Charity and the Spirit of giving is an important element in a person’s life. Spiritually, it opens up many doors for the giver and greatly blesses him in return. Physically, it has been shown that giving puts you in a better mood. Children must be taught to give if they will grow up to be assets to the society. Many parents are taking the time to help children learn about charity and the importance of reaching out to others in their time of need. They have made generous family donations, often involving their children in picking out the charity, writing the check, and preparing and mailing the envelope. They have allowed their children to witness turning the pain and grief of unimaginable loss into a time of extending love and compassion to unknown people half way around the world. Most parents want lessons about charity to be more than a one-time occurrence. They want the spirit of giving to be a way of life for their children. How then do they make charity become a habit?
To help your children acquire the habit of giving, consider implementing as a family the strategies which follow.
1. Donate clothes.
Periodically go through your closets rooting out clothes you haven’t worn in a while, which can be given to the Salvation Army or Goodwill for distribution to the needy. Encourage your children to do the same. Allow them to select which clothes or toys they wish to donate. The value of this activity is diminished greatly if you go through their closets for them without their presence. For maximum benefit, get your children involved in choosing the appropriate items. Take your children with you when you drop the items off at the charitable destination.
2. Help neighbors.
Regularly engage in a service-oriented project. Rake the leaves of an elderly couple. Bake cookies for a serviceman or servicewoman. Bake bread and deliver it to the homeless feeding station in your community. Who is your neighbor? Your neighbour is anyone around you.
3. Make birthdays charitable.
Set up birthday parties as a time for giving to others. At your child’s first school-age birthday party, ask guests to bring a gift of a book (new or used) to be donated to a school in need. Talk to your son about the books he has and about children who have no books. Explain that one way to celebrate a birthday would be to give to those who have less. Involve the birthday boy in the decision of whether not to give the books to a woman’s shelter, a doctor’s office, or some other appropriate organization. When you deliver the books with your son, record it on camera, and revisit that movie (or those pictures) on future birthdays. 5. Deliver nutrition. Build food baskets around the holidays and give to a needy family suggested by your church or school. Involve your children is selecting canned goods, fruit, and other treats to include. Decorate the gift package and deliver it together, as a family.
4. Change for a difference.
Create a charity jar to be used by the family when allowances are distributed. Invite children to share some of their allowance with others through donating to the jar. As the jar fills, decide as a family where to contribute the contents. You may choose to buy food stuff for a family in need, buy clothes for needy children, or contribute to a a child’s school fees among others. Watch out for those in need in your neighbourhood or church.
5. Help elders.
Do things for the elderly that they have trouble doing for themselves. Sweep or clean for Grandma. Wash Grandpa’s car. Clean their windows in the spring. Help them plant flowers. Teach the children to help their elders and elders in the society.
6. Pitch in (Join a Service Group)
Get on a regular service schedule at your church. Join a Service group in church and encourage your child to do same at her level if she can. By implementing some of these ideas or others like them, you will be teaching your children that giving is a life style and not reserved only for emergencies. You will be helping them appreciate that reaching out to others in need is a way of life, rather than a moment in time when a catastrophic disaster occurs. Remember, while you are giving to others, you are giving your children important messages about your beliefs concerning the spirit of giving.