As a child, I can't remember any instance of any member of my family doing charitable work during the holiday season. I do remember participating in a canned food drive either through Brownies or through school. The only other time a member of my family did charity work was my grandfather. He was a member of the Masonic Lodge and the Shriners. In one instance I recall my grandparents participated in a caravan to Salt Lake City to the children's hospital to take donations of food, clothing and the like, but I don't think that occurred around Christmas.
When I was in high school, I became involved with Key Club, which is the youth organization of Kiwanis International. Our group was very successful and had many members. We actively did local volunteer work throughout the year. One of the annual activities was helping at the local Salvation Army handing out food boxes to the recipients. We helped load the items in the family's vehicle, including their turkey and Christmas gifts. I believe they were also able to "shop" for any necessary clothing items their family may have needed. This was a very rewarding experience just to be able to see the joy on the children's faces when they saw some wrapped packages just for them.
In more recent times, we have participated in the Angel tree through our church where members select Angel tags that list the wishes of a child who has an incarcerated parent. Each child has two tags on the tree: one for clothing and one for a toy or two. Now that my oldest daughter is old enough to understand gifts, she helped this year in selecting a tag for a little four year old girl. My daughter helped shop for the toys, selected the wrapping paper and the bow. We impressed upon her that this little girl's parents may not be able to give her a present on Christmas morning so we were doing it instead and she seemed to understand the purpose.
I hadn't thought much more about it until watching the local evening news last week. One of the main stories was that our local Salvation Army was not likely to have enough food to meet the requests this year. My daughter turned to me and said, "Oh, Mommy, can we help those people?" My heart just melted. On Saturday we went to the grocery store early in the morning where she helped me shop for the items to donate. Our local NBC affiliate was having a big donation drive that day so we took several bags of groceries to help support their efforts to be donated to our local Rescue Mission, the Salvation Army or the local food bank. They received 21 tons of food that day. I am immensely proud of her for wanting to help and for understanding at her young age that there are others out there not as fortunate as she is.