A few of my family members have asked recently what I wanted for Christmas/Chanukah this year and I’ve really struggled to come up with an answer. I don’t have a list. There aren’t any clothes I’m dying to have. I don’t need any kitchen gadgets or electronics or other toys. Frankly right now, this holiday season, I am genuinely as content as I have ever been in my life.
Sure, we have our struggles and our wants. Our finances are bordering on terrible and we’ve got all eyes on our checking account and bills this month while we wait for the next batch of student loans to rescue us in January. But we know that truly we are blessed and it would be crazy not to realize that above all else. We are not wanting for anything and it almost seems silly to ask for presents.
And it was from this remembrance of our great fortune I was reminded of the spirit of this holiday season. It’s not about gifts or wrapping paper, it’s about giving, and that’s exactly what I want to do. I realize that finances are tight this year for all of us, and so when I sat down to think about ways to give back to other pregnant women and families with infants, I tried to cover giving of all kinds. Giving doesn’t have to mean money, in fact, some of the most meaningful giving can include no exchange of money at all.
I hope that some of you will join me in giving to families in need this holiday season. And please, if you have other suggestions, leave them in the comment sections. The more ideas the merrier. But the following are my top 6 ideas for ways to give back to pregnant women and families with infants this holiday season.
Cold Weather Hand-me-downs 1 of 6I spent last week in an ill-fitting coat in 40 degree weather and it was unpleasant, so I can barely imagine what it's like to try to manage cold weather without coats or without winter maternity clothes that fit properly. If you have winter weather maternity clothes that you're not wearing or you've outgrown, consider donating it to a local Goodwill, Salvation Army or Women's Shelter. I think we all know that when you're pregnant, regular coats and clothes don't fit and don't provide enough warmth. This is an easy way to help pregnant women this winter and aside from the initial cost of the clothes/coats, it's free. And possibly tax deductible.
Baby Hand-me-downs 2 of 6Along the same lines, families with new infants or women late in pregnancy this holiday season may be struggling to purchase safe baby gear at reasonable costs. If you have a crib, pack 'n play, car seat, stroller or used baby clothes that you're not using, consider donating them to Goodwill, Salvation Army, or a local women's shelter or even see if your hospital will accept donations, sometimes they will as well.
Women’s Shelter 3 of 6This suggestion isn't purely targeted at pregnant women, but women and families in general. Most major cities or metropolitan areas have a variety of women's shelters that provide a place to stay, and some also provide food and childcare. A quick google search will give you information about your local women's shelter, and from there, consider giving money if you can or time if you have it. Depending upon the shelter you may be able to do anything from cook/serve food to babysit.
NICU 4 of 6An unfortunate reality is that like all other times of the year, there are babies fighting to grow despite great odds. These babies sometimes spend weeks and months in the NICU and this time is especially challenging for these families, but there are a few things you can do to help. First, a cause near and dear to my heart is an organization called Friends of Maddie, that was started by a good friend of mine and creates support packs to deliver to local NICUs. These packs provide essentials for families who have an infant in the NICU and would be a great gift this holiday season. If you don't think that you can manage to sponsor a support pack or make a donation to Friends of Maddie, you can always deliver baked goods or other gifts to your local NICU but call ahead to find out if they have any restrictions about donations.
Dinner and Babysitting 5 of 6I think it's essential that we not forget helping and giving on a very local level. I am always humbled by groups of friends who rise together to help others and most of the time all you need is time and/or groceries. Great ways to give back to friends who are pregnant or who have infants include preparing meals or arranging a meal delivery for that family, offering to babysit older children and offering to sit for new babies so moms can make quick errands or even shower with some peace of mind, especially if they do not have family nearby to help out.
Toy Clean Out After the Holidays 6 of 6