December is a time for giving and remembering those who are less fortunate. But why should we teach our kids to only think about others during one month of the year? Let’s keep the momentum going and find ways to make generosity one of the values we teach and model for the next generation. Here are 4 ways to promote philanthropy in your community.
Make a Community Involvement Calendar
There are countless ways that kids can get involved within the community to make a positive difference. Ask around, brainstorm some ideas, and sit down with your kids to plan out monthly experiences helping others. Call it “Giving Back Weekend” or “Spread the Joy Days” or “Make the World Better Time.” Integrating these experiences into your routine will not only teach children that they can make a positive impact on the world, but that this is something worth doing on a regular basis.
Ideas could include picking up trash, running a food drive, donating to a shelter, packing meals to be shipped overseas, or adopting your own sponsor child in need that your kids can be pen pals with. (It’s a good idea to check with organizations first—to find out what their needs are, how you can be of help, and any age requirements.)
Do Something as a Class, Troop, Pack, or Neighborhood
For more impact and some fun times with friends, organize volunteering opportunities for groups. Whether it’s a scouting group, class, neighborhood, or extended family, more people means more help where it’s needed and some very impactful memories for your children. According to ServiceLeader.org, “Volunteering is the perfect way for children to be welcomed as productive, active members of a community…[It] promotes healthy lifestyle and choices, enhances development, teaches life skills, improves the community, and encourages a lifelong service ethic.”
Point Out and Model Generosity in Our Words
Part of being generous is not only in service projects, but in our daily lives and how we speak to (or about) other people. Generosity begins with kindness, empathy, and love, and spreading those feelings around! When someone pulls out a stereotype or jumps to a conclusion about someone else, let your kids see you challenge it. When an adult shows patience or empathy to strangers, point it out to your kids. Watch the words and tones that you use as well. Whenever children share of their own accord, help someone else when others wouldn’t, or spread kindness in their own way, acknowledge that action and the emotions it probably caused.
Ask the Kids!
Ask children what they’d like to do to make the world a little bit better. Leave it open ended and let them think about it a bit. You may be surprised (and inspired) by their ideas. Letting them lead the way also empowers them to know they have good ideas, and their ideas can make a difference. Check out this example of children collecting items for the homeless.
Take for example our recent Holiday Free Shop in Allentown, PA. Just like all of our Lil’ Shoppers Shoppes, children can come in to find gifts for loved ones for the holidays. Normally most of the gifts are less than $3, but this annual event was free for disadvantaged kids to be able to shop comfortably for their parents and families. They even got some wrapping done, and it’s obvious that kids love to give!
Here’s to raising a generation of generosity!