I was heartened the other day by a news report that said that, despite uncertain economic times, Americans are still giving charitably. Especially in these tough times, giving to those in need is an extremely important lesson for our kids.
With the incessant media coverage of the economy and other world events - and in spite of my efforts to shield them - the kids know there is some tough stuff going on in the world. They feel the stress of it all, like we do. But unlike us, they aren't as jaded by the world, and they don't have the economic resources at hand like adults do. It it can be a helpless feeling for them. They want to help, but don't know how.
Many people we know are being affected directly by the turn of events. Rather than sit back and do nothing - and even though many of us are tightening budgets proactively - we can still do little and big things that can make a difference, both in our own backyards and father afield. Basically, if we can do something, we should. Every little bit makes a difference.
Finding ways to give locally
There are clothing and toy and food drives going on in every community across the country right now, and they are a great way for kids to feel that they are participating the community and helping people nearby.
Maybe, instead of taking last years winter coat to the consignment shop, wash it and include it in a coat drive. Do you have spare mittens and hats? Allow your child to raid the pantry for canned. When you are out doing your own holiday shopping with your child, allow them to choose a toy to give. It doesn't have to be a big toy - it doesn't have to be a Wii! - and it can be from the sale table. Every little bit does make a difference.
Finding ways to give nationally and globally
With the worldwide economic down turn, there are more demands on charitable organizations across the country and around the world. There are so many possibilities, it can be hard to know where to begin!
As you consider monetary donations, you can involve your child in the decision making process. You can ask your child what kind of donation they would like to make: to food distribution organizations, housing assistance organizations, religious groups, and so on - and whether they want to donate domestically or internationally. You can then do some research to identify suitable groups, and ask your child to help decide which group gets the donation. Don't be surprised if your child asks to give some of his or her allowance to the cause! Every little bit makes a difference.
Charitable giving not only helps those that receive the assistance but also reminds us that we are part of a bigger world. When the greater world feels just a little (or a lot) out of control, it's the little acts of community that seem to make the biggest difference. On some level we are all in this together. It's a wonderful lesson for the kids - and for us.