“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7
Most years, life around my house during the holidays is focused on buying presents, travel plans to visit
family, and preparing holiday meals. It is fun, but I find it to be an exhausting, often stressful time.
To top it off, my husband and two daughters have birthdays during the holiday months as well. All
of this makes life busy when I just want to relax and enjoy our time together. I have a deep-rooted
desire to make a difference in someone’s life, and the current way of doing holidays isn’t always fulfilling.
This year, I am presenting an old idea wrapped in a new package to my family to relieve stress and take pressure
off of would-be shoppers. It’s called a Christmas Tithe, and it has been around for ages. In the past, you would
choose a charity and give a donation in a family member’s name. It’s that easy.
This year, I want to make it more personal by seeking out the charity of my family’s choice and take a collection to make a more substantial donation … in lieu of any major gifts given to each other. It requires a consensus of many who truly look forward to giving gifts every year (especially my mother who reverts to her childhood at Christmas, bless her heart).
Oh, the young nieces and nephews may not receive that little something that they have been yearning for, but they will be involved in an act of selflessness that they will remember for years to come. Making young children aware of the needs of others, then responding to that need is the premise for Lukes’ calling, “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” 1 Making a commitment to bless someone tangibly brings out feelings of responsibility to others in ways not often experienced by children.
It is said that our nation is experiencing a level of poverty that exceeds the Great Depression. I have read numerous reports that percentages of those living at or below $11,000 annually has grown to almost fifty percent of Americans. I don’t think the numbers are as important as responding to those living around you who need your help. Is taking a meal to your elderly neighbor going to change her economic status? I doubt it. However, the good feeling you and your family get from helping her and establishing a friendship is vital to the livelihood in your community. When children get involved, it definitely impacts their outlook on relationships and helping others because they won’t realize it’s a sacrifice in giving a portion of their food away. They only see the joy on a neighbor’s face, and they feel the warmth of helping out a new friend.
Poverty is defined as “the state of one who lacks a usual or socially acceptable amount of money or material possessions.” 2 I venture to say it could be any one of us who may be impoverished, and overcome by greed, gluttony, or self-absorption. This can be reversed!
Begin by talking to your neighbors and looking at children who go to school with your kids. Find someone who has a considerable need; then look for a way to fill that need. What if you found someone who needed that last $10 to pay a bill? Would you give that $10 to cover that person’s bill? You can if you select “Good Neighbor contribution” on your utility statement when you pay your bill. Another outlet is to contact your church about giving to the benevolence fund. Many churches provide ways to give directly toward specific needs within their congregation that goes beyond the operational budget.
Want to make a Large-Scale Impact
We have numerous organizations within the Hill Country who provide life skill training for youth, after-school care for children, or homes for the lowincome families or homeless. What about the animal welfare organizations, indigent medical care, legal advocacy for children and mentally handicapped adults, etc.? There is almost no end to the needs within the community.
I made a short list of local organizations that could use your help. Remember, there are manay others and I only selected those groups that I have regular interaction with throughout the year.
Baptist Child and Family Services (BCFS) is working on a $2 million capital campaign to build a multifunction Transition facility for youth who are battling to become self-sufficient. It will house five partners who serve youth aging out of the foster care system. The services they provide strengthen self-confidence, promote independent living and ultimately create communities with a lower rate of youth unemployment, crime, substance abuse and homelessness. BCFS has been in Kerrville since 2007, and they served more than 1,500 youth in 2012. The needs include job training and placement, counseling for life skills, and an education to earn GED or high school diploma. Monetary contributions will go toward meeting their goal, which is more than 60% complete at this printing. Volunteering opportunities are also available. Contact Kathleen Maxwell at 830-896-0993 or via email at Kathleen.maxwell@BCFS.net.
Habitat for Humanity Kerr County is “dedicated to providing decent affordable homes to Kerr County lowincome individuals and families and to the economic health of our local communities.” Habitat not only provides interest-free loans to working families, the mortgages collected are returned to Habitat to fund the next home. One way to help Habitat is to give monetarily. Charitable giving will help increase the number of homes they can build throughout the year. Another method of giving is to volunteer to serve on the construction crew or provide meals to the crews. These folks have well-organized leadership and they are making a huge impact on the Kerrville community. Habitat Kerr County has built 94 homes to date, and they recently had a Habitat home donated back to them when the family was financially able to purchase a new home elsewhere in Kerrville. That’s powerful. Contact the office at 830-792-4844 for more information.
Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) is another national organization with a local presence. Though their branding may not be as recognizable as some groups, the impact they make with youth is priceless. Adult volunteers, or “Bigs”, (with background screening, of course) are matched with children “Littles” in need of a mentor and friend. They provide professional support for one-on-one mentoring relationships. The great thing about BBBS is that you can stay with your Little throughout their school career. Though monetary donations are appreciated, personal volunteers are their greatest need. By participating in BBBS programs, children and youth are 1) 46% less likely to begin using illegal drugs, 2) 27% less likely to begin using alcohol, and 3) 52% less likely to skip school. Numbers aside, you are investing in the next generation of business people, teachers and leaders when you give of yourself. Call Debra Parmley at 830-257-2477 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Arms of Hope is a Christian non-profit focused on assisting and extending a loving hand to some of the most disadvantaged children and single-mother families in our culture. They provide life skills, shelter and necessities to change lives in crisis. They provide residential care in a warm, family-like atmosphere with house parents in each home. Arms of Hope also provides life skill training and preparation for employment for high school graduates of their program. Single-mothers are given a safe place to live and raise children with assistance in numerous ways. There are many needs this agency has to fulfill, whether it is clothing, medical care or counseling. Contact them through their website at ArmsOfHope.org, or by calling 830-522-2200.
Won’t you join me in helping out where you can? Will you make the choice to take action and get involved in a personal way? Merry Christmas! May the warmth and cheer of the season be yours to give away to others this year.
1 Acts 20:35