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"Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the stresses of making Christmas as magical as we can for our own children that we forget how lucky we are. When you think about all the children that won't have the same experience, it is impossible for me to not do something about it." - Courtney Check
A few weeks ago, my friend Courtney asked several friends if they would join her in supporting a family-in-need for Christmas. “Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the stresses of making Christmas as magical as we can for our own children that we forget how lucky we are. When you step back and think about all the children that won't have the same experience, it is impossible for me to not do something about it,” she said.
Interested in organizing something similar? Read on to hear how Courtney got it done:
Courtney’s friend, Jenn, works at a local elementary school that has a low-income population. Jenn knew of hundreds of families that could use help putting gifts under the tree, not to mention getting basic winter clothes. The school works with local charitable organizations to confirm which families are already receiving donations and then coordinates the family assignments with volunteers. The school provided Jenn with the names of 5 children as well as their age and gender. She did some additional detective work (e.g. covertly checking the size on their coats) to find out the children’s sizes, interests and whether there were any younger children at home, too.
Armed with this information, Courtney sent her friends the plan-of-attack. Everyone was was assigned a child or two, and could shop for the necessary items or contribute money to the gifts. She created a spreadsheet in Google Docs that listed each child’s needs, ranging from winter boots to princess toys. This shared spreadsheet allows all the shoppers to see and update in real-time what needs to be purchased.
She set a deadline for everyone to drop off the wrapped items at her home before delivering to school before the Holiday Break.
If you don’t have a contact at a school, try calling or emailing a local family shelter, foster care group or church to see if they would like your support. Then, you can tackle the wishlist alone, or enlist your family, colleagues or friends. Alternatively, you may wish to contribute to a Toys-for-Tots or Angel Tree collection at a nearby business. I’ve seen collection boxes at the gym, library, and fire station, to name a few. Happy holidays and happy giving!
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