Whether you are a mother or father, a grandparent, a caregiver, an educator, or a family support professional, teaching the children you care about to care for others is one of the most valuable lessons they will ever learn. Here are some great ways to get started this holiday season!
- Volunteer: From serving food at a soup kitchen to walking dogs at your local shelter, volunteering your time and energy is the best way to show children what it really means to give back. Have children help you pick a charity or organization to support and talk together about what you can do to help! Guidestar.org and charitywatch.org are great places to find a worthy cause.
- Donate with Purpose: Don’t just donate your money, bring kids in on the process!
– Ask children if they want to donate part of their allowance to a charity of their choosing and talk about how the money will be used.
– Help kids plan a fundraising event of their own to raise money for a charity they want to support. It can be as big as a school-wide book drive or as small as a cocoa and cookies sale for your family members.
– Collect items to donate, such as warm coats, school supplies, or food, so kids can tangibly see and understand what they are giving people in need.
- Craft for a Cause: Whether it is men and women in our armed forces, people in hospitals or assisted living with no family, or children waiting to be adopted, there are thousands of people who never receive a holiday greeting. Surprise them by making something especially for them! Have younger children draw and decorate cards for any holiday or celebration, any time of the year! Older children can pick a more complicated craft, or a yummy treat to bake. Choose a group and spread a little homemade cheer!
- Share your Celebrations: Even if you don’t celebrate a holiday this time of year, it can be hard to be alone amid the constant barrage of familial celebration. Invite a lonesome neighbor, co-worker, or family friend to a dinner or a family celebration. Talk with your children about why you are inviting someone to join your family and about how sharing our lives with others can create joy.
- Extend Your Family: One of my favorite traditions growing up was to help another family in need by buying them gifts from their “wish lists.” Many non-profit and business organizations collect and provide such wish lists for community members to fulfill this time of year. Buy presents for a whole family, or a single child. This is another great activity to do with children. Talk about who the gifts are for, let them help pick out items and wrap gifts together. Do a local search to find a family in your area and really bring the meaning home.
These are only a few ideas for giving back to your community this season. Please share your ideas and traditions for giving back!