Tag Archives: Give Back

12 Days of Learning | Day 5: Give Back & Help Others

5 Dec

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The holiday season is a great time for your family to give back and help others. Family activities focused on helping others provide a positive example for your children and will help teach them about gratitude and charity. As we shared in our recent charity blog post, giving to others benefits people’s health and overall life satisfaction.

If you have young children, it’s important to first teach them the basic concepts of sharing, giving, and helping others. Once children understand these concepts, you can start explaining why some people and organizations need help. As your children age, encourage them to become more involved in family charity projects or to come up with their own charity project. You should also encourage older children to volunteer or find a way to include charity in their schoolwork. A 2010 survey found that parents are the biggest influence on a teenager’s charitable giving, so it is important to include charitable activities in your family’s holiday plans.

The holiday season provides numerous opportunities for your family to help others. The iconic Salvation Army bell ringers and red donation buckets, for example, are in front of most of the stores you will purchase groceries and gifts from this holiday season. Set a good example for your kids by donating any spare change or dollar bills you have and then encourage your children to do the same with their spare change. A number of families specifically give their young children a dollar bill or some spare change to place in the red buckets because it gives them an opportunity to practice charity. Here are some other ways your family can give back and help others this holiday season:

1. Donate new or gently-used items. Go through your family’s closets and donate any gently-used items you don’t wear anymore to homeless shelters, the Salvation Army, or Goodwill. Food banks also run low on food at this time of the year, so donate any extra items you have in your pantry or purchase canned food items at the grocery store to donate. Many schools have canned food drives this time of the year, which is a good way for your family to give back and get involved with your child’s school. Donating blood to the American Red Cross is another great way for parents and teens (17+ in most states) to give back. Keep in mind that many charities also accept monetary donations if your family wants to have a fundraiser for a specific charity or the charity your family wants to help is in another city or state.

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2. Volunteer your time. Volunteering is a simple and inexpensive way for your family to give back to the community. Find a charity to volunteer at as a family or encourage your older children to volunteer at a charity related to their interests throughout the year. Children who like animals, for example, may want to volunteer at an animal shelter, veterinarian’s office, or pet adoption fair. If your children like sports, encourage them to play a game for charity or volunteer to help coach a recreation sports team. Other places your family or children can volunteer include libraries, soup kitchens, nursing homes, hospitals, and senior centers.

3. Host a holiday charity party. Parties are a great way to include charity in your family’s holiday plans, and both children and adults can have a fun time at charity parties.  Ask guests to make a donation for your family’s favorite charity in lieu of a host or hostess gift, for example, or give the party a charity theme by asking guests to help you make packages to send to soldiers overseas. Making treat bags for the elderly, filling shoeboxes to send to children overseas, or purchasing and wrapping gifts for local families in need are other possible themes and activities for your family’s holiday charity party. This could even become an annual party your family hosts with a different theme and supported charity each year.

4. Make a special delivery. Allowing your children to see what their help means to people in need is a great way to reinforce the value of charity. Have your children deliver cookies and other holiday treats to the elderly or ask if your family can deliver the gifts you bought for a family in need. Asking children to read a holiday story to someone who is not able to read anymore is another way your children can experience the effect of charity. Other ideas include taking your children with you when you drop off any donations and letting them put any cards or packages intended for soldiers or people in need in the mail. Being a part of the delivery will make the experience more memorable for children and will help them increase their understanding of how charity works.

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Many families put a special focus on charity during the holidays, but remember that it’s important for your family to reinforce the value of charity throughout the year. Read our Five Ways to Encourage Charity blog post for even more ideas on how your family can give back and help others.

Check back tomorrow for Day 6 of our 12 Days of Learning!

Happy Holidays!

Five Ways to Encourage Charity and Help Kids Give Back

26 Nov

The commercialization of the holiday season can make it easy to forget that the holidays are supposed to be about giving instead of receiving.  Many children are so focused on the gifts they receive that parents often question whether their children are too self-absorbed to realize that they should be grateful for what they have in their lives. One way to help children be more grateful and understand the true meaning of the holiday season is to teach them about charity.KT_encourageChairity

Importance of Raising Charitable Kids

We discussed the importance of raising a grateful child in a previous blog post, but it is also important to teach children about charity because the two topics are deeply intertwined. People are more likely to be charitable if they are grateful, but being charitable can also cause people to develop an increased gratitude for what they have in life.

In a study recently published in PLoS ONE, researchers from the University of British Columbia found that giving to others makes children happier than when they receive something. The study also found that children who sacrificed something of their own gained more happiness than children who gave something that did not cost them anything. This suggests that children have a natural, genuine concern for others and can benefit from being charitable at a young age.

Learning to be charitable as a child will also help children experience the benefits of giving to others when they become adults. As reported by Maia Szalavitz in Time, volunteering regularly can decrease early mortality rates by 22%, reduce chances of depression, and increase a person’s life satisfaction and happiness. These scientific findings prove that encouraging children to volunteer and help others at an early age will help them live longer and happier lives.

Five Ways to Encourage Charity

Teaching kids to give back and help others isn’t always easy, especially if your family is pressed for time, but the benefits your family gains from helping others will be well worth any scheduling conflicts you have to conquer. The following five tips are great ways for you to encourage charity and help your kids and family give back to the community:

1. Be a good role model.

If you want your children to be charitable, it’s important for you to set a positive example for them to follow. This doesn’t mean you have to head a fundraising committee or spend a lot of hours volunteering; small and simple charitable acts can have just as much of an impact on children as the larger ones. Giving any spare change you have, donating gently used items, or buying extra food to take to your local food bank are all great ways to show your child that you think helping others is important.

2. Talk to your children about charity.

Have a greater impact with children by making an effort to talk to them about charity in conjunction with being a good role model. Women Give 2013, a study by the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University, found that “talking to children about charity has a greater impact on children’s giving than role modeling alone.” The study also found that talking to children about charity and helping others is “equally effective” regardless of the parent’s income level or the child’s gender, race, and age. Encourage discussions about charity at the dinner table or after children do something charitable. It’s better to give them an explanation of why what they’re doing matters instead of just telling them that they need to do it. Reading books, such as The Lion and the Mouse and the books in our Learn to Get Along Book Set, can also help you and your kids discuss the importance of helping others.

3. Make giving to others a family tradition.

Making charity a family tradition will help your children feel more comfortable volunteering and will also provide additional opportunities for you to be a good role model for your kids. One popular tradition for many families this time of the year is to volunteer at soup kitchens, homeless shelters, or food banks. These types of volunteer experiences are good for older children, but you may want to consider other ways to give back if you have young children. In a recent article, CNBC’s Kelley Holland reports that families with young children should skip volunteering at soup kitchens because kids do not learn as much from the experience since they cannot help serve hot food or be around stoves and knives. Volunteering at toy drives or delivering fruit baskets and gifts to hospitals and the elderly may be more appropriate charitable family traditions when your children are younger.

4. Come up with creative ways to give back.

You don’t have to volunteer in soup kitchens or serve the homeless a Thanksgiving meal in order to be charitable. Donating gifts for Toys for Tots or for the Salvation Army Angel Tree are great ways for your family to give back this time of the year. You can also make giving back a little more personal for your kids by having them create their own projects or make their own greeting cards to send to soldiers or the elderly. Many charities have a spike in volunteers during November and December, so try to think of places that may not be getting the volunteers they need this time of the year. If an organization has all the help they need right now, it’s best for you to find a charity truly in need of the help your family can give.

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5. Pick charity projects that your kids and family will enjoy.

Strive to pick charity projects that let your children see how their actions truly impact and help others because the concrete evidence they gain from those experiences will help reinforce the value of charity. Your family will enjoy and learn more from the projects they can connect with, so try to find projects that match your family’s interests, hobbies, and charitable causes. Another idea is for your family to come up with your own unique project to help meet an unmet need in the community. If your family is really busy during the holiday season, then come up with charity projects you can do together as a family at other times of the year. Try donating food items during the summer months, playing a baseball game for charity, or running a 5K race as a family to benefit an important cause. Remember that it’s always a good idea to encourage your children to be charitable and give back throughout the year.

References

Aknin, Lara B., J. Kiley Hamlin, and Elizabeth W. Dunn. “Giving Leads to Happiness in Young Children.” PLoS ONE. PLoS ONE 7.6 (2012): 3. PDF file. 18 Nov. 2013.

Holland, Kelley. “Teaching kids charity? Skip the soup kitchen trip.” CNBC. CNBC LLC, 18 Oct. 2013. Web. 15 Nov. 2013.

Szalavitz, Maia. “Helping Others Helps You to Live Longer.” Time. Dow Jones & Company, Inc., 23 Aug. 2013. Web. 15 Nov. 2013.

“Women Give 2013: New Research on Charitable Giving by Girls and Boys.” Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, 2013. PDF file. 15 Nov. 2013.

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