It's exhausting just how much shopping we do this time of year: We shop for toys, stocking stuffers, food for our tables, and even just the right holiday cards to mail to family and friends. We live in a world where we assume everyone else is doing the same thing, but, unfortunately, many struggle to shop for ANY of these items.
I remember a year growing up where the holidays were something extra special. It wasn't because we had dozens of presents under the tree (I remember only one significant gift that year). It wasn't because we got all dressed up in matching outfits and took a picture as a family to send to the neighbors (I alternated between two pairs of pants that fit me very well for the entire season.) It wasn't because my Mom was going to make a prime rib roast or glazed parsnips from a magazine that she got in the mail (my Grandma's dinner was amazing, but we stuck to the more down-home "ham balls" meal.)
The year that really stuck out in my mind included a simple cardboard box. My mom came home from her job and put it on our family table. We opened it and found food inside - some were foods we hadn't had in a very long time (or ever.) My mom explained that some people had handed it out for the holidays (I can only assume now that it was the local food bank.) Inside was something amazing that I hadn't had but that I would remember forever: a ripe orange and a box of fruit snacks!
As I've spent the past few seasons working alongside ConAgra Foods and the Child Hunger Ends Here campaign, you've likely heard me tell you about how important food is to kids in the U.S. Many don't do as well as we'd like, skipping meals because there really isn't anything in their home to eat. What you may not know is that this time of year is a HUGE opportunity for you to let kids in your community know just how much you care with a gift that provides life and hope: the gift of food.
There is also a unique opportunity to go one step further. Yes, it's amazing when hundreds of boxes of macaroni are donated to a food pantry (they can really use it.) But, do you know what's even more amazing? When something "extra special" is donated.
This holiday season, if you find it in your heart to give to your local food bank, take a minute to ask them "What really special items can I donate to make the holidays memorable for a child who has little?" Maybe it's fresh fruit. Maybe it's milk. Only your food bank can tell you what is really needed and appreciated.
Then, since the logistics of buying, storing, and distributing that special food is best handled by the experts (the food bank), give a cash donation that you feel comfortable with and that can go toward those special holiday goals. Today, I did a "virtual food drive" and donated $10 to my local food bank (which was enough to buy one a case of canned veggies.)
I know that my food bank can take each dollar and turn it into 3 meals for those in need (some of those will be kids.) My $10 donation helped 30 people this holiday season! Can you say the same for the $10 in stocking stuffers you will be buying this year?
Consider giving to your local food bank. Let us know if you have in the comments!
Child Hunger Ends Here campaign. Opinions and experiences shared here are my own.