Giving during the holiday season is a tradition for many. This is the time of year when food banks and donation drop-offs are working at capacity. Companies often sponsor parties or volunteer-driven events for nonprofits. Many of us are simply feeling a bit more joyful and generous and December means endless opportunities.
But, giving with kids in tow? Or even having the kids do the giving? Hmm... Can it be overwhelming? Sure. Aren’t there limitations? There can be.
So let me break it down for you.
Where to Begin
Determine frequency. Maybe this year, you’ll start out with designating one day to give with your kids. Or maybe it will be once per week. Or maybe you’ll go for it and commit to giving every day. Whatever it may be, giving is giving!
Choose giving that works for your family (consider finances, time, location, etc.). Do you have wiggle room in your budget to give financially? Do you have time to bake or shop for items? Are you located in an area with a wide variety of nonprofit organizations? Do you have babies or teenagers? And so on.
Decide how you want to give. Do you want to give with time or random acts of kindness? Do you want to give with money/items or food? Volunteering time?
Determine where are you going to give. Are there specific populations/groups/organizations you have in mind? Is there an organization that supports the interests of your children?
Just do it. If you don’t know where to begin, simply pick one and go for it!
Once you think about the factors above, a little research and prep work will help it go smoothly. You can search local, national, or global organizations. And if you find something that piques your interest, don’t hesitate to reach out and ask how you can help!
Things to Remember
Many organizations have an age requirement to volunteer. This is due to liability, age-appropriateness, ability to take on needed responsibilities. You may find this frustrating. Understandable! However, we always want to keep in mind that we’re giving in order to help and the last thing we want to do is create more work for the staff or issues for an organization.
Unless it is an emergency or issue of health, do everything you can to follow through with your commitment to organizations. Many organizations rely on volunteers and if they don’t show up, it can mean food won’t get served or supplies won’t be collected.
Prepare your children for any giving activities in advance. Explain what you’re doing before you go — what to expect, why you’re doing it, appropriate behavior, etc.
If you’re volunteering and your child is having a rough moment (it happens!), take them out of the room for a bit or go for a short walk. Remind them why you are there. And if they’re just not into it, see if there’s an alternative activity they can participate in to ensure everything goes as smoothly as possible. Being flexible is key!
“I have a plan for giving. Now how can I make it fun?”
Some ideas for you:
Fill a bowl with slips of paper and take turns pulling one out each day.
Use small dolls or stuffed animals who “swoop in” and leave notes for your kids. (This is our family’s method of choice — the givingELVES!)
Write acts of giving on a chalkboard or letter board.
Wrap up a small box that you can reuse and stick a note inside.
Or do you celebrate Christmas and have an advent calendar? This is a simple way to introduce giving into your child’s daily life in December.
Tuck notes inside small envelopes of a handmade advent decoration.
Write on the links of the classic paper chain.
Put a note in each section of an advent box.
Place small notes on the back of store-bought chocolate calendars.
Whether Pinterest-worthy or simple, the experience is the same. There is no right or wrong. There is no one size fits all families. But giving in this way is possible and it is meaningful. And I promise that this tradition will become one of your family’s absolute favorites!
Follow along on our family’s December givingPROJECT adventure 2018 on Instagram @givinggrows.
Happy Holidays and Happy Giving! <3