Charitable giving is an important part of child-rearing, in my opinion, and I believe all children need to learn the significance of giving back. The holiday season is the perfect time to begin these lessons and BONUS! – the whole family can get involved.
The best thing about giving back and charitable giving is that it doesn’t have an age limit. You can start as young as you want. For example, Miss E is almost three. While she doesn’t understand the financial situations of others, she can understand the concept of being nice and sharing. So I have her help me put money in the Salvation Army buckets outside the grocery stores. She loves the ringing bell and can easily recognize that “those are the people who help other people”. She can also help me pick out a toy for us to put in the local Toys for Tots barrel. I simply ask her what toy she might want and we get an extra.
If your kids are pre-school or elementary age, consider adopting a family through your local Angel Tree program. Children will learn to empathize with others and appreciate that they get toys for the holidays while others do not. They can then come shopping with you at Target or Walmart and help pick out all the presents for a local family. I plan on doing this with Mr. A this year. I think he’ll really get into it.
With middle and high school kids, you can consider going to your local shelter and serving food to the homeless or pack up meals at your local food bank. The opportunities are really endless. Hold a family meeting and go over organizations or causes that have meaning to your family and pick something that you can all do together.
It’s important for kids to know that time can be just as valuable as money. Whether your family writes a few checks to their favorite charities or volunteers with a local group, the lesson is the same. I’m a giver by nature. I volunteer, as well as donate money to a few key organizations and I want my children to grow up doing the same.
Children as well as adults can easily turn the holidays into a time to take things for granted, but using it as a teachable moment will ensure a great lesson for your children and a great memory for your family.
Looking for a local charity to work with? Check out Charity Navigator