9 Ways to Bring Joy to Families in Need This Christmas

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Here are some ways to do some Christmas giving this season! 🎄

reader giving back — stuffed animal pile from tree trimming party for project night night

Spread some joy to the world! 

We are in the midst of the holiday season, and although it’s easy to get swept up in the madness, giving back and being thankful is the most important part of this Christmas season. This time of year is wonderful to reflect on all of our blessings big and small, and do our best to make a world of a difference to those in need. ❤️

Not sure where to start? We’ve come up with a list of ideas, on both local and global scales, for you to start making a difference! Plus, keep reading because we include some kids’ gift donation ideas for under $30.

Here are several ways to do some Christmas giving and bring joy to others:

1. Light up a family’s Christmas with the USPS Operation Santa program.

USPS operation santa packing boxes

This wonderful program by the USPS is so impactful and simple! We recently shared in greater detail about Operation Santa, but it all comes down to four easy steps.

On their website, you’ll read through some letters and adopt one you love, shop and keep the gift anonymous (since you’re helping Santa out!), wrap your present, and ship it by December 18th! You’re helping out parents while also bringing some happiness to a child’s Christmas.

2. Sponsor or “adopt” a family through DoingGoodTogether.org.

various presents wrapped in red paper and ribbon

DoingGoodTogether.org prides itself on raising future generations with kindness. It also has instructions on how you can easily “adopt” a family through local Catholic Charities, Lutheran Social Services, or the Salvation Army. After selecting one, you’ll be matched with a family and learn specifics about their family members, including age, interests, etc.

From there, you and your family can brainstorm a list of what to gift. You’ll wrap them and drop them off at the designated location.

3. Check for local opportunities with VolunteerMatch.org.

volunteer match woman giving food

VolunteerMatch.org connects you with hundreds of service opportunities within your neighborhood once you enter your zip code! They have over 100,000 nonprofits registered along with various categories and listings of places that need volunteers.

Even if you aren’t interested in the opportunities listed, you can use the lists as a starting point to reach out to local shelters, churches, and/or food banks that are looking for help with holiday opportunities that pique your interest.

4. Create a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child.

people with masks on packing Operation Christmas Child boxes

Operation Christmas Child allows you to grab a shoebox, decorate it as you please, and fill it with sweet gifts and essentials a child may need. If you’re already doing some holiday decor shopping at Hobby Lobby, they sell pre-decorated boxes!

After filling the box, simply drop it off at your nearest location. If there isn’t a location near you, you can build a shoebox online!

Don’t know what to put in your shoebox? We have a whole list of ideas for what to put in an Operation Christmas Child box!

5. Do some Christmas giving by delivering Toys for Tots!

toys for tots stuffed animal in santas bag

Toys for Tots is an extrordinary program by the Marine Corps Reserve to help distribute toys to less fortunate children. In some cases, you’ll see various in-person fundraisers where you can drop off a toy, but there are also opportunities to donate virtually.

Toys for Tots has various programs that exceed beyond Christmas, including a Native American Reservation Program and a Literacy Program dedicated to assisting better education opportunities for our youth.

6. Write a letter to Santa to help out Make-A-Wish.

make a wish at great wolf lodge

Make-A-Wish is world-renowned for helping ill children, and for Christmas, they collaborate with Macy’s Believe bringing even more joy to children! Something as simple as writing a letter to Santa and dropping it off in one of the mailboxes has allowed Macy’s to raise $2 million on behalf of Make-A-Wish; that’s $2 per letter!

With these donations, Macy’s has helped grant over 16,000 wishes, and you can take part this year by simply writing to Santa. Just make sure to drop that letter off at your local Macy’s by December 24th. ❤️

7. Pick a tag of an Angel Tree at your local Walmart.

kids with salvation army toys

The Salvation Army’s Angel Trees are back at your local Walmart stores! Simply look for the Angel Tree which has tons of tags that include a child’s (also known as angels in this program), wishlist for Christmas of needed donations from clothes to toys to essential items. Once you bring your gift back to the Salvation Army, they will distribute the gifts to the angels on Christmas morning!

You can also fulfill wish lists from the comfort of home by heading here to find an Angel Tree registry near you!

8. Donate some Trees for Troops

trees for troops christmas trees

For the past 16 years, Trees for Troops by the Christmas Spirit Foundation has distributed over 200,000 real trees to military families thanks to donations! Simply view their participating locations on the website and pick a tree to donate, which is then picked up and delivered to a base by FedEx. What an awesome way to spread Christmas cheer!

9. Meals On Wheels keeps elders fed & provides a welcomed visit to their home!

meals on wheels america

Meals on Wheels America helps deliver meals to seniors year round, but since many elders are unfortunately alone during the holidays, the visits are especially welcomed this time of year! You can help out by delivering or donating in order to bring smiles to the millions of faces of those who benefit from this program. ❤️

Need some help on great gift ideas to donate? Here are popular toys you can grab for less right now:

barbie loves the beach

100 Piece Kids Art Set By Creatology
Just $2.99 (regularly $4.99)

Various Barbie Dolls
Dolls starting at $4.99

kids playing with mr potato head

Playskool Mr. Potato Head
Just $5 (regularly $7.99)

PAW Patrol kids playset

Squishmallows Stuffed Animals
Starting at $10.97

BONUS Christmas Giving Idea: Partake in some random acts of kindness!

Starbucks Holiday Drinks

It could be as simple as paying for the coffee order for the person behind you in the drive-thru line, or surprising a family member with some quality time.

If you’ve been on the receiving end of any random acts of kindness, you know how special it makes you feel and the impacts it can have on your day.

christmas delivery gift boxes at doorstep

These are all wonderful ideas and bonding experiences to share with your family and friends. Remember that although it is the season of giving, you can donate your time and resources at any point of the year.
Now go spread that Christmas cheer! 🎁

Let’s do some more random acts of kindness!

About the writer:

Kaitlyn has a Bachelor's Degree from St. John's University with 2 years of writing experience for LinkedIn, Celeb Magazine, and other various publications.

Join The Discussion

Comments 6

  1. amytrus

    Another great project is sending holiday cards to Nursing Homes or homebound individuals thru the Angel Card Project. You can join the group on Facebook

    • Tia in FL

      Just looked this up. Going to get my cards & stamps out now! Thanks for the suggestion!

    • Kaitlyn (Hip Sidekick)

      Love this suggestion!

  2. jaimiv

    Not trying to be a negative Nancy, but please know about the organizations. If you’re still okay with how they operate, then good, but if not, you can choose a better program. Make-a-wish (some states) doesn’t help kids with some life-threatening, life-long diseases, simply bc there are too many kids with it. Just putting it out there.

    • Betsy

      I agree! Operation Christmas Child is essentially a way for American kids to learn how to be generous. However, the churches overseas PAY for the transportation, logistics to receive the boxes and it ends up being extremely wasteful and a burden to those on the receiving end.
      It’s much better to give to individuals/families directly rather than going through large organizations. Or ask your local church and they can connect you to people in need and you’ll be able to help without hurting that way.

      • Denver

        I would have to disagree about your comment. Yes, churches have to pay for transportation – traveling thousands of miles to remote locations does not come free.

        Foremost, Christmas boxes are a GIFT and not relief or charity. If you have ever watched one of the videos, you realized that ALL children LOVE toys, school supplies, clothing and tolietries, just like US children. Second, OCC boxes. are a means of spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know this is not a wasteful endeavor in any sense, OR a burden to the recipients. Parents are very grateful and children are delighted with their shoebox full of goodies.


        Operation Christmas Child is part of Samaritan’s Purse – one of the first emergency disaster relief organizations to show up with supplies and water. They have an excellent reputation and have transparency with their funding. I’m not a big fan of large organizations either but Samaritan’s Purse is an exception. I would encourage anyone curious to visit their website or volunteer for Operation Christmas Child. I have volunteered at their distribution site before and it really got me hooked into doing shoeboxes (and because it gave me a reason to discount shop, ha ha.) My shoe boxes are awesome by the way. I can only guess that the surprise and joy on the other end.

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