New York Times best-selling author of Reshaping It All, ABC Family star and Full House alum Candace Cameron Bure devotes her time to many philanthropic causes, and she gets her kids in on the act. "It's the next generation. We must instill in them the compassion we hope to carry on throughout time," Bure says of her children, ages 9, 11 and 12. "It's easy to involve your kids. It will help grow their hearts for the needy and also give them a sense of what they're blessed with at home."
The youngest of children may not understand philanthropy, but they can get a grasp on the spirit of giving. Teach your toddler to share, starting with toys and food. After birthdays and Christmas, have them choose one old toy to donate. Children even this young can understand how good it feels to make someone smile.
Get your kids involved in selecting a charity. Present your children with a few different charities that benefit causes they might care about. Explain the causes and let your kids decide which one they would like to take on. If they make the decision, it'll mean just a little bit more.
Once you choose your charity, pay a visit with your kids. Let them see the organization in action to help make it real. Once they witness the need firsthand, they'll be more inclined to help. While you're there, don't just stand and watch -- get involved. Bring a donation along or pitch in and help with the operations. The staff will be delighted with the help, and your child will experience the joy of giving. "They have a sense of pride and accomplishment in helping others and look forward to when they can do it again," says Bure of her kids.
Make philanthropy a family affair. Serve side by side with your child as a way to bring your family closer. Although Bure and her husband serve several charities individually, one gets the whole clan involved. "As a family, we love to help out at the Union Rescue Mission in downtown Los Angeles. Our church is putting on a carnival for its residents, and we get a chance to serve," she said.
Money is an abstract concept, especially for the youngest children. Instead of collecting money, encourage them to help in a way they understand. Get your kids involved in a toy drive or food bank. Ask them how they would feel to be without toys or food, and explain that some people go without these every day.
Your children learn a lot just by watching what you do. Set a good example for them by practicing philanthropy in your own life. Bure credits her parents, who opened the doors of their home to those in need, for instilling the spirit of giving. "I saw my mom with such a big, open heart, and she passed that on to all of us Cameron kids," she adds.
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