Teaching Charity

by Heligirl on December 5, 2011

in Mom Tip Monday,Parenting Articles

Is it just me, making every penny count and trying to instill a sense of meaning for the holidays into my kids, or is holiday shopping getting more stressful than just fighting crowds? What about charity?

Everywhere I turn there are products, sales, campaigns (Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday, etc.) urging me to support another sector of the retail industry, e-mails from brands wanting me to write about their products for holiday shopping, and yet more ads than I can dodge.

What about the meaning of the season? Does giving really have to be all about buying stuff and giving it to someone else who probably doesn’t really need anything? With so many people out of work, charities scraping the bottoms of their coffers and folks going hungry, how about we give away meals to those who need them instead? Or at least in addition?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I have gotten a few gifts for the kids, but most of it are things they’ll need or I’d have provided anyway (next size of shoes with their favorite character they pointed out a few months back, paints for their art projects, ice skating lessons for my little girl who asks to learn to skate every day since seeing Toy Story 3 on ice, etc.) Basically stuff that is really wanted or needed and won’t end up collecting dust in two months’ time.

But once that was done, I really wanted to find something I could do with the kids that shared the giving spirit that we could afford and would make an impression on the kids.

At 4 and 2, what could they do?

Then my little girl saw a line of people outside the food bank and asked what they were doing, waiting for the bus?

Bingo, my opening.

I sat down with the kids and talked about how some people are hungry and need food.

“Those people were standing in line waiting for food. We’re very lucky that we can buy food. Some people aren’t so lucky. Let’s do something for them. Let’s buy them some food to help. Do you want to go to the grocery store and all we’ll buy today is food we will donate to the food bank?”

My little dude didn’t get it, but my little girl was into it.

I set a budget of a typical weekly grocery bill and off we went.

They kids picked out good shelf life items like cereals, canned goods, rice, pasta, and even cookies (“because they get one too if they eat all their supper, right?”)

Once we finished and paid (it was a little embarrassing they were telling the checker the food was for the hungry because I really don’t like to draw attention), we headed down to the food bank a few blocks away. The checker offered to deliver the food as they did have a bin right there, but it was more important to me to have the kids deliver it.

Once there, they helped me carry in the bags and give them to the volunteers. Though my daughter thought the person taking our bags was the person we were feeding. We had to explain she was a helper and would make sure the food got to people who needed it.

It felt so great that we later did the same for Toys for Tots, going to the toy store to choose one present for each of them to give to the sexy Marine collecting toys that day (OK, mommy really liked that too).

Now, while the kids felt the kids they were shopping for would absolutely love the new Star Wars Lego set (as I’m sure they would at $67 each), we were able to find some toys that would be fun and not over the top extravagant.

This was the first year I included the kids in our charitable giving and what a great experience. While I still feel overwhelmed with the pressure to buy things, setting a limit of what we’d buy for family as well as goals for our charitable giving has helped me feel less overwhelmed and more in the holiday spirit.

Today’s Tip: Include the kids in charitable giving activities.


Susan December 5, 2011 at 6:24 pm

Absolutely fantastic!! I love that Sweetness was old enough to get it. My son, 9, still would have trouble buying toys to give away (even to kids in need).

Susan recently posted: A Clairvoyant Moment

Christopher Campbell December 6, 2011 at 12:53 am

That is a very good gesture of yours. I really love the idea of teaching kids the important things and getting them involved in charity work is really a good way of doing it.

I hope that the two activities will make a lasting impression to your kids.
Christopher Campbell recently posted: Feel Good Friday: Green Holiday Gifts

Twitter: Heligirl
December 6, 2011 at 8:22 am

Thanks Susan. It was a great experience. 🙂
Heligirl recently posted: Teaching Charity

SharleneT December 7, 2011 at 11:55 am

Thank you, from the older generation! My step-grandson remarked that he had had a birthday a few months back and I said I sent him wishes and a card. He said you didn’t buy me anything… I said, “You didn’t so much as give me a birthday wish on FB, when it was mine. There’s no law that says we’re required to give gifts. You’re way over 21 and should realize that it’s not all about you receiving gifts or well wishes; you have to reciprocate, as well.” Too many young people don’t seem to understand that it’s thinking about others that fills the heart with warmth. And, don’t get me started on the ones who tell you how much to spend on their gifts! Great job.
SharleneT recently posted: Solar Baked Fudge – an Easy Holiday Treat

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