While the Christmas season is known to be the season of giving, in the rush caused by added commitments and pressures, sometimes that fact is easy to overlook. From Thanksgiving, which was established to give thanks to God for his blessings and protection, to Christmas, a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ and his gift to the world, there are efforts throughout the community to enter into the true spirit of the season and help those in need.
The efforts are varied, from individual family efforts, to those organized by businesses and organizations, to community-wide efforts. Everyone can make a difference.
This is clearly illustrated in the example set by third graders Meredith Shuch and Kate Matthews. Members of Second Baptist church, the girls participated in the Sunday school program to collect peanut butter for the church holiday outreach, Angels of Light.
Each year across the five campuses, Second Baptist hosts families nominated by local ministries from across the Houston area. The guests are treated to dinner and a Christmas program. Following the program, each child receives a Christmas gift and every family receives groceries to stock their pantry.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Angels of Light program, which has grown to serving over 7,000 people. In order to meet the needs of the guests, the outreach is a church wide effort with members bringing donations of gifts, groceries, and donations for a month prior to the event. From the senior life groups to the preschool classes, the focus is on helping those in need with each Bible study and age group tasked with filling a specific need for the night.
The children's program, TeamKid, was challenged to bring peanut butter to fill the grocery sacks of the attending families. "We live in such a blessed area," explains Angel King, TeamKid Children's Director at the Second Baptist North Campus, "We want our kids to not only be thankful for those blessings, but to also realize that there are kids just like them that don't have those same blessings, that don't have the rooms full of toys, the closets full of clothes, and sometimes don't even have enough food to eat." King concludes with the goal of the program, "We tell our kids that when they help fill a need that someone else has, they are being the hands and feet of Jesus."
Third graders Meredith and Kate took this exhortation to heart. Not content with asking their parents to buy an extra jar of peanut butter to gift, they came up with a plan to give a gift from the heart themselves. Holding a joint birthday party, they gave up gifts for themselves and instead asked their guests to bring jars of peanut butter that would be donated to the Angels of Light.
"When I saw the wagon roll in with the 63 jars of peanut butter and heard what the girls had done, I was in tears" said Bridget Core, TeamKid Children's Bible Study Coordinator, "When you see something like that you not only know that the words and the message are being heard, but it makes you ask yourself, 'Am I doing all I could?"
What Can I Do?
Take the challenge of Meredith and Kate and ask yourself, "What can I do?"
Is there a need in your neighborhood that needs to be filled? Is there an elderly neighbor that can be visited or an overtired mom whose child can be watched? Rather than sending one more complaint letter to the HOA about that overgrown yard down the street, could you trim and mow it instead?
Make a Difference: Give Locally
If you have a desire to be a secret Santa, there are a number of local efforts to benefit those in need
KSBJ Giving Tree
The KSBJ Giving Tree is a campaign that mobilizes the community to help individuals and families with legitimate needs due to dire circumstances they are facing.
Launched over 20 years ago, the KSBJ Giving Tree connects families with needs to individuals and families who would like to help meet those needs by providing gifts to the “nominated” family. KSBJ Giving Tree lives in your neighborhood. Whether it’s your neighbors or someone at work or in your church, join KSBJ to bless those with hope and joy this Christmas.
You can participate by either nominating a family in need and serving as the Coordinator throughout the Giving Tree process OR by assisting as a Giver to help meet the family’s need this Christmas season.
The Salvation Army provides a number of relief efforts throughout the Houston area particularly during the holidays. Donate at any one of the collection buckets at stores in the area or give a gift at one of the community angel trees.
20131 Highway 59 North
Humble, Texas 77338
Gift deadline: December 23, 2014
Contact: Aldine Westfield Corps
The Houston Fire Department is collecting toys for The Great Toy Giveaway to be held December 23rd. Toys will be collected at stations through December 17th.
1863 Kingwood Dr., 77339
4102 Lake Houston Parkway, 77345
2907 High Valley Dr., 77345
910 Forest Cove Dr., 77339
14014 Lake Houston Parkway, 77044
Toys for Tots Drive at Lone Star College Kingwood
Lonestar College - Kingwood
20000 Kingwood Dr, Suite SCC 234
Kingwood, TX 77339
Donate to the Toys for Tots drive sponsored by the Men's Center of Lone Star College, Kingwood. Donations will be collected through December 11th.
Socks for Soldiers
The Littlest Helpers are collecting socks and personal care items to send to soldiers through Socks for Soldiers. Donations will be colleged through December 15th. For more information and contact details for drop off, click here.
Humble Area Assistance Ministries (HAAM)
1302 First Street
Humble, TX 77338
HAAM is a ministry that provides assistance to individuals and families with low to moderate income and that live in the Northeast Harris and East Montgomery County areas. Throughout the year, HAAM provides assistance with rent, utilities, prescriptions, clothing, and eye glasses.
The holiday season is a time when extra assistance is provided through the distribution of holiday food bags and toys.
Ways to Donate:
Items for the HAAM resale shop: Drop off at 1302 First Street, Humble. Monday through Thursday 10 am to 2 pm
Monetary donations may be made by mail (P.O. Box 14051, Humble, TX 77347) or online at www.haamministries.org.
Toy Donations: Donations are requested by December 8th. The toy and food distribution will be held December 12th through 16th from 10 am to 2 pm
HAAM Season of Giving Donation suggestion flyer.
Collection Efforts Benefitting HAAM
- Operation Stuff a Stocking by Littlest Helpers. Toy collection through December 10th. Click here for more details.
T1203 South Houston Ave
Humble, TX 77338
The mission of FamilyTime is to provide an outreach program and accessible services to families and individuals in crisis through counseling, crisis intervention, information and referral, and shelter. They operate The Door, which is the only women's shelter in Northeast Harris County.
Assistance is ongoing throughout the year. In addition to monetary donations, FamilyTime also operates two resale shops and accepts donations of items and clothing. With the operation of The Door, donations of baby and children's items are particularly needed. Click to see the current list.
Each year a Christmas store is held where Mothers can shop for a Christmas gift for their children and children for their mothers.
22098 Loop 494
New Caney, TX 77357
The Mission NE provides a variety of services for low and moderate income families in the local area throughout the year. From the Mission NE Fact sheet:
- 97% of our families are categorized as "extremely poor"
- Many homes are headed by grandparents raising grandchildren
- Approximately 25% of our families are elderly and/or disabled
Families may be victims of job loss, death of spouse or parent, fire, flood, abandonment, domestic violence, and some are homeless. Sometimes people just need a little extra hope and help to get through a hard time.
Services include food assistance, job training and a job ministry, adult GED and ESL classes, a summer care and learning programs as well as others. The holiday season is a special time of need. In addition to food baskets, a Christmas party is held for senior adults as well as a Christmas store where children are able to shop for gifts for their parents as well as parents for their children.
Donations for Christmas store (gifts, gift cards, and food) are requested by December 9th. The Christmas store will be held from December 8th through December 12th.
Monetary donations can be mailed to P.O. Box 1207, New Caney, TX 77357-1207 or online at http://missionne.org.
2307 Crystal Springs Dr
Kingwood, TX 77339
Society of St. Stephen is a 501c3 community outreach assistance ministry serving persons living in the Humble, New Caney, and Splendora school districts. Each week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings from 9 a.m. to 11:30 am families are given help with food, clothing and limited financial assistance.
During the holiday season, the ministry provides food baskets for families as well as gifts for children ages 1 to 16.
Help fill the pantries of those in need by picking up a prepackaged bag of groceries at a participating grocery store and placing it in the Houston Food Bank red donation barrel.
Save 10% at So Chocolate
1542A Kingwood Dr
Kingwood, TX 77339
Through Saturday, December 6th, we will be accepting food, new toys and coats to donate to Humble Area Assistance Ministries (HAAM). With your donation you will receive 10% off your purchase.
Barnes & Noble Book Busters Book Drive
Barnes & Noble Deerbrook is holding the drive through Christmas Eve, encouraging customers to buy a book for the Memorial Hermann Northeast Hospital Volunteer “Book Busters” program. Book Busters”is a hospital-based literacy program organized by the Memorial Hermann Northeast Volunteers in 2004. Young patients and visitors are given a new book of their choice to read while in the hospital and then take home.
Do you have a donation effort or giving story to share?