Every year there are children all throughout the world who wake up Christmas morning hoping to have something special waiting for them. And every year, there are children who are left disappointed. My husband and I talk a lot about the different ways that we can use our blessings in order to serve and help others. This time of year and year-round. Over the last couple of years, he and I have been trying to cut back on the number of gifts we give to one another. I mean, we don’t really need much, so its become more about the act of giving something to one another rather than out of a need for anything in particular. Also, we really want our son viewing Christmas as an opportunity to be charitable to others. So we started looking into the various charities for Christmas out there.
Toys for Tots
Toys for Tots is one of the best-known charities for Christmas out there, and for good reason. The program is headed by the U.S. Marines and offers several different ways to donate. People wishing to make a donation can purchase toys for their toy drive and/or submit a monetary donation. If you elect to purchase a toy for donation, all toys must be new and unwrapped when you donate. Organizations can also offer to collect for their toy drive, which my company does every year.
Operation Christmas Child
Operation Christmas Child is a Christian organization which facilitates getting shoeboxes filled with gifts, school supplies like books, and hygiene items to children internationally. You can either fill a shoebox with these items that you purchase yourself or you can donate $25 and “build a shoebox” online. The program’s website also provides you with a helpful list of gift suggestions based on various age ranges for children. This may be the perfect option for a family activity! Each member can pick out a gender/age-range for a child and fill shoebox!
One Simple Wish
One Simple Wish’s website is very easy to use and it doesn’t solely focus on being one of the charities for Christmas, but is available throughout the year. The program collects wishes from children and posts all of the wishes on the website, so you don’t have to sign up before you can see what people are hoping for. The site gives you the opportunity to narrow your search in a number of ways. Some of these ways include searching by gender, age, dollar amount, urgency, whether the child is up for adoption, and more.
Each wish is posted with general information such as “New Shoes For Michael Who Likes to Look Fresh.” The wishes contain a “Learn More” section. In this section you can learn a little bit more about the child whose wish you’re looking at. It also identifies if the wish is time sensitive; as the site contains wishes for children year around, so birthdays and other events are taken into consideration.
Operation Christmas Spirit
Operation Christmas Spirit is a one of the charities for Christmas run by Operation Help a Hero. The program supports military families in need by supplying them everything from money for groceries to presents for the family. They give you several ways to help, such as by donating financially or by adopting a family and fulfilling a list of their wishes and needs. You will not have direct contact with the family; you will purchase and provide all of the items for the adopted family to a volunteer with Operation Christmas Spirit. That volunteer will then coordinate directly with the family.
These families have to be within specific “hubs” and the organization does not take special requests to find a family outside of their pre-determined hub (such as your own town/city).
USPS’ Operation Santa
Every year, countless children drop their letters in the mailbox addressed to Santa. The United States Postal Service sets aside some of these letters for responses to (and fulfillment) by “elves.” If you sign up through the USPS’ Operation Santa, you’ll need to verified (a process you can find out more about on their site). Once you’ve been verified, you’ll be able to adopt a letter (or a family of letters). The expectation is that you will fulfill one or more of the gifts and respond as Santa (of course)! How special is it that the USPS uses the fact that children everywhere to drop their letter to Santa through the regular mail? And how special is it that they use people like you and I to help keep that spirit alive as one of the charities for Christmas we can contribute to as well?!
Salvation Army’s Angel Tree
All throughout the country, the Salvation Army offers their Angel Tree program during the holiday season. This is one of the better known charities for Christmas. It allows you and your family (or larger groups) to adopt a family for the holidays. Once you sign up through the website, you’ll be contacted by someone associated with the program. This person will help facilitate you getting the information necessary regarding your adopted family.
The link here provides access to the Salvation Army’s “Brighten the Holiday” portion of their website. There is a place at the top to search for your zip code to get onto your local Salvation Army page. Alternatively, you can Google “Angel Tree” along with your city and/or state. The search results should bring you to the page to find information regarding your local Angel Tree options.
Didn’t Find the One For You?
If none of these charities for Christmas work for you and your family, there are a lot of local charitable organizations out there! You could search the internet for the name of your local hospital, search “foster care agencies in” your city, or check out the needs of the local animal shelters, coat drives, and food drives. Some places will have a published list of needs, Amazon wishlists, or the ability to adopt a child’s wishlist.