Welcome to our Online Advent Calendar series, where we’re doing 25 days of Christmas challenges to get everyone into the spirit!

Give a toy to a child who truly needs one.

I know, it seems early, but a lot of toy drives are ending this week to give the volunteers time to collect, sort and deliver the gifts by Christmas.

Let’s hustle!

Grab a friend, a squeeze or some crazy kids; donate a toy; and go out for hot chocolate or something. Make a date of it! There’s no rule that giving can’t be fun.

And, if for any reason you can’t give a toy this year, it’s OK. A lot of us have been there. The first Sunday of Advent is traditionally set aside for Hope, and I can’t think of a better time to pray for the world’s children. For, as Whitney Houston (and many “American Idol” contestants since) once sang, the children are our future.

Looking for more ideas? You could …

  • Drop off a new, unwrapped toy for Toys for Tots. (To find your local drop-off sites, click this link, enter you state and county, and then click “Toy Drop-Offs” at the top of the page. ) You can also donate money online through Dec. 24.
  • Adopt an Angel from the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree.
  • Ask your friends and co-workers if they know a family having a hard time this Christmas. Then anonymously send (or be sneaky about delivering) a present “from Santa.”
  • See if a local children’s hospital, doctor’s office, daycare, shelter or church nursery needs toys. (And ask what they’re looking for.)
  • Send a stuffed animal or small blanket to the My Stuff Bags Foundation for children in shelters and foster care.
  • Take a gently used toy to Goodwill or the Salvation Army.
  • Donate online to a children’s organization like the Ronald McDonald House or St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.
  • Stop by a Jack in the Box, and buy a Nutcracker Jack ornament for $1, plus tax, to benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Are you donating a toy this Christmas? Did you make it fun? I’d love to hear all about it.

Selected Christmas TV:

  • Elf (6pm/5c, ABC Family)
  • The Christmas Gift (7pm/6c, Hallmark)
  • Toy Story That Time Forgot (8pm/7c, ABC Family)
  • A Charlie Brown Christmas (8:30pm/7:30c, ABC)
  • The Christmas Heart (9pm/8c, Hallmark)

P.S. To see the Advent calendar page, go to ezrapoundcake.com/advent.