I just read somewhere—sorry can’t remember where so you’ll have to trust me on this—that Americans spend a total of $185,000 on stamps for letters to Santa. Let’s think about that for a minute. So an average household with young children spends a few cents each year on these letters to Santa. That’s what we call sofa change.

Now I know that the post office needs the cash to support its operations and that this money is important revenue for them. Having said that, I can think of a lot of charities, families, and poverty-stricken kids who could use a fraction of that 185 grand. According to the US Census Bureau, in 2008 14.1 million American children lived below the poverty level. Without debate as to what is considered poverty, whether compared to other Americans or the rest of the world, the fact is that kids living in our communities are suffering.

So let’s do some math. $185,000 divided by 44¢ equals approximately 450,500 stamps (or letters). If all of the 14.1 million poor kids were to receive a holiday gift that costs approximately $13 (maybe some shoes, a coat, a toy), than we would need to multiply that postage cost by about 1,000. It may seem like a lot, but if everyone gave, not just those with little kids, then we could make a difference (albeit small) in a child’s life this season.

So, here is what I would suggest. Just some things you may want to think about this season.

  • Drop a dollar into the Salvation Army bucket outside the supermarket. It’s only a dollar to you, but it could add up if everyone gives. Or make an online donation right now.
  • Don’t put a stamp on that letter to Santa. Instead, ask your child to put part of his allowance toward a charity so some other child could get a gift.
  • Take one of the many toys meant for your child and give it to the Marines, or the Salvation Army, or the church near your house, or any of the charities that help kids and families who are struggling.
  • Buy a few extra cans of food at the supermarket next time you go and donate them to a shelter.

There are many things that all of us can do that cost so little but could add up to so much. So go ahead and look in your sofa cushions, you need to clean up for the in-laws anyway, right? May your holidays be filled with grace and generosity.

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