Giving at Christmas Time
We all have hopes and dreams of our children growing up and changing the world and really making a mark for themselves out there…. why not start now? Even the smallest kiddo can truly make a difference! Why not help teach our children about giving at Christmas time?
There are many ways to instill a spirit of giving in your kiddos without spending a dime! Volunteering your time with Meals on Wheels or another senior center food-based program. You can deliver meals or possibly even help serve meals to people at the senior center. Another idea might be to go to a nursing home and sing Christmas carols or just spend time with the residents. You might even adopt a grandparent! It could be a rewarding relationship for the whole family. Time and a smile is really all that you need to make a huge difference! 🙂
What about having your children go through their toys, clothing, and books to donate? Great places to donate would be rape crisis centers, women’s shelters, or local thrift stores that resale for reasonable prices to the needy. You may also be able to find other great places to donate these items, especially if you keep your ears open for someone that perhaps has lost their home or possessions due to fire, flood, vandalism, or theft. Perhaps you know of a struggling family that could really use a surprise blessing!
Picking up trash can be an act of giving. If your children understand the impact of a trashy environment on local wildlife (squirrels, birds, fish, etc), then they might really make a connection with cleaning up their habitat to make life better for them! Choosing just about any public park or even around your own neighborhood could be a great way to give back and make the area a nicer place for everyone. 🙂 Picking up trash provides instant and noticeable gratification, too, which often helps with the little guys!
Many times, the recording libraries for the blind could use readers! I know that our local chapter is always seeking teens to read textbooks so that there are audio clips available for other local students that could use the services.
What about collecting recyclables and turning them in for cash? Kids can earn some extra money to be used towards charitable giving. Set a goal and let your kiddos loose! With the right kind of motivation (like choosing a special charity that they love or a particular gift they want to purchase), it’s amazing how efficient kids can be at getting things accomplished. They could even get their friends, class, or neighborhood involved! As a kid, I know that I was highly motivated and seemed to think I could do ANYTHING… kids today are no different! With a fire lit underneath them, they can do amazing things!
You might check and see if your community has some sort of “little brother” or “little sister” type of mentoring program. When I was in middle school, we had “little siblings” assigned to us at a local elementary school and we would go read to them once or twice a week. It helped at-risk kids to have someone to look up to and to just have a friendly, positive relationship with. What about having a story time at a local community center or even at a daycare?
Oftentimes, churches have excellent opportunities to teach children about giving. Operation Shoebox is a pretty common one. You basically fill a shoebox up with goodies for deployed troops. Another one is Samaritan’s Purse, which has you fill up shoeboxes with toys and toothbrushes or small gifts for poor children around the world. Other churches do some form of a food drive, sometimes with a local charity or sometimes through a food bank. Our church even has a program where we go out and hand water and snacks to shoppers at the mall during the busy holiday season. We open doors for them, help them out to the car with big packages, and basically just love on them with no strings attached during a time that might be stressful!
You could always provide a meal to a family in need, or send a random act of kindness in the mail (like a giftcard to the grocery store or mailing warm winter coats to a family in need anonymously). You could also get out as a family and go caroling, hand out cookies, or do yard work for free. If you live in an area with some snow, how about volunteering and helping out a neighbor in need to shovel ’em out? What about collecting canned goods, or coats, or unwrapped toys to give to charity? What about giving your children some change (or better yet, encouraging them to get out their own!) to put into the Salvation Army bucket when you walk into the store?
Do What You Can
I think children need to learn that helping others is extremely important and something that doesn’t have to be a huge time commitment. What they might find out is that they WANT to put in a huge time commitment because it feels so good to help others and can be SO fun in the process!
I’ll leave you with a great link to 5 Stories That Celebrate the Spirit of Giving.
What are your best ideas on how to teach kiddos about giving?