Christmas is just a week away and most of us are probably already busy with our holiday preparations.
From gift shopping to making plans with the family, our days are probably very full. The same goes for our kids, too, as we help them prepare for school Christmas programs and buy gifts for their teachers and/or classmates.
With the busyness and stress that can result from the holiday season though, it can be easy to forget the true meaning behind it all, i.e. that the essence of Christmas is love and sharing that love with others, especially those who need it the most.
One way we can be true to the essence of Christmas is by finding ways to "give back" and share our blessings with the needy. Here are a few ways to do that:
1. Feed one child (or more!) with Mingo Meals.
“Mingo Meals” is a project of the Negrense Volunteers for Change Foundation (NVC). The meals come in powder form, and are made up of rice, mongo or mung beans, and malunggay or moringa. Each nutrition-packed Mingo sachet costs only P5.00 and is packed with protein, fat, vitamins A, C, B1, B6, potassium, iron, calcium and zinc.
NVC uses Mingo Meals in their Start Right, Live Bright Nutrition Program, which helps feed children in depressed areas in Western and Central Visayas, including those in areas that were hard-hit by Typhoon Yolanda.
Donating Mingo Meals is fairly easy. You and your child can do so by choosing Mingo eCards to give this Christmas to your loved ones, or even by simply pooling together all the loose change you have lying around your home and donating it to NVC.
If your child has been saving coins in a piggy bank, you can also try talking to him about how even just sharing P5 can help feed another child like him.
To learn more about NVC’s work and how you and your child can help out, visit their website.
2. Pool your resources and donate to The Noche Buena Project.
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The Noche Buena Project was started by the Youth for a United World Manila to “encourage people to make this Christmas season a meaningful moment, by sharing what they have and sponsor an impoverished family’s Noche Buena.”
For a pledge of P500, you can treat a whole family a to a “Christmas feast.” The Noche Buena packages are distributed to the poorest families living in the communities that are supported by the Bukas Palad social centers around the Philippines.
According to the Noche Buena Project team, most of these families have also been victims of the floods that took place during the past two years.
Aside from food packages, the Noche Buena Project also distributes donated toys to the families in need.
To know more about the Noche Buena Project, visit their Facebook page, or contact Kat Bulan at 0917-8917419.
3. Share the gift of play with "Maaga ang Pasko".
Most kids who come from well-off families usually have an overabundance of toys in their homes. This holiday season is the perfect time for us to encourage our children to share the wonderful gift of playtime by giving toys to kids in need.
Jollibee’s Maaga ang Pasko drive is one way you can put old toys to good use. Of course, you need to make sure that the things you donate are still in good condition. You can find out more about the campaign here.
Former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan once said, “Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope.” Indeed, reading books benefits people, especially children, in many different ways.
Sadly though, there are many children in the Philippines who don’t have easy access to books. This Christmas season, you and your child can help make a difference in other kids’ lives, simply by sharing books with those who need them.
One way you can do so is through National Bookstore’s Project Aklat. All you need to do is purchase pre-selected books, which will be used to build different libraries in areas where they are needed.
You can involve your child in this good deed by asking him to choose titles from the Project Aklat book selection.
5. Donate to "Gawad Kalinga" to alleviate others’ suffering.
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The recent typhoon that hit the Philippines has left many of our countrymen in dire need of food and other relief goods.
Explain to your child how donating to relief operations — in cash and/or in kind — is a great way to share the spirit of Christmas with others, and encourage him or her to add to your donation, even if it’s just P10 or P20 from his or her savings/allowance.
6. Share your time and talents with others. Sometimes the best Christmas present of all is our presence.
Talk to your kids about how other people sometimes feel especially lonely during Christmas — people like the lolos and lolas living in a home for the elderly, children staying in an orphanage, or patients recovering in the hospital.
Then, come up with ideas on how you and your children can share your time, and maybe even your talents, with such people.
For example, your family could organize a simple Christmas party for a group of children in a center for streetchildren, or even just in your own barangay. Older kids can be in charge of games, while younger kids can help pack loot bags with candies or other treats.
You can even include other people in this project — like members of your extended family, your friends and their respective children, your officemates, and anyone else who would like to be part of it.
However you choose to give the gift of giving, remember that being kind, generous and thoughtful is something we should be teaching our children to be not just during Christmas, but every single day — and the best way to do so is by showing these positive character traits ourselves.
See a longer list of organizations that could benefit from your kindness in the December issue of Smart Parenting magazine! Get it from leading bookstores and convenience stores nationwide, or download the digital version.