Each year, our youth used to get together for an annual Christmas party. There would be games and activities, food, and of course: a gift exchange using the “white elephant” format where you can either pick presents from the middle or steal someone else’s gift. The exchange was always a lot of fun, but the gifts slowly devolved into gift cards and snack products. It’s hard to give good gifts when you don’t know who will end up with the gift. It all made perfect sense.
Many years ago now, we decided to shake things up. You might say we “turned Christmas upside-down.” Rather than spend $10 swapping gift cards with each other, what if we could put that money to work helping others instead? A new tradition was born: Bring some money to donate to worthy causes, then decide collectively where to give the money. We were overwhelmed with the generosity of the youth! And not only were they generous in their giving, but they were also excited to be helping others!
This year, youth donated $199 to help others. They had an opportunity to vote where to send the money. Here’s where it ended up:
Kiva is a micro-finance organization that helps others around the world. You add money to your account and loan it out to others in small increments, usually $25. People then use this money to start a business to provide for themselves and pay you back. You can then re-invest that money into other opportunities. You can read more about the program here. One of the exciting things about this is we have an opportunity to continue helping others as the money gets repaid!
Feed My Starving Children ($94)
Feed My Starving Children provides food for malnourished children around the world for only 22 cents/meal. Churches and other organizations can also host an event where you raise the money needed to pack the meals, then gather to do the packing. Our donation will provide 427 meals.
Buffalo Snow Relief ($40)
Because the November snowstorm happened so close to our party, we were excited to be helping out a local cause as well. The money is being donated to Lutheran Charities here in Western New York that are helping people recover from the snowstorm.
Among other games and activities, students also had a chance to write Christmas cards to members of the military, pray for people in need in their lives, and give to others more directly connected to them. In one of our stations they packed a mason jar with all the ingredients necessary to make Chocolate Chip cookies. Once completed and decorated, they picked a family in their neighborhood they could bless with jar of mix (or some yummy homemade cookies.)
We are thankful for the example the youth set before us as we look to Give More this Advent Conspiracy!
Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12