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.
For parents who are striving to instill a sense of empathy, giving and nurturing in their child, volunteer opportunities abound that can help enlighten your child to understand the need to support
one another in the community, country or globally.
Downplaying the gift giving factor
Gifts play an important part of the holiday season however encouraging your child to give a gift of ‘time and talent’ is a good introduction for kindling the spirit of Christmas.
Encourage each family member to contemplate how they can be of service to one another and exchange gifts of ‘time and talents’ in lieu of material gifts between siblings.
Small steps to volunteering
The act of volunteering doesn’t have to take on mammoth proportions to make a difference. Simple acts of helping out a neighbour, sick relative or friend in need can help inspire the spirit
of giving. Seniors who are isolated or don’t have any extended family nearby will benefit from a visiting volunteer whether it be to share some time socializing or receiving help with odd
jobs in their home. Likewise, a neighbour recovering from an illness or injury could probably use some help with meal preparation, or domestic chores or an incapacitated pet owner may appreciate an
offer to walk their dog.
Family size volunteer uptakings
The best part of the holiday season is that it brings families together and embarking on a special project is an effective way of teaching the spirit of Christmas.
Consider these ideas to peruse in your quest to discover the joy in giving of oneself:
- Adopt’ a needy family and involve all family members in the purchasing, packaging and delivery of the gifts.
- Arrange a food, toy or clothing drive in your community to teach your children about charity and the joy of giving. A ‘drive’ for specific items such as teddy bears, pajamas, books
or shoes can be a very successful add-on to the traditional food or toy drive.
- Limit the number of gifts for each family member and donate the money to charitable organizations that offer aid to families in third world countries.
Donate gently used books
Cathy, a mother of two, has created an annual Christmas tradition of purging gently used books from the family bookshelf and donating them to the local family crisis shelter.
“Kids outgrown books as they get older and children in the crisis shelter can benefit from them,” Cathy explains. “I have always included the kids in the delivery of the books to
the shelter. One year, as we were unloading our boxes of used books, a young child came into the hallway, peered into the box and selected a book. My kids were thrilled when they witnessed the
little boy sit down on the ground and start to look at the pictures. Up to that time, they had never really had the chance to make the connection between giving away their books and witnessing
another child reading it.”