When I hear the Salvation Army volunteers ringing their bells outside the grocery store, I am gently reminded to focus on giving and to share that focus with my children. There are so many ways to teach about charity and giving, a few ways are provided below.
- If they get allowance, teach them to put some towards charity from the beginning – My girls started with chores as part of the family by three years old and chores for allowance by four. As soon as they started earning an allowance, we helped them divide it each week into saving and spending and a bit into charity. This became money they could put in the offering at church or use for the coin drive at school. We talked occasionally about how we, as a family, contribute to charities and why.
- Investigate charities and organizations they are drawn to – As they get older, it may be helpful to allow children to choose their own charities. My younger daughter loves animals and is motivated to give to organizations like the ASPCA. You might make it fun by matching contributions.
- Include them in volunteer efforts – If you volunteer, share this with your children. As allowed, take them along to community clean-ups, soup kitchens or nursing homes. www.Our-Kids.com is a website that provides a wealth of information on all things parenting in the VA/DC/MD area. They recently published a list of places to volunteer with kids. Please visit http://www.our-kids.com/public/t/?f=5&s=133 for more information.
- Look for organization efforts – Each September our church stuffs backpacks with new school supplies for area children who are in need, each December they stuff similar stockings. There are area organizations that send care packages to deployed soldiers throughout the year. These organizations offer hands-on ways for even young children to be involved in giving.
- Include them when you donate toys and clothes – If you are already donating gently used items, just include your children in the process. Talk with them about what you are doing and why. Encourage them to find things they can also donate.