As the holidays near it becomes increasingly important to teach children the importance of giving as opposed to getting. Admittedly, it can be hard. With the onslaught of consumer messages aimed at children during the last part of the year that stress the benefits of receiving it can be difficult as parents to make giving as attractive as getting to your children, but it can be done. Here are four fun ways you can help teach your children about giving during the joyous holiday season.
Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF – While not the official holiday season, Halloween is one of kids’ favorite days of the year and who can blame them? Candy, toys, decorations and scary costumes make for an extremely fun seasonal holiday. While they get ready to trick-or-treat in their favorite costumes and go door-to-door asking for candy, also have them carry a fun, small UNICEF donation box where all money collected goes to help children in need in developing countries.
In its 62nd year, Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF has collected over $167 million dollars over the last six decades and is the largest youth led service program in the world. Children will love knowing their efforts are going to a worthy cause to help children just like them.
You can still order your free collection boxes from UNICEF and if they happen to arrive past Halloween you can always save them for next year.
Heifer International: The organization that empowers families the world over through animal gifts that provide not only a way out of hunger, but also a way into sustainable self-reliance, just launched a new interactive educational tool teaching children the power of giving. Aimed squarely at children between the ages of 5-10, Heifer’s new character, Sarah the Goat, guides children through the process of what it means to give an animal gift to a family living in poverty.
Children even as young as five will be able to grasp the concept of how one animal -from a goat, to a chicken, to a llama – can immeasurably change the trajectory of a family with little to eat and hardly a way to earn income. As parents it is important to introduce our children to philanthropy at an early age. Heifer International helps us do that by creating an easy-to-understand tool allowing kids to grasp that small changes can result in sustainable difference.
Salvation Army – Soon we will see Salvation Army’s red kettles in front of stores and hear the familiar ringing bells of volunteers asking for donations to help those less fortunate. This is an opportune time to give children money to drop in the kettle and also teach them the power of giving. Little children will always remember the Salvation Army red kettles throughout their lifetime and will continue to give as they grow older and also teach it to their children. This is a simple way to show that giving does not have to be a challenge, but it is as easy as dropping a few dollars in a bucket to help someone else.
ECHOAge: If your child is going to have a birthday during the holiday season and you are planning a huge party with her friends, consider using EchoAge.com. What is great about ECHOage.com is you send online invitations to your child’s friends and in the personalized invitations your child can tell her friends what she wants for her birthday. Half of the gifted money goes towards the child’s gift and what is so innovative is the other half goes to the charity your child chooses from the World Wildlife Federation to CARE.org. Your child will always find a charity that resonates with them and their personal goals of giving. ECHOage.com provides parents with the opportunity to discuss charitable giving as well as the various missions of their nonprofit partners.
Teaching children the power of giving is as simple as showing them how in real and tangible ways and getting them involved. The holiday season is the perfect time to make giving the centerpiece of family discussions. Your children won’t forget it.
Jennifer James is a pioneer in the mom blogging movement and founder of Mom Bloggers for Social Good, a global coalition of mom bloggers who use social media and blogging to advance information to their networks about pressing global issues. She also recently launched the Global Team of 200, a highly specialized group of members of Mom Bloggers for Social Good that concentrates on issues involving women and girls, children, world hunger and maternal health. James currently writes weekly for the Gates Foundation and Babble Cares and is a Babble Voices columnist.