Our ward had several needy families, but we were concerned about how to best provide for them confidentially. If we suggested gifts for ward members to buy, we ran the risk of the families being embarassed or humiliated by wearing or using the items given. They might even receive things that were unusable or inappropriate for their family situation. There was a concern that cash donations might be used to buy illegal drugs instead of family necessities. And how could we involve everyone in the ward, regardless of their age or financial circumstance?
After discussion in welfare meeting, we decided to ask for cash donations to the bishopric, who would then buy gift cards to local superstores so families could buy the things that would best suit their family’s circumstance. We chose to ask for donation amounts from $0.50 all the way up to $100.00 so that everyone could participate. Even Primary-age children were invited to earn money to donate to those who needed help.
Our activities committee set up a basket in the foyer of the chapel with paper Christmas ornaments that had dollar amounts written on them. We explained to church members the purpose of the donations and that they were totally voluntary, ie not tithes or fast offerings. Funds were donated by tithing slips in the “other” category.
The activity was very successful! My children even saved and worked to earn money to donate. So much money was generated that we were able to help the needy families in our ward, plus the Inner City Mission and our local food bank.