Teaching Children to Give. Does it Really Work?

As parents, we always hope that even a fraction of what we teach our children resonates with them, stays with them, and that one day, might return to us in action so that we know they were listening. Because...validation.

I share this story not to boast about my child. I share this story to celebrate that introducing giving to our children, works. IT WORKS. When we consciously bring giving in to our lives, IT WORKS. And it changes all of us.

The other day, a friend of mine gave Milo four quarters. After a not-so-subtle suggestion, he gave two to his little sister, Luna. As we were riding the packed subway elevator up to the street level at the end of a long day, I quietly asked him if he was going to put his quarters in his givingJAR or his piggy bank. Milo is not known for speaking in a hushed voice, so his loud response went something like this.

"I am going to put both quarters in my givingJAR so that there's more money in it so we can buy more stuff for people who don't have any and need things." Be still my heart. I snuggled him in closely.

There was an audible, collective gasp. Joy all around.

A woman next to him smiled widely said, "You should bottle that right now and keep that with you forever."

A man behind me said, "Wow. Really wow...now that's the best thing I've heard all day." Isn't that the truth!

It works, guys. Stick with it!

Happy Giving!

Milo, 4 1/2 years old!

Milo, 4 1/2 years old!

Giver Spotlight - Mark LoGrippo

I have known Mark LoGrippo for ten years (whew, that went by quickly!). When I began my job at Big Brothers Big Sisters of NYC managing corporate mentoring programs, Mark was already well established in his role as a Big Brother. Through the years that I oversaw his program, Mark was an active volunteer and a mentor for his fellow Bigs. He was always willing to participate in even the wackiest of activities!

Mark's giving has evolved from mentoring youth to serving his community as an elected official! Mark is incredibly positive, humble, a family man, and a giver to his core. When I first reached out to him to see if he was willing to participate, his response was, "It is just how I live my life but thanks for thinking of me this way."

Thank you, Mark, for taking the time to chat with us for today's post!

What areas of giving are you involved with (past/present)?

I was truly humbled when you asked me if I would like to be spotlighted on your blog.

I had the opportunity to be a Verizon Big Brother through its Corporate Mentoring Program from 2005 thru 2014. Being a “Big Brother” was an extremely rewarding and gratifying experience. I still keep in touch with my first Little Brother who now has a family of his own. I loved being a Big Brother because I felt I was making a positive impact on a young person’s life. Each year we would raise money for The Big Brothers Big Sisters Annual Fundraiser which is “Race for the Kids”. Personally I was able to raise $25,000.00 based on the generosity of friends, neighbors, relatives, and fellow co-workers. Although I am no longer involved with the program, I have very fond memories that will last me a lifetime.

Mark with his two beautiful children, Gemma & Francesco "Cecco at the Race for the Kids.

Mark with his two beautiful children, Gemma & Francesco "Cecco at the Race for the Kids.

Mark and Team Verizon!

Mark and Team Verizon!

Today, most of my volunteering is closer to home in the Town of Westfield, New Jersey. In 2011, I was elected as the Third Ward Town Councilperson and was re-elected this past November for a second term. Westfield is the largest town in NJ where the elected officials are volunteers.

Being a Councilman requires on average 10 hours a week attending various meetings and being available to fellow residents to address community’s needs. As a councilperson, I am appointed to a number of committees including the Public Safety and Town Code Review Committees.

I also participate as a volunteer at the Westfield area Y on the International Committee and am excited about a new venture involving teaming up with the YMCA of the Cayman Islands. The collaborative involves supporting staff and program offerings including advisement and training materials.  Other global initiatives by this International Committee include providing life skills training for at-risk youth living in Thailand through the "Save a Child" program.

Who/what played/plays a role in your spirit of giving and how?

I was born and raised in Long Island and as an only child, I was particularly close to my parents growing up. I was raised to appreciate family and community, having a strong character was very important to my parents. I was blessed to have friends and extended family, I was taught to respect others and had many role models to emulate.

What do you enjoy most about giving?

What I like most about volunteering in my town is having a positive impact on the community. It is my hope that I am making a difference in the Town of Westfield and helping to give back to a community that has given me so much.

How do you incorporate giving into your family life/with your kids?

My wife Maria and I try to teach our children those same core values and most importantly, to respect others. I think we demonstrate for our children a strong sense of volunteerism and the value of giving to others. Volunteering as a family has been a lot of fun and has brought us closer as a family.

What is one piece of advice/wisdom you would like to share about giving?

Giving is a great way for the kids to increase their self-esteem and to appreciate the many gifts we share living in a great community like Westfield.

Mark, you are making a huge difference in your family, in your community, and in generations to come. Thank you for your giving!

In a Giving Rut? Here's How to Climb Out

Feeling like you're on a life-sized hamster wheel overloaded with responsibilities and projects and demands? Never have enough time or energy to think straight, let alone think about giving? Or maybe you give to the same organizations every year and feel uninspired. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. It is easy to get caught up in the busy-ness of every day life.

But let's be real. Giving makes us feel good. It can be truly therapeutic. And just like anything -- a new exercise regimen, spring cleaning, saving money -- you've got to start somewhere.

So identify one new way you can give that is enjoyable to you and just DO IT.

Make a double batch of whatever you're cooking and give half to a friend/neighbor. Participate in a community gardening project. Sign up for a 5K that benefits an organization that speaks to you. Donate that bag of clothes that has been sitting in the back of your closet. Whatever it is. Find something.

And then do it again. And again.

And then maybe enlist the company of a friend or two.

And out of that rut you have climbed.

Happy Giving!

Photo by Biletskiy_Evgeniy/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by Biletskiy_Evgeniy/iStock / Getty Images