In a couple weeks, my son will have his very first ‘first day of school’ and I am so excited for him to experience preschool and learning in a classroom. The start of the school year is an exciting time, from meeting the new teacher to picking out new school supplies. As we headed out to pick up his school supplies, I wanted to start this new chapter of his life with a ‘lesson’ about giving back.
Carrying his school supply list, I helped my son pick out everything he needed and we took two baskets, so that we could purchase a second set of everything on his list to donate to his preschool/church. When I explained that we would be donating the second basket of supplies, my three-year-old’s response was that he was excited to buy things for his friend. “Mom, my friend is a girl. She has all the same things I do, but she wants an elephant folder, not a gorilla folder like me.” While the full concept of donating might not completely be understood with younger children, the lesson of giving is one that is important for all ages.
The following are other ways children can get involved in donating/charity.
1) Thanksgiving Food Drives: Take your child with you to the grocery store and let them pick out the food. Hy-Vee has child-sized shopping carts or you can let them carry a basket or reusable bag.
2) Holiday Toy/Gift Drives: During the holidays let you child pick out the toy for a Toys for Tots or similar drive. At our church we do Angel Tree donations, and this year I will make sure one of our angels is my son’s age, so that he can help pick out the clothes and gifts.
3) Birthdays: Around the time of your child’s birthday, take him/her on a shopping trip to buy a gift for a child in need. You can donate the gift to a local children’s hospital or shelter.
4) Spring Cleaning Donations: Whether it’s spring or any other season, when you take the time to clean out your home, try to include your children in the process. It will slow down your cleaning and probably result in having to keep a few extra ‘treasures’ you wanted to get rid of, but having your children help pick toys and clothes to donate is a great way to involve them in giving back.
The options I listed are based on having a three-year-old, but for those with older children, there are so many options to guide them in the direction of volunteering and giving back. Here in the Quad Cities there are many opportunities to volunteer, from getting involved with Special Olympics to serving at food pantries. The best way to teach is by example and as parents, it’s our responsibility to be positive role models. I am sure we have all learned, in good and bad ways, that our children mimic our behaviors, so this is a great way to teach a very good behavior and it doubles as a way to spend some extra quality time together as a family. You will make a difference for both your family and one in need.
What are some ways your family/children give back?