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6 Ways to teach kids to give at Christmas

Christine Cristiano hangs her hat in Ontario, Canada. She shares her world with husband, two sons and a beagle named Tessie.

Teaching kids charity

The Christmas season is the perfect time to teach children and teens the spirit of giving; lessons that can be revisited all year round. It is easy for the younger generation to get wrapped in the commercialism of the season and miss the true meaning of the holidays when they are bombarded by the media and advertisements specifically targeted towards them. In some instances, children and teens are oblivious to those less fortunate whether it be a neighbour who is down on their luck or a village ravaged by flood waters on the other side of the world.

Branching out into the community

Community groups are an ideal way to introduce the act of volunteering to your child and most communities play host to various charities or groups that rely heavily on volunteers including foods banks, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and senior's homes.  One of the most important aspects to successfully introduce volunteering to your child is to make it a family initiative and get involved yourself.

A simple start is to put together a food box for your local food bank and bring your child with you to the drop off centre. Often, children who have never been touched by poverty or homelessness are unable to grasp the concept that some families are in need of food; through a child's eyes food is readily available at the local grocery store. When a child participates in the entire cycle, they are able to form a correlation between the gathering and packing of the food and the end user.

Many food banks need more volunteers during the Christmas season to help sort food received from the holiday food drive; this act can be especially gratifying when a child realizes the part in which they contributed to the processing of donated food for the less fortunate. 

Volunteer year round

Although it is often perceived the need for volunteerism is greater during the holidays, poverty and homelessness never goes away so consider making volunteering a part of your family life by setting aside an hour or two each month to volunteer and get the whole family involved.

Many worthy organizations are always recruiting volunteers to contribute to their causes:

  • Habitat for Humanity builds houses for families in need and has volunteer programs specifically design for children and teens. Volunteer opportunities are available across North America.
  • Free the Children helps children, families and villages across the world and offers volunteer programs for children, teens and family kits.
  • The American Red Cross recruits youth to help organize fundraising at the high school level, train in disaster response, healthy and safety services and many more.

An early start in volunteering teaches children and youth that they can make a difference through their actions and often equates to a lifetime of giving of oneself.

For more on teaching kids to give:

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