Pull into a crowded parking lot at the nearest Wal-Mart or whatever store you frequent, cruise the lot for an empty spot, jump out of the car with your long list of must-haves to join the throng of Christmas shoppers.
On the way inside the store, you hear the familiar ringing of a bell and you spy the volunteer bell-ringer with the Salvation Army kettle. You’re in a hurry, but you reach in your pocket or wallet or purse and dig out whatever you can find – some change or a couple of bucks. Throw it in the kettle, accept the “thank you, Merry Christmas” and scurry on your way.
You walk inside your house of worship. There’s an “angel tree” in the foyer. Gift tags with the only identifying items such as “3-yr-old girl wants a baby doll, wears size 4T clothing.” You choose a tag, purchase a few items, and send those off to be distributed to the child in need.
Your civic group participates in Operation Christmas Child with Samaritan’s Purse. You dutifully find shoe boxes, shop for small toys and school supplies, soap and toothpaste, and cram the boxes full and write a check so the boxes might be shipped to the other side of the world into a child’s eager hands in time for Christmas.
Your favorite hair salon/doctor/grocery store sponsors a food drive to replenish a food pantry and another local business holds a winter coat drive. You pack up some canned goods, drop them off. You rummage in the front hall closet and dig out those still good but unwanted winter coats and donate them.
You might even take your kids for the day to volunteer distributing bags of groceries with Christmas dinner items packed inside to families in need of food.
And you call this charity. You call this good will. You call this helping those in need. You call it whatever you want to call it because it makes you feel like you’ve done something to help. Something to serve. Something.
And this something proves easy when you do this once a year.
It’s Christmas. We think about those who go without during this holiday season and it’s easy to open our hearts and our wallets or check books. Because isn’t that what we should do? Isn’t that what makes us feel like we’re spreading Christmas cheer? Or isn’t that what makes us feel good?
Yes. Yes. And yes. But…..you ask yourself…why do you only perform these good deeds at Christmas time? Where is your generosity the rest of the year?
And what would happen if you actually gave all through the year? In March. Or August. Or every month of the year.
What if you provided a summer picnic to a needy family? What if you purchased a fan to cool off a summer’s day for someone who can’t afford one?
What if you donated food staples to the food pantry all year long because really, are people only going hungry at Christmas time?
What if you helped a child, one who needs food, clothing, school supplies, and a little toy to bring a smile to his or her face, for 12 months or 12 years?
What if you gave your time to spend it with someone who is lonely? Someone who is hurting, someone who is grieving?
What if you prayed every day for God to help those who desperately need Him in their lives and to use you in any way He sees fit to teach them about His saving grace?
What if you focused on the feelings of those in need instead of focusing on your own good feeling when you give?
What if you opened your heart every day of the year and not just once a year in December?
Wouldn’t that be something?