What Everyone Should Know About Giving to the Poor

This is the time of year, our hearts tug at us and remind us of the great joy that can be found in giving.  So I’ve come up with this tips on How to Give Gifts to the Poor.

giving to the poor

Our family has the opportunity to connect with lots of organizations which help those in need. So, as a result we’ve heard lots of stories and we even have some of our own. Stories that have taught me what to do and not to do when helping those in need.  I hope the tips below are helpful as you move forward on “leaving a legacy of giving” behind to your children.

I’ve been working with low-income and poverty stricken families since I can remember.  I started volunteering to work with low-income kids and families since high school but it started before that. The seed was planted because of my parents heart to give to others as a result of having been blessed. Honestly though, we were probably also considered a low-income family by others but that didn’t stop my parents from giving of their “overflow”.

As I have mentioned before, that example and heart of service my parents modeled to me is how the seed of compassion that God planted in my heart was watered in my childhood years, by their giving. I’m sure you find yourself reading this article because you also want to leave that legacy behind, to your kids.

giving quote

We can start that legacy of giving on the right foot by not giving crap to the poor. I share in an article HERE on how to move away from the mentality of “Beggars shouldn’t be choosers.”

How To Give Gifts to the Poor

If you are doing any type of gift buying for a child whether it’s “sponsored, adopt-a-child for Christmas, Toys for Tots…”  or a community member in need, please remember these simple tips:

  1. First and foremost, to the best of your ability find out if the organization or situation you’re contributing to, is legitimate.  There are so many great organizations who are already established and running like: Operation Christmas Child, Toys for tots, World Vision, Heiffer International….
  2. But don’t forget you don’t have to go far to find need, think about those in and around your community– there might be a low income daycare class of kids that you can get permission  to buy a book or stuffed animal.  Or go to your local shelter and maybe your time is the best gift in this situation.
  3. I like to think outside the box because I want my kids to directly be involved in the giving so we have found that these ideas work for us. We did this Cookie Exchange with a Twist around this time of the year a few years back.  And this has a cute printable to encourage your kids to declutter their toys for charity.
  4. mother teresa quoteGive from your heart.  Sometimes this is worth more than what we give.
  5. Give what’s needed.  Ask if there are any specific needs and then add a fun toy to it (if they allow it).  Make sure if you’re going through an organization that you follow their policies. Don’t just buy things without asking first if it’s okay.
  6. Give what you would want your child to receive for Christmas.  This speaks for itself, but I’ll share a little more about it in point # 7.

decluttering toys for charity

7. Don’t give away anything that is broken, torn, or not working.  One day I was putting some toys in a pile that my kids didn’t use and my son brought me his broken piano and said, “We can give this to a poor kid at Christmas.” Though I was thankful for his giving heart, I looked at him appalled and embarrassed. Did this really come out of my child’s mouth?  He had no idea what he was saying but it still rubbed me the wrong way. This was one of those teachable moments we have as parents. So, I sat down with all three of my boys and shared with them: we never give away things that are broken, torn, badly stained or not working.  That shirt and pants covered in paint in your give away pile needs to go in the trash.

giving to the poor

8. This I feel very strongly about because I’ve seen the disappointment in a child’s face when they get a $1 store toy that only last for an hour before it’s completely broken.  These kids probably only own dollar store toys that didn’t last for more than a few hours, so please, don’t fill up a box with dollar toys.  There are some good quality toys that cost less than $15 so I”m not saying go spend $50 on a child.   I don’t mean to pick on dollar stores because I have found some good buys there so what I’m saying is don’t buy cheap plastic dolls or cars that won’t last for more than a few days.  If you’re going to buy them a toy car make sure it’s not plastic, if you’re going to buy a doll make sure it’s good quality and it’s head is not going to pop off in a couple of hours.

9. If you have the opportunity to give the gift directly to the child or family, remember not to walk in their home or the organization, like you own the place.  Smile and humbly give them the gift.  We recently had the joy of giving some street children Happy Meals.

smile quote

And I reminded my kids to smile because it’s the best gift you can give them.

Update: I’m adding to the list what our readers and friends have shared since I wrote this.

10.  It’s not about checking off the box – there are people with hopes, dreams, and hearts behind those donations… we approach giving differently when we keep that in mind.   Krista from Meaning in a Minute

11. An organization I work with sorts through donated clothes & excludes any clothing that mentions family members (I love mom, #1 brother, etc).  The children they serve are foster kids and kids that have been suddenly removed from their homes.  I thought I’d mention it because it  never would’ve crossed my mind that such items would be hurtful reminders to some people.  ~Sonia

12.   Avoid items that need maintenance like: batteries, requires an online registration, gift cards to places that can be used by the parents for necessities if your intention is to give a gift to the child (Walmart, Target, Kmart, etc.).  These often go to buy general merchandise rather than a shopping spree. Plus, younger children don’t usually understand its future value. ~Michelle

giving to the poor 1

13. Consider what would make your child’s eyes light up brightly on Christmas morning.  If you are going to spend $10 on 10 items at a dollar store, consider giving a $10 gift instead.  Quality trumps quantity.  Make someone’s day brighter with the unexpected. ~Michelle

14. Remember that preteens & teens are often left out.  Young children are given toys, parents are given food or help with bills.    Consider buying a decent watch, a new wallet, real art supplies (but follow the rules of the organization, permanent markers or paints might be on a “no” list, fashion items for girls, or sports jerseys for a local professional team. ~Michelle

15. If you’re giving away clothes to a disaster relief organization make sure you’re not sending a box full of sweaters to Haiti.  I remember on my first disaster relief trip I took in my college years, I spent days on end boxing up scarves, coats, sweaters and other winter items that were sent to a hot tropical area.  It was wasted space and time for all involved and not to mention shipping.

What are some of your tips?

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  1. So appreciate this post. YES!!! It’s not about checking off the box – there are people with hopes, dreams, and hearts behind those donations… we approach giving differently when we keep that in mind. Thank you!

    • Krista, Thanks so much for stopping by and for the kind words. Your tip is well said. I shared it above in my article. Gracias and feliz navidad!

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