Children today are being raised in a world where everything is at their fingertips; expected, plentiful and disposable. How do we teach them that there are more important things than material possessions, and that giving really does feel as nice as receiving?
The crux of your teaching lies in your family values. Charity truly does begin at home. It’s imparted by parents, grandparents, siblings and other relatives. It’s in how we relate, empathize and give to others. Children need to be involved in benevolent acts from an early age – whether it’s simply watching as Mom helps Dad with a difficult task, or assisting in gathering up unwanted toys for donation.
Here are a few ideas to inspire:
Bring your child along with you when you shovel the driveway of an elderly neighbour, donate blood at the local blood bank, or help at a charity event. Older children can assist with coat checks or other fundraisers where proceeds benefit a local cause or organization. Think animal shelter, food bank or hospital for sick kids.
When it’s time to clean their rooms, have kids set aside a box for items that may be donated to a charity. Let them choose the daycare, school or hospital they prefer.
Have your child consider donating the hair from their next major cut to Angel Hair for Kids or Canadian Cancer Society.
Sponsor a child from another country. Supporting a child in need through a charitable organization will show kids just how important giving can be. They’ll see how they can change someone’s life simply by providing basics such as clean water, education and healthcare.
Be a role model by putting in a few hours at your local food bank, visiting with the elderly or walking dogs for the animal shelter.
Make their next birthday party a toonie party where guests bring one toonie for your child and one toonie for a donation. Let your child choose the cause and have them accompany you to drop off contributions.
Volunteer at your child’s school. You benefit by enriching your school’s community, while your child benefits by seeing your passion and commitment for an important part of their life.
The best way to teach your kids about charity is to show them that giving to others in need is an integral part of who you are. Little, everyday things can go a long way in demonstrating this – letting someone go ahead of you in line, giving spare change to a homeless person, taking in a stray dog or helping a friend in need. Remember, they’re watching your every move!
By Kristen Wint