I’ve suggested these types of charities based on their association to the Nativity story; it will help focus the families minds on why we celebrate along with the others outlined in the 20 Ways to Keep Christ in Christmas post.
1 Charities that help the persecuted
Christians are the most persecuted faith in the world globally, and charitable giving in this area reflects the fact that Jesus told us that we should expect this. In the West we are used to being able to practice our faith in peace. Yet this has not always been the case, and may not always be so.
It is also important to remember that at the time that Jesus was born Israel was oppressed by secular authorities and that Mary, along with the rest of Israel, prayed for deliverance. God’s response was to send His Son. As disciples we should be His response too.
This care must also extend to others who are persecuted, as Jesus’ mission came to encompass Gentile as well as Jew.
2 Charities that help the homeless
This, of course, mimics the desperate journey Mary and Joseph took to find shelter for the night. If you choose this type of charity as a focus you can keep it in your thoughts as you enact the custom of Pasada that I described briefly in the 20 Ways to Keep Christ in Christmas Post. I will be posting a more detailed explanation fo this tradition and how you can enact it in your home, so keep a look out for that.
I haven’t included a link here, as I think this best thing to do is talk with your local parish priest and find out what is being done by the Church in your local area. The closer these lessons are to home, the more our children will learn.
3 Charities that feed the hungry
Again, I’m not giving a link as I think it’s best to get in touch with a local food bank. We have one just across our little village square, but wherever yours is, the more local the better.
The reason why I encourage locality is that as this activity is linked to children and their Advent preparation; so it’s good to find ways to help them realise that those in need truly are our neighbours.
It’s easy to think of the poor being a long way off, but that’s not the case. I’m a big believer in the fact that our Amazon delivery (guilty of this), supermarket (guilty of this one too), advert soaked world creates an environment of consumerism. Consumerism always means that we value goods before people.
If we, along with our children, come face to face with the people who’s livelihoods are being destroyed by capitalism we will be more careful how we spend our money. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an anti-capatilist. However I am pro person and I know personally that I don’t always appreciate the value of something when I concentrate on getting it for the cheapest deal.
Wha brought this home to me is my love of DIY. When you do things yourself you appreciate the skill of the professional, so you value their craft and ultimately them.
That’s lots of thoughts in one post, so lets move on to the next one…
4 Visit the lonely
Notice this isn’t a charity one, it’s just a ‘do’. Are there people near you who are locked in? Find it difficult to get out and about? This advent can be about simply spending time with them.
Connecting it with the Childrens Advent Challenge; perhaps the chore money your children earn can be spent on buying a little something to take a long to a neighbour? Then sit with them, even for ten minutes or so and make sure they’re ok. Make a commitment to doing this once a week so the build up to Christmas, and hopefully Christmas itself, won’t be as lonely.
5 Help others to help the debt ridden
The Childrens Advent Challenge inevitably teaches your children to budget; but not everyone in our society has learnt to do so successfully. Also we seem to live in a time of easily obtained finance, that looks like freedom but is inevitably a burden.
For older children, who may not need to see immediately the affects of their chosen charity, this is a wonderful one to choose. It’s Christians Against Poverty, and I can personally attest to the affect that they make in people lives. They do Holy work.
6 Gifts to needy children
Obviously gifts – I don’t think I need to say anything more in the why part of including this.
Does your church have such an endeavour running this year? If not there will be some advertised in your country/area – I haven’t included actual links because, like the food banks and homelessness, it may teach your children more to go local.
7 Clothing to the needy
We’ve spoken of shelter, food and gifts, but in including clothing I’m thinking of the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes. Did Joseph and Mary not have clothing to give Him, or was this just the tradition of the time?
In any case I can imagine Mary and Joseph struggling to find clothing for the Babe as they fled to Egypt; can’t you? I have no doubt that they gratefully accepted the charity of others without greed and in humility.
We have local clothing banks near us and there’s also a section in the food bank. Connect with your church and see what they have on offer. If you’re feeling brave how about organising a baby clothes donation box at the Parish for people to leave clothes to help women in crises pregnancies? Which leads me to the next point…
8 Crisis pregnancy centres
Mary didn’t have a crisis pregnancy, she followed the will of God prior to Jesus’ conception and ascented to hers. However, it certainly caused a crises amongst those around her – a crises of gossip, danger, disbelief. You name it, she dealt with it.
In her heart Mary knew the Truth and bore all this in humility. Yet there are many more women out there dealing with a crisis pregnancy who haven’t got that certainty and are afraid.
Donating to one with your family doesn’t have to have a conversation that involves the dreaded ‘A’ word either; just tell your little ones that having a baby is a big commitment and that sometimes women are left on their own and are afraid. Fear may come for other reasons too.
As your children get older this can be a way to start to talk about the responsibilities inherent in loving relationships too.
Life is a UK wide centre, but there will be some near home, so again, consider going local.
9 Bringing the Word of God
This can be in the form of a Bible donation charity, or giving a donation to a missionary group such as Verbum Dei. This is a wonderful organisation of consecrated missionaries that work to teach people how to help people pray with the Word. As this holiday is about the Word made flesh it seems completely appropriate, no?
10 Aid to refugees
I’ve already spoken about how Mary and Joseph’s desperate attempts to find a room inspired the homeless charities inclusion; but how about those who are fleeing for safety as they did following Christ’s birth?
Cafod will take your contribution and aid refugees facing persecution throughout the world.
I’m so glad we’re taking this journey together. If you have any other charity ideas drop me a line in the comments below. In the meantime…