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Teach Your Kids the Spirit of Compassionate Giving

© 2010 by Deborah Beasley

Is it possible? Can it be that time of year already? We hadn’t time to recuperate from Halloween when Christmas and Hanukah decorations began showing up on the shelves. We were just beginning to think about the menu for our Thanksgiving Feast as the onslaught of Holiday television advertising kicked into high gear.
The movers and shakers behind brilliant advertising campaigns knew right when to pounce on the weakened wills of our unsuspecting kiddies. With their mouths still salivating over the stash of trick or treat sweets and their cute little brains on a sugar high, their eyes began to take on that familiar ‘deer in the headlights’ look kids get when they see all those sparkly new toys on the telly.

The mere possibilities overwhelm such delicate systems and a chorus of voices has reached the ears of parents far and wide. Yes, folks. ‘Tis is the season of ‘I wants’, ‘Get me’s, and ‘Gimmies’. Despair not! When opportunity knocks, good parents open the door. Balance the ‘gimmies’ in your kids with giving this Holiday Season. Teach your child the spirit of compassionate giving.

Here are 10 opportunities for kids to give in Gloucester County and beyond:

1. Begin or participate in a holiday winter coat drive through your school, church, sport team, or Scout troop.
2. Organize a food drive or donation drop in your area to benefit the local Pantry.
3. Help your child research and choose an organization s/he may want to help by collecting donations of food, clothing, or baby items and personally delivering them to the shelter or organization.
4. Offer to help an older neighbor with yard work, fall clean up or shoveling snow throughout the winter season.
5. Decide to run an Alex’s Lemonade Stand yearly to benefit kids with cancer.
6. Allow your kids to choose a child to sponsor through organizations like Christian Children’s Fund. They can pick the country of the child and communicate often through letters and photographs with their sponsored child.
7. Young children can help parents write a menu and pick out ingredients for a meal to be donated to a family in need during this season.
8. Take your children to pick out one gift each for a child less fortunate and place them in the Toys for Tots collection box.
9. Ask friends and family members to donate new pairs of gloves, hats, socks, ear muffs, and scarves for underprivileged children.
10. Get involved with a local ‘soup kitchen’ where young people may volunteer to serve those coming in for their meals.

According to the Volunteer Center of Gloucester County located in Sewell, New Jersey, “Youth volunteerism has doubled in the last 15 years. “ The Center reports that “young people volunteer 2.4 billion hours annually” to help meet the needs of others in the community. Why should your child let them have all the fun?

First Lady Michelle Obama in an essay written exclusively for USA Today Magazine in 2009 wrote, “The current generation of young people is one of the most socially conscious and active, with 61% of 13- to 25 year olds saying they feel personally responsible for making a difference in the world.”

The First Lady goes on to say, “When so many people are struggling to make ends meet, we need everyone pulling together to help solve our nation’s problems and lift up our fellow Americans.” This includes America’s youngest citizens.

Teaching kids to open their hearts to others prepares them to be the people of character we envision them becoming in the future. Encouraging kids to give to others promotes a spirit of willingness to give generously of their time and talents to those in need. Parents who model the ideals of community giving in any season will support healthy growth in their children all year round. You will still hear the ‘gimmies’ and ‘get me’s’ so familiar to children excited by the season. Now it will be tempered by a new social awareness and the joy they experience from learning the spirit of compassionate giving.
Deborah Beasley, ACPI CCPF, is a Certified Parenting Coach, workshop presenter, and adoptive parent. She is the author of From Foster Care to Adoption- Navigating the Emotional Journey, A Parent’s Guide to State Adoption (2010), and regular contributing writer for The Women of Gloucester County online magazine. Deborah is the founder of Together At Last Family Support which provides phone and in home coaching services, parenting education courses, and supports for families raising children with mental health and behavioral concerns.
Contact Deborah at: 609-970-1100
Web: http://www.TogetherAtLastFamily.com
Parent Support: http://www.HowDoesYourChildGrow.wordpress.com