The holidays are a great way to teach your children about the benefits of giving back to their community, helping to create a lifelong tradition of giving that will bring value to not only their lives, but the families they will help along the way. Below find 6 ideas for how your family can give back to others this season.
1. Clean out your child’s toy box and donate the gently-used toys they no longer use to a local shelter.
When my kids were younger, one of our Christmas traditions involved cleaning out the toy room, throwing out broken toys, and gathering others to donate. This way there was room for new toys from Santa, the playroom was organized for the briefest of moments, and our kids learned early that giving to others feels good.
2. Participate in a local coat and/or clothing drive.
Kids grow up fast and grow out of their clothes even faster. Donating last year's winter wear is a great way to make room in your closets and keep families warm for the winter.
3. Sponsor a local child or family.
Many local organizations provide families with warm clothing, toys, and food during the holidays, and many cities and towns have programs in which you can sponsor a child or family for the holidays. You’ll be surprised at the joy it will bring your children to browse the toy and clothing aisles picking out the perfect gifts to give to their “new friend” during the holidays.
4.Set up a hot chocolate stand or a bake sale and give the earnings to a local charity.
When it’s warm kids sell lemonade for a cause, so why not sell hot chocolate in winter? My kids did this once and raised almost $100 to buy items for a local animal shelter.
5. Go caroling at a local senior center or nursing home.
Buddy the Elf says, “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.” So bundle up the kiddos, jump in the car and get ready to sing your holiday favorites. As a bonus, bring some holiday treats to share. Believe me, your kids will never forget the feeling they get after one of the residents smiles and/or thanks them. Call ahead first to find out the best time for your visit. You can also contact your local Council on Aging to find a Senior Center near you.
6. Make cards together for kids and families who will be spending their holidays in the hospital this year.
Unfortunately, not everyone gets to spend their holidays at home. An easy way to make a lot of cards, like my son had us do one year, is to have everyone in your family draw a simple picture (snowman, Christmas tree, Santa. etc.). Scan them into the computer and create a simple holiday card with your images and a message on the front, then print a bunch, and write a message inside. Now deliver them to a hospital near you.