How to give to “the least of these” this Christmas. A guide to creating stocking stuffers for kids in need.
December is a flurry of giving and receiving. It feels good to have that balance. To give gifts and receive thanks. To get gifts back in return.
But Sunday’s readings challenge us to do more. They might even make us a tad uncomfortable.
Whatever we do to the least of God’s people, we do to Him. And whatever we don’t do for the least of these, we didn’t do for Him. (see Matt 25: 40, 45)
But the least of these often can’t give back. We don’t get much out of it as an immediate reward. Maybe our giving would be anonymous, and they won’t even be able to say thanks.
When you give, don’t let your right hand know what your left is doing. (see Matt 6: 3)
By giving anonymously, to those who can’t return thanks, you’ll gain a heavenly reward.
But we find all the excuses. It’s hard to find a worthy charity. Money is tight. We already give to our Church on Sunday. How much does God want?
All of it. He wants our whole heart. Everything we have came from Him. Everything we are is a gift from Him. Belongs to Him. And He wants us to give it all back. To practice good stewardship. Not to cling to our material goods, but to prudently and generously share them with others.
Open your heart to Sunday’s readings, and to the spirit of charity introduced by the recent “Giving Tuesday.” Find a way to give back.
Today I want to share two charitable giving ideas. The one is the common, monetary giving: find a worthy cause and donate to it.
The other is a little less traditional, but also more fun. And it gets your whole community involved. Let’s talk about that one first.
Christmas Stockings for Kids in Need
Our family doesn’t do big gifting. But we always stuff stockings for our kids to open on Christmas morning. Their eyes light up in the glow of twinkling lights as they bury their arms deep in the knitted wool sock to dig out their special treasures. My heart soars at the delight they express for simple treats: a pack of stickers, a chocolate coin.
Last year, I started thinking about the less fortunate kids on Christmas morning. The houses where Santa can’t afford to come and deliver Christmas cheer. And I was moved to do something for them.
Together with my local moms’ group, we assembled and donated 40 super-stuffed stockings for kids who would otherwise have had no Christmas presents.
And you can do this too in your own community. It may sound intimidating, and I definitely get nervous about pulling this off each year. But ultimately, you just have to put your trust in God. He will provide.
Let me tell you how it’s done.
1. Find a charity
The first year we did this, it took a couple phone calls to find an organization that wanted our donations. Our local parishes had their charity projects organized. They had coat and toy drives galore.
But a nearby soup kitchen was more than enthusiastic about it. Every Christmas Eve, they have Santa visit and give gifts to kids in need. I said, “Would you like 20 stockings?” They countered, “How about 40?” Well, my eyes got wide, but I agreed we’d try our best. Last year, we assembled the 40 stockings with no problem. This year we asked for 50, and we’re going for it!
2. Ask for guidelines
Every organization has different rules and regulations. Besides asking how many stockings they’ll need, remember to ask for donation rules.
The soup kitchen we partnered with was happy to accept almost anything we were willing to give. But they did have a few guidelines:
- nothing sharp or dangerous
- all food must be sealed
- all personal care items must be sealed and individually wrapped.
Be sure to ask for this info, write it down, and state it clearly when requesting donations.
3. Set a date and invite people.
I usually pick a date based on the availability of or two families that I’m close to, who I know are interested in participating. Then I don’t worry about catering to everybody’s schedules. If they can come, they will. If they can’t make it, they’re often willing to meet up or drop stuff off to donate. Try not to make yourself crazy picking a date that works for everybody.
Pick a location where you have enough room to put the stockings together, and a place for kids to play. At your event, you’ll just stuff the stockings. You’ll drop them off later to your charity organization.
Ideas of people you can invite:
- your friends
- your local moms’ group
- your child’s play group
- co-op or classmates
- a parish or prayer group.
Ideas of how to invite:
- create a Facebook event
- announce it on your Facebook page
- make a flyer
- put an announcement in your parish bulletin
- good old phone call or text.
Ideas of where to host:
- your home or a friend’s home
- a parish hall
- co-op or school classroom
- a local playground with pavilion (if you live somewhere warm)
I always start off with my playdates group. I make a private event on Facebook for organizing. Then I create a flyer to share with others (remember to list the rules and guidelines for donations).
I also post on Facebook, so those who don’t live locally can still choose to donate. I’ve had generous Facebook friends and acquaintances send me packages in the mail. God provides!
4. Have a party and get stuffing!
I always tell our guests to bring whatever they can, because every little bit counts. Some people want to bring 50 of a certain thing: one for each stocking. Others may bring a box of granola bars or a few packs of stickers. This is a great giving opportunity for families with small budgets. Even a contribution as small as a box of hot chocolate or candy canes is welcome and helpful.
Some people love to browse the dollar store for cheap and easy inspiration. Others place bulk orders on Amazon or Oriental Trading. Every year, we even have a few people make homemade items to contribute, such as hats, scarves and socks.
The beautiful thing about this project is guests can spend as much or as little money as they can afford. But in the end, it all comes together to be something amazing.
Ask for what you need, and trust God to provide. Also be open to letting guests be creative, and let the Holy Spirit inspire!
Some ideas for stocking stuffers:
- fun stuff: crayons, stickers, small toys/novelties
- treats: Christmas themed candies, hot chocolate packs
- practical: toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss, mittens, chapstick
Each year, as the organizer, I provide the stockings (don’t forget that part). Every time we do donations like this, I’m always impressed at the generosity of those who donate, and they amazing ways they contribute to making our donation a smashing success.
This year, I want to thank a few virtual friends who sent donations in the mail. (These contributors gave out of the kindness of their hearts, with no expectation of recognition.) I want to mention their donations, to encourage you to reach out and ask! Don’t be afraid to make a public post, or send a message to your favorite creator or artisan. Give the invitation, and let God speak inspiration to their hearts.
Ezara of Lularoe Ezara Bergstrom
I know Ezara through our high school’s Big Sister – Little Sister program. We lost touch for years, but recently reconnected through Facebook. when Ezara saw my post asking for donations for the stockings, she lost no time doing what she could to help out!
She placed an order online and had these adorable Faith-themed mini candy canes and buildable sticker sets delivered right to my door.
Michelle of Give Him 5
I know Michelle through Catholic Social Media Influencers. We’ve never met in real life, but Michelle and I have formed a friendship over our blogs and businesses. I was so thrilled when she generously offered to send a whole box full of her lovely Give Him 5 Prayer Bags! The bags are so beautiful and inspiring. I think it’s a great way to spread the Faith, and bring a little joy into these kids’ lives.
Both of these lovely ladies donated without any hope for recognition or repayment. But I’d be grateful if you stop by their Facebook pages and give them some love!
5. Drop off your donations
The final step: drop them off!
I can guarantee the staff at your local charity will be amazed and super thankful for your donation.
But more importantly, your reward will be great in Heaven. Let your heart rejoice at the blessing of being able to give to those in need.
This project may sound daunting, but I promise, it’s very doable. Especially if you find a friend who thrives on organization to partner up on planning!
If you want to get started, and have more questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me by email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or by sending me a message on Facebook.
We may not all be able to do big things. But together, we can combine our small efforts to do something wonderful for Christ in our neighbor.
Great Charities to Donate to
If you prefer more traditional monetary giving, I have some great recommendations of trustworthy charitable causes to donate to.
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