These days, Christmas is largely plugged as a commercial holiday that's all about excess. Kids want the best gifts and adults certainly don't mind a present or two, either. With all the pomp and circumstance surrounding the holidays, it can be easy to forget that it's not always a joyous time for everyone. Some people may be struggling financially, while others less fortunate don't have a home to put a Christmas tree in at all. Why not spread a little joy in your community this December and show your kids what it's all about? Here are a few ideas to help you on your way.
Keep a spare change jar throughout the year. It might be a little late for this year, but setting up a spare change jar could go a long way in 12 months. Encourage your family to add any loose change they've got laying around when they remember, and count it out and donate it to a local charity next Christmas. You might be surprised at how much you collect.
Make lunch for homeless people. The holidays can be a trying time for the homeless, who are usually out on the streets and estranged from their families at the coldest time of year. Gather your family around the stove and prepare some lunches for the local homeless community. You could help out at a shelter or make your own at home and personally deliver them to those in need. This is a great way to teach your children gratitude and kindness.
Visit a nursing home. Elderly people can get extremely lonely at Christmas time, especially if they're in a nursing home. While some people have families that take them home or visit them, others have nobody, and would appreciate a visit from well-wishers. Contact the local homes in your area and ask them if they have any activities planned, perhaps they would welcome a few suggestions - and a few volunteers to help residents get in the Christmas spirit.
Help an animal shelter. Even dogs need love at Christmas time! Staff at animal shelters often work tirelessly to provide for animals that have fallen by the weyside. From kitties to pups, if your kids are lovers of the four-legged variety, it could be a really great way to give back to the local community. After all, dogs are for life - not just for Christmas!
Bake some goods for the local emergency services. Firemen and policemen don't always have the luxury of getting time off over the holidays, especially as house fires tend to peak in the winter months due to dangerous Christmas lighting. They often do a thankless job by being on call 24/7, so why not whip up a few treats with the kids and bring them down there to show your appreciation?