By Hailey Hudson December 2018
Not only is it important to give back; it’s also important to do so as a family. This year, don’t just write a check to a charity—instead, carve out some time and let your children serve others alongside you. “For the families who are volunteering, it’s a great way for them to count their blessings,” says Keysha Smith, program director at Macon’s Ronald McDonald House. “We provide housing for families that have critically and seriously ill pediatric patients that are being treated at nearby hospitals. For the families that we serve, them seeing families volunteering—it gives them a glimmer of hope that one day they can get to that point in their lives, that they’ll have a patient who gets well, and they’ll be able to serve.”
Cindy Gaskins, executive director of Macon’s Jay’s HOPE Foundation, weighs in. “It is important to teach our children the value in loving our neighbors. It’s about stepping outside of your bubble to see the needs of others in your community.”
Margaret Flowers, who founded the Genesis Joy House of Warner Robins, also thinks serving as a family is important—because you never know when you might be in an unfortunate position yourself. “At the snap of a finger, we could be in that situation. . . . As a country, we help hurricane victims, and we need to come together more to help [our] community as well.”
Serving others is important all year long, but the Christmas season is a great time to start. After all, what better way to honor the birth of Jesus than to celebrate His life by following His teachings regarding charity and love?
Sunday, December 2nd
Let your children make Christmas cards for soldiers and send them through adoptaussoldier.org. Through this website, you can also adopt a soldier to support with letters year-round. Not sure what to write in a letter to deployed troops? Share about your family’s hobbies, interests, and pets and ask about theirs. And always thank your soldier for their service.
Monday, December 3rd
Call a local hospital and see if your family can come decorate the halls.
Tuesday, December 4th
Family Advancement Ministries is a social service organization that runs a life skills education program from Orange Street in Macon. They need volunteers to perform administrative tasks, organize clothes, tutor English as a Second Language (ESL), and more. Read through the volunteer opportunities available and figure out which ones match up with your family’s interests and talents; then fill out the volunteer application at familyadvancementministries.org/volunteer.html.
Wednesday, December 5th
Give a donation and also buy a cup of coffee or hot chocolate for a Salvation Army bell ringer to make their job a little warmer.
Thursday, December 6th
Every year, Jay’s Hope—a Macon nonprofit that supports families of children who are battling cancer—hosts a HOPE 4 the Holidays party for 250+ children. Go to jayshope.org to receive the wish list of a child; you can also volunteer to help wrap the thousands of gifts.
Friday, December 7th
Since 1872, The Methodist Home has prospered through the love and generosity of others. With over 140 children in residential care and many others in HOPE Foster Care and visitation programs, they would appreciate donations to help meet the children’s needs! Visit themethodisthome.org/ways-to-help/donate-items/ to find ways to help.
Saturday, December 8th
“Genesis Joy House is the first facility to help our homeless female veterans in middle Georgia,” says Margaret Flowers, founder. This year, Genesis Joy House is having its fourth annual toy drive. As a sponsor, you will receive the wish list of a veteran and her children. Purchase toys, wrap them, and drop them off at the Joy House on December 8 anytime between 10 AM and 2 PM. The Genesis Joy House also accepts tax-deductible donations online at genesisjoyhouse.com or contact by phone 478.918.7606.
Sunday, December 9th
Do you have an elderly neighbor or friend who would like to put up Christmas lights and decorations, but doesn’t have the energy or strength? Help them!
Monday, December 10th
Visit the dollar store and fill a stocking with small items like lip balm, socks, and snacks. Leave the stocking in your car. When you see someone who needs it—a homeless person or a stressed mom—pass it on.
Tuesday, December 11th
“Project Giving receives families in need who are hand-picked by teachers and counselors,” says Natalie Woodward, office manager and Christmas adoption coordinator. “Please help to make this year special for needy families in Middle Georgia.” To adopt a family, visit projectgiving.net and click on “Christmas adoptions.”
Wednesday, December 12th
The Middle Georgia Community Food Bank (mgcfb.org) has volunteer opportunities available Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., making it easy for you to volunteer during a time that fits your family’s schedule. Your family can help bag and box food to distribute to senior citizens (around 1250 bags per month) and families with children (1100 families per month). Call 478.257.6398 to make a reservation to volunteer. (Please note: an adult must accompany volunteers under the age of 14.)
Thursday, December 13th
Call a local nursing home to schedule a visit. Your children can bring cards, cookies, and cheer to the residents, who might not get visitors at the holidays.
Friday, December 14th
Make some sack lunches and take them to a police station or fire station.
Saturday, December 15th
While the Macon Ronald McDonald House on Forsyth Street suspends their normal volunteer opportunities during the holidays, groups are still welcome to come in and bake holiday goodies or make lunch for the families at the house. “The smell of fresh-baked goods in the house is always a good thing,” says Keysha Smith. Interested in volunteering in 2019? Visit rmhccga.org to download the application. (Note: While elementary school kids can come with their parents, volunteers must be at least 16 to visit alone.)
Sunday, December 16th
Moms, do you or your daughters have long hair? Make an appointment with your stylist to donate 10 inches to Locks of Love (locksoflove.org), an organization that makes wigs for cancer patients.
Monday, December 17th
Paint river rocks (found at Home Depot or similar stores) with encouraging messages and leave them around town for other people to find. For inspiration, visit “Macon Georgia Rocks” on Facebook.
Tuesday, December 18th
Give your children a mission: Do some detective work to find out their teachers’ favorite candy, snacks, and stores. Then make gift baskets and send them to school (anonymously or with a card).
Wednesday, December 19th
Is there a single parent in your life, or someone whose spouse is currently deployed? Offer pro bono babysitting so they can go Christmas shopping.
Thursday, December 20th
Write a thank-you note for your mailman and leave it, along with a delicious holiday treat, in the mailbox.
Friday, December 21st
Loaves and Fishes Ministry runs a Day Life Service Center (651 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard) that provides services to the homeless and poor in Macon and Middle Georgia. The center is in need of supplies such as cleaning products, canned goods, and clothing. (For a complete list of needs, visit loavesandfishesministry.org/needs/) Take your children shopping to purchase some of the items and drop them off at the center.
Saturday, December 22nd
Give a homeless pet a Christmas present this year—All About Animals Rescue located on Riverside Drive in Macon is short on both dog and cat beds. Visit the following link to buy a bed and have it sent to All About Animals Rescue: kuranda.com/donate?intShelterID=2741&strFormStage=b
Sunday, December 23rd
Layaway Santa Middle Georgia started in 2013 to pay off layaway accounts for needy families. This year, December 23 is the last day to donate; visit gofundme.com/LayawaySantaMidGa2018 with your family to help out.
Monday, December 24th
Bake cookies and pass them out to your neighbors, wishing them a very Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday full of peace, hope, love, and joy. #