Interested in doing some anonymous gifting? Want to help a friend or neighbor you know who is struggling a bit to keep food on the table, but want to gift anonymously? Here is a great way to Feed the Hungry and do so in a fun and unknown way!
Our second Christmas together, a year after our first anniversary, we were expecting twins.
It was a shock for sure when the ultrasound technician told us there was two in there, half-way through our pregnancy. We were still poor college students and had no clue how we’d afford twin babies, let alone much for Christmas gifts and decorations for each other or our home.
When we found a basket sitting on our front porch one snowy morning, five days before Christmas, containing a hand-knit scarf and hat, The Ultimate Gift on DVD, fresh apples and oranges, a ceramic angel, a tube of Tootsie Rolls, chocolate gold coins, popcorn, a Christmas bell, three boxes of Jell-O, body wash and body mist, and an envelope containing $220, we were in shock.
And extremely grateful.
This was the first of many anonymous gifts that we went on to receive over the coming years.
The next time we received a gift from a stranger, though not exactly anonymously, was at a very difficult time for our family. It was in November 2011, shortly before Thanksgiving.
At the beginning of that month, my husband was in a major car accident. He T-boned another vehicle that ran a red light in front of him, totaling our one and only vehicle, and breaking my husband’s sternum, leaving him unable to work for over a month.
Just a week or two after the accident, we were at Walmart, buying a few necessities that we needed at the time like groceries and an ink cartridge, when, as we went to pay for our purchases, the lady who checked out ahead of us, but had lingered around, jumped in and gave the cashier her credit card, saying she wanted to pay for our shopping trip.
She said we seemed like a nice family and wanted to pay it forward as someone had just paid it forward to her earlier that week at a restaurant. Our bill was almost $80.
I’m pretty sure it was the only time I have cried in a Walmart checkout line. She had no idea the hard time our family was going through, but she blessed us tremendously that day with her example of love and service to someone she didn’t even know.
The next month, we were blessed to receive 12 Days of Christmas gifts from a Secret Santa. Each day we were blessed with little gifts and presents for us and our young toddler twins. It was so much fun to receive and was another boost to our spirits at that rough time in our lives.
For Valentine’s Day, a few months later, we also received another gift anonymously at our door! We had a Secret Valentine who dropped off a giant blue tub full of everyday things we needed and used including toiletries, personal care items, paper products, diapers, laundry detergent, and more!
Do you know how expensive it is to buy all those regular household items? Super expensive! We used those products for months to come and were so thankful for such an awesome and totally useful gift! It freed up space in our budget and helped us pay all of our bills.
We didn’t receive our next anonymous gift until February 2016.
This time it was again at the checkout of the grocery store.
The young lady in line in front of us had quietly asked the cashier for a $25 store gift card to be applied to our order, and then slipped away. It was an amazing gesture of kindness from her (who I later saw at the gym and personally thanked and talked to about her generosity) to our family.
But, this time, it wasn’t such a grand blessing in our life.
Twenty-five dollars didn’t make or break our family grocery budget like it might have in our early years of our marriage, when that $25 would have meant everything. Everything.
This time, in 2016, we were finally financially sound. We were finally out of our season of receiving and need, and moving forward into a season of giving.
Our family has been richly blessed by amazing family, friends, church members, and anonymous gifters throughout our nine years of marriage. From people giving us free furniture and appliances, to giving us rides, to letting us do laundry in their homes, to inviting us to activities and events with them, to feeding us meals in their homes, to offering free babysitting, to loaning us vehicles when ours was totaled, to throwing baby showers and more, we have received so much.
And I assure you, we never forgot any of those kind gestures.
They truly and deeply meant the world to us.
I’m not one who’s particularly good at expressing emotions or expressing the gratitude I truly feel, but it’s there. And these individuals are forever part of our family history, our family story of getting through some hard times.
Is there any wonder that now that my husband and I are not living paycheck to paycheck, we look for ways to give back? To pay it forward? To give anonymously to friends and strangers?
We love giving service as a family especially around the Holidays (though we do so as often as we can during the year too).
This year we learned of a few families from our church who were struggling financially, and we wanted to help them, particularly to make sure they would have enough food for the holidays. So I partnered with Boncom to help bring some anonymous love to these individuals.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints runs a great Christmas initiative called #LightTheWorld where every day of December they challenge individuals to give service in one of 25 ways that the Savior gave service over the course of 25 days.
This coming Thursday, December 21, they are focusing on Jesus’ teaching found in Matthew 25:35 “For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat.”
A person can experience spiritual hunger as well as physical hunger. As Jesus did, we can offer people both kinds of nourishment.
Last year for our homeschool co-op’s service project, we created Blessing Bags for the Homeless, which was a great way to serve those who are hungry.
Some of the ideas suggested for how to Feed the Hungry is to donate nonperishable food items to a local food bank, cook a meal for a neighbor or friend in need or invite someone over for dinner. Or to simply share a spiritually uplifting message with someone who hungers for peace and hope and truth.
Our family decided to do some anonymous gifting of foods and H-E-B gift cards.
We invited the Sister Missionaries to help us with this project (as my husband is the new Ward Mission Leader).
We put together three gift baskets, each containing:
- Sparkling grape juice
- 5lb bag of oranges
- Andes Mints
- Sugar cookie mix
- A mug of large chocolate-dipped marshmallows and spoons for putting in hot chocolate
- $100 H-E-B gift card
We then wrapped each basket in some clear snowflake wrapping paper/cellophane and tied it with a string.
For one of the families, we also purchased three floor lamps and light bulbs as their apartment is very dark at night and we knew they could use them. Plus, lamps are a great #LightTheWorld gift.
Next came the fun part when we went to drop off each basket a couple nights later!
The missionaries joined us in our car and we dropped off each basket, all with some excitement and nerves as we had to stealthily figure out how to drop off the basket, unseen, and knock on the door, run to the car, get in, and pull away without them seeing or recognizing us. Thankfully, it was a foggy night when we went to drop off our baskets.
However, one family was outside when we drove past the first time, so we had to come back later to gift them theirs.
Another house had a gate (thankfully open) and an open inner front door, with people sitting watching TV just inside the glass screen door, which made it super tricky!
The Sisters were our runners and they loved the thrill of being sneaky and doing the service. Our kids got quite the kick out of it too.
My daughter told me that her favorite part of the evening was doing service. Which is exactly what it should be.
I love that this time of year encourages generosity and charity, which I believe are exactly what Christ would love to see done in honor of his birth into this world.
I strongly encourage you to find a way to feed the hungry in whatever way you can this Thursday (and beyond!). Making sure others have food is such a basic necessity and one that should never be overlooked.