Working with local agencies during a global pandemic has been fraught with challenges. An important question for volunteers and supporters has been, “How do we help others without taking a highly communicable virus to a largely at-risk community of volunteers and clients?” It hasn’t been easy, but one solution is to upcycle and recycle “trash” into usable gifts that would benefit the underserved. Then, donate those gifts to the agencies for sharing.
I founded A Place of Grace (APOG), which is a validated ministry of Giddings-Lovejoy Presbytery, in 2019. We work with seven local agencies to provide support for their ministries. When COVID-19 hit in March 2020, APOG’s twice-monthly, in-person Mission Madness retreats had to shift immediately to remote retreats. I made porch drops of materials and porch pick-ups of finished products so that the APOG Mission Madness team of 15 produced and delivered more than 3,300 gifts to these partner agencies to help provide support for their clients at the holidays.
Here is a list of gifts you can create using materials you might otherwise throw away:
Gift bows made from scrap wrapping or scrapbooking paper.
Upcycled Christmas cards, which can be created by cutting off the front of the card and adhering it to a folded piece of cardstock measured and cut to the appropriate size. Stamped messages on the inside paired with leftover envelopes or envelopes created from leftover wrapping paper to fit the cards can also be used.
Gift tags made from die- or fussy-cut Christmas cards that cannot be upcycled into a new card because of their structure.
Paper dolls, which make use of your smallest scrapbooking paper scraps for clothing, can be given to clients, therapists or teachers.
Knitted baby hats, booties, and mittens for newborns or small stuffed animals for infants and toddlers can be made from leftover yarn.
Pillows can be sewn from bandanas and stuffed with fiberfill.
Sleeping mats can be woven from plastic grocery bags and given to people experiencing homelessness.
Braided jump ropes can also be made for children from plastic grocery bags.
Chunky toys made from scrap wood fit
Recycled “cupcake” crayons for toddlers can be made from broken crayon pieces by melting them in cupcake liners in a mini-muffin pan.
Ziploc bags of travel-sized personal hygiene products can be collected for people experiencing homelessness, or gifted to an agency that offers showers for their
Most of these gifts can be created easily with scissors and glue or double-sided adhesive. Check with your local agencies to see who offers Christmas giveaways for their clientele. With a little effort and ingenuity, you can create delightful and environmentally friendly gifts at low to no cost that will help your community and inspire a passion for mission-giving as well!