This is one of my favorite concepts that I strive to infuse into my daily life and something I hope to pass on to my children. Giving needs to be taught, mirrored, and celebrated as a family.
The holiday season presents a great opportunity to instill a sense of philanthropic spirit in yourself and your family. I find this to be especially important as, at times, children can tend to get caught up in the “receiving” of the holiday season. Each year I try to create a balance of receiving and giving during a time in which we should reflect on everything we are thankful for.
Teaching your family about giving during the holidays isn’t always easy. It can be a busy and overwhelming time of the year. Remember that there are three ways to give back: time, talent, and treasure. People give in many ways, and any form is equally important.
1. Lend a helping hand.
Volunteering is a great way to get out and spend time together as a family. There are so many ways to volunteer if you seek them out. With kids, make sure to find an organization that creates a safe and educational environment for your family. My favorite places to volunteer are the Humane Society and our local library.
2. Warming hearts and hands.
It can be chilly during the winter months. For this activity, set up a hot chocolate station at a homeless shelter, a public school, or a library. Prepare warm hot chocolate and give out a pair of hand warmers to anyone needing some extra warmth.
3. Send a smile.
People love getting mail – actual mail delivered through the age-old postal service. Take time to sit down with your kids and have them write letters. My favorite place to send letters during the holidays is to the military, children’s hospitals, and assisted living homes.
4. Host a toy cleanout.
Set aside one day when your kids can go through their toys and pick special ones to be donated. Give them to a local daycare, a children’s center, or Goodwill.
5. Host a giving party.
Have your family host a holiday-themed party where admission is 2-3 canned food items. During the party, have children decorate cookies that can be donated to the local police or fire station.
This is just a small list of things that you can do with your kids. The best thing that you can do is lead by example all year long.
Talk to your children about non-profit organizations that have impacted you and why it is important to support those. There are both local and national non-profit organizations that you can educate others about.
My favorite loon-profit organization is Sandy Hook Promise. They work to prevent gun-related deaths due to crime, suicide, and accidental discharge. Being a resident of Newtown, this one is near and dear to my heart.