On File

Be the gift

There is something sweet, thoughtful, and treasured about receiving a Christmas gift. In addition to its beautiful wrapping and presentation is the idea that I’m receiving something special—from a special someone.

Now, the gift may not always be the the most useful, but sometimes the idea that someone took the time to think of me means more than the gift itself.

I’ve been thinking a great deal about being a gift to others. I thought, if it’s the emotion that I cherish about receiving a gift, then how would I feel to actually be the present myself—by giving my time, my energy, and my effort to someone?

I stretched this idea one step further and wondered, how can my family be the gift with me?

I came up with the following partnership ideas:

Samaritan’s Purse—Operation Christmas Child is a thoughtful way to get the family involved in putting a shoebox of goodies together for a child overseas. The mission of Samaritan’s Purse is based on the parable Jesus shared about the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25–37. Then He said, “Go and do likewise.” This organization uses that example to “help those in need and proclaim the hope of the Gospel.” The website has simple step-by-step instructions on how to pray, prepare, fill, and send the box. Between November 13–20, boxes can be dropped off at designated locations. Otherwise, they can be mailed to Samaritan’s Purse headquarters. The recipient’s gender and age group can also be specified. An additional nine–dollar donation allows tracking of the package. This is a wonderful opportunity to involve children in giving to other children. To participate, go to: www.Samaritanspurse.org.

Veterans Affairs (VA) Check with the VA in your community for opportunities to volunteer with veterans. Even within neighborhoods, there are many opportunities to be a gift. For details on how you can help, go to www.volunteer.va.gov

Operation Gratitude is a non profit organization that provides care packages to veterans, first responders, new recruits, wounded heroes and their caregivers, and to deployed service members. There are various ways to give a “Gift of Gratitude.” The organization has instructions on how to create a package and send it to their headquarters along with a handwritten note of support. They even encourage knitters to consider making and sending scarves to people who truly need them. To learn more, go to: www.operationgratitude.com.

What’s your plan?

This Christmas season, bring your family together and come up with a plan to be the gift. Let the ideas and suggestions flow from everyone. Here are just a few.

• Sort and wrap gifts at your local corps or shelter.
• Volunteer as a family to stand at a Christmas kettle for an hour.
• Ask your corps officers about other ways you can help.

Pray about your plans and know that you will help someone in a beautiful and positive way. It’s a chance to reflect on others and show appreciation for people around us. Being the gift will bring great joy, provide relief when extra hands are needed, encourage others to be a gift, and truly brighten someone’s day.

by Joanna Polarek

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