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As a civic leader, people look to you to set the tone for the community in terms of altruism during the Christmas season.

christmas dinnerNow, obviously, as Christians, our desire for altruism and doing good works extends beyond the Christmas season and should really define our faith during the entire year (James 1:27).

However, during this time, there is a very special attitude welling up inside the people, and it is the perfect time for the mobilization of initiatives.  People tend to volunteer and give more.  Not that this means we should exploit people’s altruism, but it means that the good we were already planning on doing is just a little bit easier to do around Christmas.

So what kind of community organization can you organize around Christmastime in order to care for those in need in your community?

Here is a list of ideas:

Adopt-a-Child/Adopt-a-Family

This is one of the most widely used ideas, and one of the most simple.

A family or child who is either homeless or low-income is put into a registry for being “adopted”.  In this context, all “adopted” means is that they will receive presents from the person who is “adopting”.

Sometimes adopters get to see a Christmas wishlist of the adoptee.  Then the adopters can either give those items or else give money to go toward those items.

Your job as a civic leader would be to organize between the homeless shelters, non-profits in town to put together a registry, and make sure the money/presents all get to the right people.

As a civic leader, people look to you to set the tone during the #Christmas season. Click To Tweet

Christmas for the City

christmas for the city

Christmas for the City is a really great community event which is put on every year in Bethlehem, PA.

The community in Bethlehem rents out the event center in their city for Christmas Day.  Within the event center, they put up all kinds of activities for everyone – and it’s free, so the homeless and low-income are able to come and participate with the community.

Christians put the event on, so it is unashamedly gospel-centered.  And it is all relationship-based.  Rather than just throwing money/food/activities at poor people, the goal of the event is to involve everybody together in loving relationship.

They offer a large community-wide meal, craft workshops, photography galleries, musical performances, poetry slams, flash mobs, and a non-profit fair.

The cool thing is that it involves every kind of person to participate to pull of – civic leaders for licenses and organization, cultural creatives for the artistic displays, businesses leaders for funding, and church leaders/planters to lead the spiritual formation of the event.

It’s beautiful.  Seriously.

Check out this video of Bethlehem’s 2015 Christmas for the City event, and then don’t forget to read the rest of the article below.

Community Event Fundraiser

This idea is very similar to the above “Christmas for the City”, except instead of free admission with free activities, everything is for pay.  The goal, of course, is to raise money for other initiatives in the city – homeless shelters, family rebuilding, soup kitchens, etc.

You can do all the same kinds of activities as above – musical performances, art galleries, food & drink, craft workshops, booths, etc.

We remember the promised King appearing as a baby in a manger. #Jesus #Christmas Click To Tweet

Here is a pretty cool example of an event like this called “Christkindlmarkt“.

The great thing about a fundraiser in this vein is that it allows for all kinds of businesses, artists, artisans, and vendors to offer their product in a way that gives back to the community.

The downside, of course, is that while an event like this involves most of the community, it does not usually involve the homeless and poor in the city, simply because everything can get to be expensive at a fundraiser.

Christmas Donation Department Store

christmas giftsIn this outreach, people in the city donate toys, gifts, clothes, etc.  They are put into a warehouse-type building which is accessible to the community.  Then the homeless and poor can “shop”, picking out presents for their loved ones.

Donors can also give money, and the organizers then use that money to buy more to put on the shelves at the donation department store.

For the Community

As you put together ideas to serve your community during Christmastime, keep in mind that you cannot do it alone, nor should you.  Network with businesses, non-profits, artists, church leaders, other civic leaders.  Make it happen with your community.

And keep in mind that as we serve the needy, we are building treasures for ourselves in heaven – so be generous!

Show the love of Christ to all people, especially during this time which we remember the promised King appearing as a baby in a manger.

Glory to God, am I right?

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