Thursday, December 6, 2012

Charitable Giving (and Another Cookie Recipe!)

'Tis the season to load up on gifts for the whole family, but my husband and I think it's equally important to load up on gifts for those who cannot afford them.  I can't imagine how sad it would be for a child to get nothing for Christmas.  It's heartbreaking to think about, but each year we do as much as our budget allows to help others.  While I love to buy for my own children, it really is a special experience to buy for those you don't even know.  

This year we are doing our book family service project.  We ended up purchasing around 60 books and I am very excited about all of the children who will get a new book to call their own.  We will also be donating new toys to Toys for Tots.  I think this is a great program and so "user-friendly," so to speak, because there are drop sites everywhere.  I ordered some items online, but found some great deals on games at Target today that I couldn't pass up.  I hear they are in need of items for older kids, so it's a great opportunity to get some fun games at a good price for that age group.

This year, for the first time, we will be giving some donations as a gift.   Feeding America has a program where you can buy specific foods, so that's what we plan to do.  If you would just like to donate money, though, today your dollar equals three, because for every dollar you donate, Bank of America will donate two more.  What a great way to make your donation go further!  My mother-in-law is buying a goat for all of the grandchildren this year.  A goat, you say?  She is purchasing a goat for a family in Africa.  They can then have milk, cheese, and yogurt.  I think it's a cool lesson for our kiddos!

There are other ways to help out in your community as well.  A teen group at our church and another youth program were in need of cookies for bake sales to raise money for their causes, so given my love to bake, I happily contributed to those!  There's always the Salvation Army bell ringers, too.  My kids love to put money in those pots!  Just hop online and I'm sure you'll find plenty of opportunities for your family to participate in this holiday season and beyond if you so desire.

As promised, I'll include another cookie recipe.  This one is new for me this year.  I made a practice batch last week and tweaked it a bit to make it a little tastier in my opinion.  They may not be the prettiest cookie in the world, but they are yummy!  One of my baking tips:  I always use parchment paper to cover my cookie sheets when baking.  Much less mess to clean up!

Hershey Kiss Surprise
Adapted from the recipe found on the Dip it in Chocolate blog

1/4 c. butter
1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 can sweeten condensed milk
2 cups flour
1 t. vanilla
Hershey mini kisses (found in baking aisle with chocolate chips)
Powdered sugar
*in lieu of powdered sugar, you can drizzle chocolate on top instead

In microwave, melt butter and semi-sweet chocolate chips.  Cook at 30 second intervals on 60% power stirring each time, until melted and smooth.  Stir in can of sweetened condensed milk.  Add flour and vanilla to make a stiff dough.  Shape 1 level tablespoon around two mini kisses, rolling into a ball.  Roll in powdered sugar.  Bake at 350 degrees for 7-9 minutes.  Cookies may crack on top to indicate they are done, but may not always.  Don't overcook!


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