This question presupposes that giving is a matter of material things. We think that if you are poor, you can't give, but this is so wrong. Giving has so many forms that are accessible to people of all ages and economic situations. In fact, much can be learned from the way in which people in so-called "poor" countries give generously.
This month I challenged myself and my family to do an intentional act of giving each day. Most of these do not require having a bi-weekly or monthly salary. Giving begins in the heart. When the heart practices giving even when money is tight, that heart will be ready to give to an even greater extent when circumstances turn around.
Check out some of the ideas we came up with:
- Do a chore at home that is not really your job. Do not draw attention to it.
- Think about a duplicate of something you own and find a way to give your extra one to someone who has none. (Inspired by John the Baptist's advice in Luke 3:11
- Find something in your closet that you have not worn or used for 6 months or more and give it to a centre that ministers to refugees.
- Re-gift something that you've received but do not use.
- Gather all the change in your house. Put it in an envelope and then leave it in the mailbox of a neighbour, who you think could use it.
- Create a coupon offering to use a talent or ability and give it to someone else.
- Give a little more than usual to the Sunday offering. Think about the people who are benefiting from the offering and pray for them.
- Spend the equivalent of what you spend on milk (or some other thing you always need in the house) on non-perishable food and donate to a food bank.
- Give a compliment to someone you meet.
- Call a family member or friend on the telephone who you have not seen in a while. Listen to how their day was. If it is a local call on your land line, it is free.
- You have probably "stolen" a pen from a public space at least once in your life. Plant to deliberately leave a pen somewhere that people are likely to need one.
- Give away an orange.
- Give a thank you note to someone who does a thankless job.
- When you prepare a snack today, make a second one to give to a co-worker, classmate or family member.
- Give part of your lunch break to pray for or with someone.
- Lend a helping hand by carrying something for someone or opening a door for someone.
- Write an encouraging Bible verse on a small card and leave it somewhere for someone to find.
- Offer someone a ride or give someone a bus ticket.
- Pick up two pieces of trash you see lying around indoors or outdoors and put them in the right place.
- Lend a book you've enjoyed to someone else, and don't expect to get it back.
- Give time to someone by playing a game or listening to a song together.
- Scrape someone else's windshield or shovel someone else's driveway.
- Give a music CD you've enjoyed to another person you think might also enjoy it.
- Drop off a small care package for a person who has to work on Christmas Day (hospital, nursing home, public works)
- Leave a box of tissues in a place where people outside of your family might need them.
- Make a hygiene kit or two for someone in need. Bring it to a local community centre for distribution.
- Give away any partial gift cards you have.
- Give a mug with a surprise inside to someone in your neighbourhood.
- Invite someone over for lunch, dinner or dessert.
- Make something (a card, baked goods, or a craft) and give it to someone.
- Take a picture and send it to someone electronically or in the mail.
If you have other ideas about how to give, I'd love to hear them.