My church has sponsored a very successful program for the past several years. This program has multiple purposes.
1) To help our elderly members (70 and older) feel valued and remembered during the holidays.
2) To teach our younger children (as young as 3 and 4 years old all the way to the teenage years) the priceless value of ‘giving’ during the holidays
3) To develop life-long relationships between our younger and older generations within our church family.
Beginning just after Thanksgiving of each year, our younger group become SECRET PALS to the older group. (Each child/youth is given the name and information of a senior member. Many of them know who their senior is beforehand, but they really don’t ‘know’ them personally.) The young secret pal sneaks small gifts to their assigned senior once per week (usually through Sunday School Classes and Worship Services and through other people). These gifts are simple, inexpensive gifts such as gloves, scented candles, homemade goodies, a flash light, small decorative picture frames, a planning calendar, coffee mug, and miscellaneous trinkets, etc. Cards are sometimes sent as well through the mail. The seniors are beside themselves trying to figure out who their secret pal is. The kids are having fun sneaking the gifts to the seniors. It is fun for everyone!
At our church, the weekly gift giving continues until just before Valentine’s Day when the finale happens! A church wide banquet (We call the Secret Pal/Seniors Banquet) is held where the seniors are honored with a special place to sit and be waited on and served their food by the younger ages. We involve the entire church in elaborate Valentine decorations, place settings, entertainment, and of course the big revealing of the secret pals. The secret pals bring one final gift to their senior when the secret is revealed. At the banquet, individual pictures are taken of each senior with their pal. Soon thereafter, the photos are then posted on a bulletin board and copies are given to the seniors to keep and remember their pal.
This is a great way to bring the generations together and build unity within the church body.