Christmastime is known for a lot of things: the smell of Christmas trees; bright strings of lights hung from rooftops; white snow on the sidewalk—and, of course, presents. Although getting Christmas presents is certainly fun, giving them can be much more rewarding, especially when you’re giving to children in need. If you’re looking for some extra ways to give this Christmas, check out these four charities that are experts at helping children.
UNICEF may be known best for its Halloween trick-or-treating boxes, but this world-renowned children’s relief organization has some great Christmas initiatives, too. The charity’s UNICEF Inspired Gifts page allows you to buy items like mosquito nets, blankets, and vaccines on behalf of children in needs across the globe; the page offers items in every category from immunization to maternal care. Another way to give is through the UNICEF Market, which sells jewelry, home items, and accessories, and gives a portion of the proceeds from all sales to help children in need. There’s also the UNICEF Kid Power Band, which is essentially a wrist-worn step counter for kids—but every time the band’s wearer hits certain step milestones, UNICEF donates food to children in need.
Syrian Children’s Relief Fund
Save the Children isn’t an explicitly Christmas-oriented organization, but it is Christmas-appropriate: Currently, one of the charity’s biggest goals is to help the refugee children who have recently been displaced in Aleppo. A donation to the Syrian Children’s Relief Fund through Save the Children goes towards on-the-ground efforts in Syria that serve refugee communities, providing orphans and children with necessities like clean water, clothes, shelter, medical services, and other emergency care.
USPS Operation Santa
On the other hand, USPS Operation Santa is an explicitly Christmas-oriented program, just as its name would imply. The program was started in 1912, when Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock, seeing the high volume of letters to Santa that the USPS was receiving, authorized local Postmasters to read the letters and respond to them. Today, individuals and organizations alike continue the 1912 General Postmaster’s work by going to participating Operation Santa Post Offices, adopting one or more letters written by children in need, buying the wish list items from the letter, and returning the wrapped gifts to the Post Office so they can be sent to the children.
Samaritan’s Purse—Operation Christmas Child
Operation Christmas Child, a Christmas-specific service endeavor housed under the larger non-denominational organization Samaritan’s Purse, takes a slightly more Christian-oriented bent to its service. Operation Christmas Child invites givers to pack a shoe-box for a child in need—buyers need only get an average-sized shoe-box and fill it with gifts for a boy or girl in one of the charity’s designated age ranges (2-4, 5-9, or 10-14). Buyers are also invited to pray for the child who will receive their shoe-box and to include a photo of themselves and a note to the child if desired. The shoe-box is then sent to the child for them to open on Christmas morning.