There are many, many ways to help the world and your community through nationally recognized charities, but if you want to do something a bit more local or something where your youth, children, or families participate directly with the people try one of these:
- Schools always know of students or families in need. Contact your local preschools or elementary schools to see if there are families or children for whom the church can buy gifts or provide some necessities. They don't need to tell you their names but it helps to know children's first names, ages, and/or gift suggestions.
- Visit local hospitals and donate a special gift to the children's wing of for those sick children who may not be going home over the holidays. Many times their families can provide individual gifts but sometimes they have large medical bills and cannot. Talk to the nurses and be sure to ask them for suggestions of appropriate gifts for sick children. Also, stick around to play with the kids!
- It's great to send gifts to other parts of the world or the country but sometimes we forget that there are people in need within our own congregations. The church office knows who they are and since they're within the congregation their identities should remain anonymous. While they have needs others may be able to provide, remember that nobody wants to be embarrassed in their own church.
Whenever you give to those in need it's important to teach kids to give humbly. We may give material goods but our attitude should always be that we are giving the love of Christ through those things and taking care of those having trouble taking care of themselves at the moment. Be careful how you pat people on the back for their service so that they don't give for the recognition of it. After all, there's no guarantee that any of us won't unexpectedly be in that position at any time.