Did your family ever volunteer with a charity such as a soup kitchen, homeless or battered women’s shelter during the holidays? Or perhaps were your ancestors involved with church groups that assisted others during the holiday?
In the 1950s and 1960s most charity work was done by the church or organizations like the Red Cross, Salvation Army or Community Chest. People then seemed to have fewer expectations of charity and were much more reluctant to ask for help. We did always make monitery donations but I don't remember any personal committments.
In the 1970s, our church began offering the chance to sponsor a family for the holidays. They would list family A,B,C etc and list person number 1,2,3 and anyone could choose one. If you choose for instance family B number 4 your slip of paper might say boy age 8, shirt size 10 pants size 8 and toy trucks. It was your option to supply one or all of the items. In our church, I am proud to say that all of the people were taken. We also had a mitten tree to supply hats and mittens to the needy in our northern Illinois area. That was also very well supported.
Today the Angel Tree tradition continues with our church in Texas. My grandchildren happily forego a gift every year to provide a gift to someone more in need. This is how compassion is learned.