I, along with several of my fellow Haiti-missionaries, recently shared an article on Facebook about rethinking Operation Christmas Child, and it created quite the conversation. (The article can be found here.)
Many people were upset by the article, some saying it was just wrong and others saying it was a liberal agenda (although it was published by Baptist News). And while I wanted to shout “just because you don’t like it, doesn’t make it untrue”, I thought better of adding fuel to the fire.
But one friend of mine asked a great question that I thought was worth sharing! She asked if I had alternative ideas. I do. Here are a few:
ALTERNATIVE IDEAS TO HELP DURING THE HOLIDAYS THAT AREN’T OPERATION CHRISTMAS CHILD
- Christmas bake sales and other fundraisers can be great ways to raise money for things like ….
- school sponsorships (our non-profit and many others offer this opportunity)
- cow/pig/goat or other income-producing animal (KORE, Heifer International, etc.)
- you can donate a Family Farm Pack through Harvest107 (shameless plug #2) to help women grow their own food
- team up with your local Baptist or Methodist children’s home to get the kids’ gifts … many won’t allow visitors (which is best) but those kids are often forgotten during the holidays
- your group/church can host an Angel Tree to purchase gifts for children in need through Salvation Army
- team up with your local homeless/women’s shelter to provide Christmas Eve/Christmas dinner
Our family does something we call the Christmas JOY Breakfast when we are in the US. We started it when Clover was about 2 or 3 (2010/2011?) … there are probably plenty of ways you could do this, but here’s how our family does it:
We collect donations of the following: socks, blankets, gloves, hats, wet wipes, deodorant, toothbrushes, pocket size combs/brushes, feminine products, pocket size tissues packs, PowerAde, reusable grocery sacks and cosmetic bags. We spend an evening stuffing bags – cosmetic bags for women and men with the personal care items, reusable sacks with blankets, and warmth items, adding a cosmetic bag to each sack.
On Christmas morning, we cook up sausage & egg biscuits and wrap them up. We pour ourselves coffee and hot chocolate and head out into the homeless communities that didn’t get into a shelter the night before. We spend the morning in the park usually, passing out bags and breakfasts while enjoying our time together as a family and with our new friends. We have gotten to meet some pretty interesting people and heard some stories.
No is allowed to even speak of Christmas presents before we do the JOY breakfast. After the last bag is given, and the last goodbye is said, we head back to have our own breakfast and continue to celebrate Christmas. One of the the greatest things about spending our Christmas morning like this that our kids have grown up knowing that hard times can fall on anyone, anytime. They have learned there are names and stories with each face and not to be afraid of people who are different.
I don’t share this to brag about our family, but to encourage others to spend their Christmas morning like this at least once. It is a great reminder of what Christmas is truly about.