When I was a kid our family fell on hard times more than once. My parents always did whatever it took to keep five kids fed and in a warm, safe home. However, as we all know, sometimes things happen that you just can’t plan for. Jobs are lost, medical issues arise, and sometimes we find ourselves in financial distress when we least expect it.
Although, as an adult I have only the fondest memories of holidays with my family, I know it wasn’t always easy for my parents. I remember watching them struggle with the idea of not being able to buy us Christmas gifts. They had to worry about paying the bills and where grocery money was coming from that week, and the stress of the holidays just added to that.
I think most of us know how to help people who are really, really struggling. We can help at the homeless shelter, we can adopt an angel from the tree at the mall, we can send canned foods to the food drive at our children’s school. But what about the families that aren’t homeless? What do you do for a family that just needs a little help while they are trying to get back on their feet?
- Gift cards. Grab a gift card to a store where the family can purchase necessities. Gas cards are great ideas too. The idea here is to help them to purchase things that they have to spend money on regularly. This might allow them to also purchase a small gift for their children when they would otherwise be unable to do so.
- Household goods. Make up a cute basket of paper towels, dish soap, laundry detergent, etc. Again, purchasing things the family will have to buy anyway can be a big help.
- Toys for the kids. Sometimes buying gifts for the kids just isn’t an option when bills and overdue fees are piling up. Giving a baby doll or a box of Legos can go a long way in lifting the spirits of a family that is struggling. Just keep in mind that gifts shouldn’t come with any associated costs. Don’t buy toys that require batteries or video games that require an online gaming membership.
- Movie night basket. Throw in a DVD, some popcorn, and candy and you’ve got a night of family fun. A relaxing night at home together could provide a much needed break from the stress.
- Pay a bill for them. It can definitely be hard to accept financial support when you are doing your best to make ends meet, but a paid bill can be a great relief. Offering to pay a gas, electric, or internet bill for a month is a very thoughtful way to show your support.
There are many ways to help a struggling family this season. Decide on a way that works best for you. Trust me. Your kindness will be appreciated and remembered fondly for years to come. Who knows? Maybe your small act of kindness will inspire a family to do the same for someone else down the road.