, our network feeds 46 million neighbors each year. Ending hunger in America depends on the volunteer work of literally millions of Americans who know that they can make a difference." You can do this by finding your local food banks and shelters and either donating food items or donating your time to prepare and serve the food to the homeless and destitute in your local area. If nothing else, you could start a food drive in your neighborhood, school, etc. All it takes is one person to set off a chain reaction and make a huge difference.

Nursing Homes and Hospitals

Both nursing homes and hospitals are full of lonely people who would love nothing more than a visitor bearing smiles and joy. Most nursing homes, especially, love to receive volunteers who come and spend time with the occupants, playing board games or listening to their stories. Music, also, is proven to be a trigger to the memory, be it in the form of old hymns or Christmas carols. This can be especially beneficial to patients suffering from dementia, so why not sing carols with them? There's no better way to spend an afternoon than in one of these places, cheering people up.

Give up a little, Get back a lot

 If you're worried about not having enough time, let's take a second to look at the big picture. For many people, Christmas break is about three weeks long, which translates to 504 hours total. Given those numbers, spending 2-6 hours volunteering or assembling boxes doesn't even begin to touch on your free time. Also, no matter how much time you spend giving back, peoples' lives will be changed by your actions and you never know who those people might go on to be.

Christmas is a magical time of year, a time of giving and of showing love and kindness just as our Creator shows us daily. What better way is there to show his love than by making others smile and doing what we can do bring joy and help to those who need it? Trust me when I say you will never regret those hours spent doing things to help other people, and nothing warms your heart more during this beautiful season. 

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
— Romans 12:9-13

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