As I mentioned in a previous post, one way to temper the desire to store up all sorts of worldly treasure is to give some of it away. This could be money, or canned goods, but it also could be time. Many youth groups do something very specific to help homeless people around Christmas time. I know for years our youth group had a dinner on Christmas Eve for homeless people in the community. Doing something for the homeless was eye opening for them because these people are in the community all year, and yet are largely unnoticed. We stopped that dinner a few years ago because we realized we needed to have a larger involvement with people all year. Having a dinner one time a year was nice, but it didn’t do anything to help them long term. It didn’t develop lasting relationships with these people and maybe even enabled them to continue. So, what do we do then? Well, I am constantly looking for ways to get our youth serving together. One way we do this is by being involved with the local senior center all year. This has given us a relational context with these people and has developed into far more than what it was to start. We also look for people who physically cannot do a task at home and we off to do those things for them at no cost. (i.e. yard work, household tasks) I remember one of those was a lady who had cancer and couldn’t tend to her garden. For years she had taken meticulous care of her garden and had watched it become overgrown. So,for us to go in an weed it for her spoke more than any physical gift we could have given her.
Christmas is a time when this desire to serve gets amplified, as needs seem more obvious. This desire to help others should not stop when the Christmas tree comes down. There are still many charities that have more needs than they can handle all year, not just in December. As I have been thinking about this more for our youth group going forward, I read this list of 40 different local charities. This list is a sample of the tremendous work that many local organizations are doing to meet needs in their communities. This is inspiring for those of us in youth ministry because it provides an “out of the box” look at what we might do to help year round. I link to it here for a complete picture of how we can make a difference all year long.
Read the complete post — Becoming Minimalist – Remember Those Who are Truly Need a Holiday Gift