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Teach your kids to make a difference

Tiernan McKay is a freelance writer based in Denver, Colorado. Her writing has appeared in magazines such as Alive!, Occupational Health and Safety, Restaurants and Institutions, Tampa Bay and Arizona Woman. Right now, she is either ridi...

Change your world

As parents, we are responsible for teaching our kids about the importance of giving, which can be a huge challenge given the amount of digital noise they face on a daily basis. By implementing family activities that are focused on giving, we can teach our kids that they can change their world.

dad and daughter volunteering

Jody L. Herrington-Gettys, Director of U.S. Disaster Relief for Operation Blessing International, provides some helpful and practical tips to inspire kids to give. "When children are young, it is important to teach them about those who are less fortunate and in need of the basics of life in a way that inspires the child to find ways to make a difference," she says.

Avoid isolation

The fact that kids are bombarded by technology and consumed by electronics leaves many feeling isolated from the reality of the world around them. Many children seem incapable of recognizing true need outside of their cyber-network. "With the modernization of society and the advancement of technology, our kids have an even stronger pull into self-absorption as their social lives revolve around the walls of cyberspace," says Herrington-Gettys. "Parents should find the balance between giving them opportunity to learn and enjoying technology while at the same time instilling in them how 'true relationships' are developed and how to truly make their lives count by living, loving and giving to others."

A team effort

When encouraging kids to get involved in charity, it helps to make it a team effort. Work with your kids to determine a cause that is meaningful to them and talk about the impact he can make in someone's life. "Many charities allow you to donate to a specific program; then the charity will chronicle its efforts online so you and your child can see exactly how you are helping someone," says Herrington-Gettys. "When children earn an allowance, teach them how their $1.00 can make a huge difference to someone in need."

Time is precious

The concept of giving is not limited to money. Volunteering is a great way for a family to give back -- together. "Every community has a local homeless shelter or soup kitchen," says Herrington-Gettys. Take one day a couple times a year to serve food so your child can see there are people 'in need' right there in your own hometown." Your family be enriched by the experience, but your child will learn at a young age the value of volunteerism.

Keep it simple

Sometimes hearing stories of suffering in lands far away can make kids feel helpless to make a difference. Try putting a face on need by getting involved locally. There are surely a myriad of opportunities right in your neighborhood. "Help out a local family around the holidays or invite a family you know is struggling over for dinner," says Herrington-Gettys. "The kind act of opening your home for one evening could be something that family remembers forever. Giving is not only about money but time and love."

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