When I was growing up we did not have much money so I was extremely thankful for what I was given. I believe that because of this, I learned the art of selflessness and the joy of giving. As an adult and mom of 6 kids I do my very best to instill the love of giving within my kids. Of course my kids love to get as most kids do but I want them to have that love of giving. Here are some tips and ideas on how kids and families can give back this holiday season.
- Start a Neighborhood Food Drive: First decide which organization or food pantry that you will be donating the food that you collect to. There are a few ways that you can start a neighborhood food drive. One way is to grab your wagon and go door to door in your neighborhood. After introducing yourself, explain to your neighbors that you are collecting perishable food items and then explain where you will be donating the items to. The second way is to create a flyer that includes information regarding your drive; such as what kind of food items are needed, where the food will be donated and when you will be picking the food up. In the flyer you can encourage your neighbors to place a bag of food items on their porch so you do not have to bother them when you pick the food up. When my friend and I were in 9th grade, we did a neighborhood food drive on Thanksgiving and got amazing results.
- Adopt an Angel: Many schools, churches, malls, and stores have Angel Trees set up near the entrance. An Angel Tree is a tree filled with angel ornaments and on each ornament is a ‘wish list’ from a child or elderly person that may not have the chance to have a nice Christmas. Each year my daughter’s school sets up an ‘Angel Tree’ for our sister school. I allow my girls to pick out two angels and then we go to Walmart and start shopping. Even though we do not know these angels, we have so much fun shopping for them. We try our best to purchase from their list, but we make sure to purchase them a toy, art supplies, shirt, and then something fun and random. My hope is to teach my girls that there are kids their age and in their small town that may not have many, if any, presents under their tree when they wake up on Christmas morning.
- Pay it Forward: I love surprising unexpected people, especially moms that might be having a hard day due to kids that might not be cooperating. One day I was at Baskin Robbins, a popular ice cream establishment, and when it was time for me to pay, the cashier must have ‘felt my pain’ because she said ‘I got this’. This made me feel so wonderful and it made me feel like someone was watching over me because my day got a little bit better after that. Create a simple ‘Pay it Forward’ note and then randomly pay for someone’s meal or drink, purchase some $5 gift cards to Starbucks and randomly gift them along with the ‘Pay it Forward’ note, mow your neighbor’s lawn, or offer to babysit.
- Volunteer: There are so many kid friendly places to volunteer at, such as an animal shelter. I would suggest checking your church for these opportunities or your city website.
- Hospital: Sadly, some families have to spend Christmas in the hospital. In an effort to help families, not just those with kids, have a nice holiday, I suggest contacting your local hospital and finding out what is needed and what is allowed to contribute. As a mom that spent time in the hospital with my daughter, little surprises can really make someone’s day.
- Nursing Home: When my oldest daughter was around 8 years old, she was a member of Camp Fire Girls and I was the team leader. After contacting our local nursing home to schedule a date to visit and to gather suggested items we could donate, the girls and I began to plan. We purchased mini stockings and stuffed each stocking with nail polish, soaps, girly stuff, lotions, candy canes and other miscellaneous items. The girls then created home made Christmas cards and we then gathered Christmas carols. The girls had so much fun preparing for this event but they had more fun singing, talking to and gifting their items to the residents. The light and sparkle in the residents eyes and the huge smiles were priceless.
Even though kids love to receive gifts, it is important to teach them and show them how to give back, not just during the holidays, but throughout the year. How do you plan to give back this holiday season?
Written by: Aimee Fauci