"How do I determine who should get my Christmas Jar?"
This is the most common question I hear this time of year. Every single day someone comments that they have a jar ready to give, but don't know how to find the right recipient.
My family has given away several jars since first experimenting with the tradition in 2004. Every year has been a little different.
2004: We gave our jar to a young man leaving the country to do volunteer church work.
2005: We mailed our jar to a family suffering the loss of a loved one.
2006: We gave our jar to a father and his young children who'd recently lost their mother.
2007: We gave our jar to a trucker at a truck stop on Christmas Eve.
2008: We gave our jar to a family who days earlier had lost their father.
Each situation was a little different. In 2006, 2007 and 2008, we didn't even know the families who received our jars. We simply asked friends if they knew of others in need.
As I like to say, there is no right way or wrong way to give a jar away. Sometimes the need is financial, sometimes it's emotional, sometimes it's spiritual. This year if you're struggling to find someone worthy, you might try some of these ideas:
-Watch your local paper for stories about house fires or car accidents.
-Read your local obituaries.
-Walk into the pediatric wing of your local hospital.
-Ask your pastor or other church leaders if they know of someone with a special need.
-Ask your boss or supervisor in confidence if they know someone with a special need.
-Ask teachers or principals if there are special needs with a particular teacher or family.
-Hand your jar to someone in a parking lot who looks as if the jar could bless their life.
-Give your jar to the director of a homeless shelter, women's shelter or other non-profit organization.
Also, remember that while many people give their jars on Christmas Eve, there is no wrong time to deliver yours. Let the magic of the jar guide you!
Finally, when in doubt, pray for the right recipient. There's no doubt you'll find the perfect person to bless.
(Do you have an idea? Feel free to leave it in the comments below.)