Our family has lots of traditions around Christmas: eating my wife’s wonderful desserts, playing games, taking each of the boys out by myself for some father-son time. And, every year, we find ways to give to others. The boys each give a wrapped toy to a kids’ charity, and my wife and I talk together about how much we will give to organizations we care about. It’s something we do intentionally and want to teach our boys. That’s because giving back is important, whether you’re a millionaire or you’re still trying to get out of debt.
We polled my Retirement Challenge Facebook group and asked them how others have given to them and how they’ve given, especially at Christmastime. The responses they gave were awesome! Here are a few.
- Each year at Christmas, my husband and I give our children a small token gift to represent a donation we make to a charity. One year, they all got cozy throws when my husband and I donated wool blankets to families in poverty. Last year, we financed a sanitary public toilet for a village in Asia and gave our children bathroom accessories. It has become a tradition, and now they try to guess our donation based on the gift they receive. — Missy C.
- Each year we select a family in need who won’t have a Christmas. We make sure each member of the family has at least five gifts to open. Last year, the mother didn’t want any gifts and asked that we give them to the children, so we treated her to a spa day and provided day care for the children. She was so excited and thankful. She felt as if her self-esteem had been restored. — Karen L.
- Several years ago, I had the privilege of paying private school tuition for a young woman whose parents couldn’t due to a job loss. She was a troubled teen, and I knew she wouldn’t do well in public school. She is now in college and the parents have recovered financially. — Mary M.
- I send some care packages to deployed military personnel that my household remains in contact with. — Caroline K.
- A couple years back, we helped a single mom catch up on her electric bill. It was around Christmas, so we followed up with a bag of Christmas presents for her son. That was pretty awesome. We really enjoyed being able to give like that. — Ammon P.
- We, along with several other families, help support two teenage brothers who are homeless. I haven’t been homeless, but I know it would not have taken much to put my daughter and I there. — Lari G.
- Recently my husband and I had a friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer. She is now going through chemo. We donated money so someone else could clean her house while she is going through treatments and resting. — Crista G.
- Many years ago, when my kids were little, we were broke after my (then) husband suffered a head injury at work. Our kids weren’t going to have a Christmas at all. A small group at church heard of our situation and “adopted” us. They came through with a few hundred dollars to get a tree, dinner fixings, and gifts for the kids. Although it took me to a whole new place of total humility, I am still grateful and remember the heart of that Christmas all these years later. I would love to be able to give like that someday! — Karen B.
- Several years ago, when my wife and I were looking to adopt a child, an acquaintance gave us more than $5,000 to help in this process. We have never forgotten this kind and generous act. — Scott R.
I love the personal and creative ways you are giving to others. The dollar amount doesn’t matter. It’s about what’s in your heart. And based on what I’ve seen, generosity is alive and well in your lives. Not only are you blessing others, you’re also developing a legacy of giving in your family tree.
And that’s something money can’t buy.