The holidays are here, and although ’tis the season for over-the-top shopping and sales, it’s also a perfect time to give back to your community. Quite likely, your kids are bouncing off the walls with pre-holiday excitement, so why not put that energy to good use? Read on for four easy, safe ways for your children to give back during the holiday season.
1. Donate old clothes and toys to charity
In the next week or so, plan a weeding-out session in which all family members pick out clothes and toys they no longer use to donate to a charitable thrift store. Keep in mind that kids get attached to all kinds of things, even shoes they’ve outgrown or stuffed animals haven’t played with in years, so don’t be surprised if they’re reluctant to contribute. Just reiterate that they’re not only helping another family, they’re giving their old toys a new home — and making space for any new toys the holiday season brings.
Whatever your family ends up donating, take your kids along for the drop off and involve them in the process as much as you can.
2. Make greeting cards for the less fortunate
Bring out your markers, construction paper, glitter, and glue, and spend an afternoon creating holiday greeting cards for the less fortunate. Your kids can express their creativity and design as many cards as they like, and then take them to a local homeless shelter or charitable organization that can distribute the cards to those in need of season’s greetings.
3. Volunteer a few hours
Your children can also help by volunteering at an organization in need of help this time of year. Consider volunteering with your kids at a local food bank, or head to a senior center to spread holiday smiles. There are a variety of ways children of all ages can get involved that make a difference.
Older children may be able to come up with a way to give back that suits their interests, like helping at an animal shelter or heading down to the homeless shelter to help serve a meal.
4. Save up change to donate to a charity
A simple way for your kids to give back is by donating their spare change to a charity of choice. If they have a stash of coins on hand in a piggy bank, they can pull their donation from there. Otherwise, just decorate a mason jar, make a coin slot on top, and see how many coins your family can collect before your kids are ready to make a donation. After they make this year’s donation, set a goal and start collecting for next year. How much can you accumulate?
Letting your kids choose what organization to support will challenge them to think about what issues they value and provide a real sense of fulfillment. Older children can research charities online to get a better sense of the options and figure out where they want their money to go.
These four choices make it fun and easy for kids (and whole families) to give back. By encouraging your kids to take part, you’re also teaching them the importance of community service — and giving them the confidence to get out there and make a difference. Does your family have a holiday tradition of giving back? Let us know how you give back in the comments!