Each year when the holiday season approaches, our thoughts turn to helping others by involving ourselves in a myriad of projects that are targeted to share our resources with others who do not have much. Most of the time we think of these activities as an “adults only” activity but with some thought and preparation, we can teach our children to learn to give by sharing their resources. Engaging young children in sharing and caring projects teaches them that giving is not just restricted to certain times of the year but is appropriate throughout the year. As parents, relatives, guardians and educators, we can positively influence our children as young as five or six years of age to share with other children who do not have the material blessings that they have. When our grandchildren come to visit, we put coins besides their dinner plates and explain why the coins are there and what is the purpose of the “love can” that is sitting on the table. We explain that the money that is placed into the “love can” at dinner time is specifically designated to be sent to a Christian humanitarian organization that reaches out to help children and families in dire need. In many foreign countries,because of charitable contributions, families receive monetary resources to help them buy cattle, chickens or garden seeds so that they can produce food, livestock to supply meat for their families or purchase a well or other equipment for use in their community. I have outlined some suggestions that may be helpful in directing young children in developing a mindset of sharing and caring.
Select an organization that offers assistance to families and share the mission and purpose of that organization with your children. You could read a story about a particular need of other children which could be used to initiate a discussion about the needs that are represented in the story. Organizations such as Toys for Tots and World Vision give a marvelous opportunities for children to share with other children. Allowing the child to select a toy to give to the toy drive will give them immense pride. The Angel Tree Project and Samaritan’s Purse are other organizations that are reputable and offer children a marvelous opportunity to give and share with other children.
Carefully review the solicitations that you receive in the mail If you need ideas about charities to select as your “giving project” look through the pamphlets and letters received from non profit organizations. Of course, do all the necessary research to ensure that the organization is legitimate. Contact your local State Attorney General’s office to erase any lingering doubts about the authenticity of the organization.
Decide what kind of receptacle you will use to collect the money. In our family, we used an empty soda can and decorated it and placed the start date on the bottom of the can with the intention of opening the can in three months time. At the designated time, encourage the children to join in a family project to help count the money by letting them sort the coins or assist you in counting and wrapping the coins before taking the coins to the bank before writing the check amount.
When appropriate, encourage your children to follow up on how their donation was used by the organization. Explain how their unselfish giving helped to make a difference in someone’s life. Be sure to praise and commend your children for their unselfish and caring attitude in reaching out to help others. When you receive an acknowledgment from the receiving organization, be sure to read and show it to your children so that they understand the money was actually received and used for the stated purpose.
These suggestions can be implemented throughout the year, not just during the holiday season. We would do well to instill charitable habits within our children at a young age so that as they grow into adulthood they will continue to demonstrably share and care for others. If we all give some, many will receive much.