If there is one upside of recent devastation, it's teaching your children and the younger generation about the importance of giving and helping those in need. As of late, our televisions have been flooded with images of people in distress, nations in unrest, and children and families in need across the globe. As Mr. President #1 grows older and becomes more aware of the world around him, he is beginning to show some interest in why everyone doesn't always have everything they need.
Whether it's a homeless person lying in a pile of old blankets on a bench in the blistering cold, a veteran standing in the middle of traffic with a cardboard sign asking for help, or a malnutritioned child sitting in a swarm of bugs during a commercial break, these actions and images are beginning to resonate with Mr. President #1, and I think the holiday season is the perfect time for me to take the next step in get him involved in the act of giving back.
It all began when Mr. President #1 was on his way out the door for school, and saw our study full of boxes, clothes, old toys, bags, and even our couch! Just as he was ready to make a run for it, he glanced in the study, then he looked back at me and said, "Mommy, is this our stuff?" Mr. President #1 just could not believe I was about to give away all of his old things, but I explained to him that we will be donating our things we no longer use to the Salvation Army so they can share it with people who need it more. Although a little reluctant, he seemed to be okay with that. "Oh yea. I think that's a good idea, Mommy," was Mr. President #1's delayed response, so I decided to take things a little further.
As I was walking Mr. President #1 down the street, I made him a proposition: "So what do you think about giving gifts this year instead of receiving gifts for Christmas?" I was expecting a very adamant and stubborn response, but I was almost floored when Mr. President #1 opened his mouth and said a simple, "sure!" I might have been a little surprised, but I was also proud, and okay, okay...I think my heart also melted a little! Before we parted ways that morning before school, Mr. President #1made a point to tell me that he was okay with giving gifts, but maybe he could get "just one or two toys this year?" LOL!!! Of course I accepted his compromise, and although he wasn't home to see the Salvation Army truck pull up in front of the house, Mr. President #2 and I took plenty of pictures to share with him.
While the holidays is the most opportune time to take part in an act of charity or giving, and teach your children about helping those in need, maybe we can all make a conserted effort to make giving back more than just a once-a-year occurance. Join me in spreading the spirit of giving, not just during the holidays, but throughout the year. Let's make giving back a way of life, and set a great example for our children. Here are a few tips for getting your children involved and in the habit of giving back.
1. Donate clothes and toys:
Involve your little ones when you're digging in the bottom of the closet and packing those boxes with the clothes and shoes no longer being used. This is a great way to get the kiddos involved in sharing and gifting those items they've hand-picked.
2. Help a neighbor:
Do you have elderly neighbors or neighbors with a lot of kids?? Let your kids volunteer to help bring in their groceries, rake the leaves, or shovel the snow. I'm sure your neighbors will appreciate it, and your kids will learn the importance of lending a helping hand.
3. Pack a food basket:
If you've ever had a friend or family member pass away or bring a new life into the world, I'm sure you know how much others can appreciate a food basket or a home-cooked meal. Let your little ones pick things to contribute to the basket. And if the environment is kid-friendly, take them along to experience the gratitude and appreciation when your masterpiece is delivered.
Let this holiday season serve as a reminder of the importance of giving back and helping those in need. Remember to join me in teaching our children that giving is not something that happens just during the holidays or when disaster strikes, but teach them that giving is a way of life--something we should all live by. Always keep in mind that to whom much is given, much is required.
Happy Holidays, everyone!!
*Pictured above: the wonderful men of the Salvation Army carrying our couch to the donation truck.