As the season of giving makes its way around, many families choose this time to reflect on what they have and those who may not be as fortunate. It’s a great time to create charity-center traditions that will teach children important lessons about gratitude, giving, and compassion. The earlier your child can learn these values, the better, so read on to discover a few simple charity projects that allow you to involve the youngest members of the family!
- Collecting Coins — Whether you grab one of those cardboard collection boxes from your place of worship, or simply label a jar with the name of chosen charity, small children will feel a sense of pride every time they contribute. Your little one will be eager to keep their eyes open for any stray coins they find and will love feeling how much heavier the jar gets with each passing day. They’ll also feel deep satisfaction when they finally come with you to donate that money they’ve worked hard to collect all month!
- Handmade Cards — Make simple, handmade cards to drop off to nursing homes or your local Meals on Wheels chapter, (they'll add your heartfelt notes to the meals they drop off to home-bound elderly individuals!) These cards are not only an opportunity for your child to share some love to those who need it, but also a great way to express creativity and practice writing!
- Toy Donations — Contribute to donations for children in need by taking your child shopping for a local toy drive. They’ll swell with pride when they can help you pick out a toy that they know another little boy or girl like them will love. You can also have them clean out their rooms and choose toys (in good condition) that they no longer need. This practice is an early lesson in sacrificing for the less fortunate and recognizing how lucky they are to have so much. It also creates an opportunity to declutter before the inevitable holiday influx of gifts.
- Doggie Treat Donations — Look up an easy, homemade dog treat recipe that you and your child can whip up to donate to your local animal shelter, (most only require a few household ingredients like peanut butter and wholewheat flour). Involve your little one in the measuring, stirring, and cookie-cutting! Just be sure to call ahead and confirm that the facility accepts homemade goodies.
- Homeless Care Packages — If you live in or near a big city, it’s likely that your child has observed homeless individuals and your treatment of them. Though this topic can be controversial, Christmas is the perfect time to extend the hand of generosity no matter your view of this complex situation. Create care packages that can sit in your car and be distributed at appropriate opportunities. Take gallon-sized plastic baggies and have your child help you fill them with items that may be of use, such as a warm pair of socks (homeless shelters say this is their most requested item), travel sized toiletries, and a few nonperishable snacks.
- Hospital Care Packages — Help your child appreciate the gift of their health through this meaningful charity project that is sure to make an impact. Create care packages for young children who are hospitalized this season by filling tote bags with a few items that may provide a bit of comfort or entertainment. Some ideas include a stuffed animal, a coloring book with crayons, comfy socks, a fun notebook and matching pens, and play dough. Don’t forget a few tasty treats!