I participated in a campaign on behalf of Influence Central for The Salvation Army. I will receive a promotional item as a thank you for participating.
This time of the year, kids are all about the gifts. It seems with every toy commercial they see on tv, my children’s Christmas wish list gets longer and longer. While Christmas can be a magical time for a child, I want them to learn that there is also joy in giving to others. Each holiday season, I encourage my kids to come up with ways that we can give a little something to those less fortunate. If you are looking for ways to help your children think of others this holiday season, here are 5 simple ways you and your family can give something back to those in need.
Donate to a local food pantry.
Help your child go through your pantry for canned and boxed goods and take the donations to your local food pantry. Use this as an opportunity to teach your child that not everyone has enough food to eat. Ask your child to help think of other ways your family could help people who don’t have enough food to eat.
Help out your local homeless or battered women shelter.
A few years ago, my oldest daughter’s Girl Scout troop did a service project where they babysat for children of parents from the local Red Cross Emergency Shelter. These were families who had lost their homes to the tornado that hit a nearby town. The girls played with the children and watched them for a few hours while the parents had a few hours to deal with insurance and paperwork, look for an apartment, and get their lives back in order. Your local shelter may offer a similar opportunity for your family to volunteer.
In addition, shelters are always looking for donations. Call your local shelter and see what they can use. Then help gather up donations as a family. Use this as an opportunity to teach your child that not everyone has a roof over their heads and encourage them to think of other ways that your family can help those who are homeless.
Make handmade Christmas cards to brighten someone’s day.
Pull out your craft supplies and help your kids make Christmas cards. Then you can distribute these cards to local nursing home residents. You would be amazed at how many nursing home residents there are who don’t get visitors regularly. You could also send the cards to our military troops who are serving overseas and won’t be home with their families for the holidays. Use this as an opportunity to teach your child that not everyone is able to have family all around them for the holidays and encourage them to think of other ways that they can brighten the day of someone who may be lonely over the holidays.
Look for ways to help in your own neighborhood.
There are many people right within your own neighborhood who could use a helping hand this holiday season. As a family make a list of people in your neighborhood who are going through a hard time and the ways you could help. Here are some ideas to get you started. Shovel the snow off the driveway of an elderly couple. Make a meal for a family who has been struggling with illness. Offer to babysit for a few hours for a single mom in your neighborhood. Use this as an opportunity to teach your child that we all go through hard times in life and it is a blessing to be able to help someone out in their time of need.
Donate through your local Salvation Red Kettle campaign.
Have your child go through their clothes, books, movies, and toys and pull out anything that they have outgrown or no longer want. Take it to a consignment or secondhand shop that pays cash on the spot. Let your child drop the proceeds in a Salvation Red Kettle. Use this as an opportunity to teach your child about how the Salvation Army helps those in need in your community and around the country. Encourage your child to think of other ways they might be able to come up with money to donate to the Salvation Army. For example, they could donate a percentage of their allowance or they could do extra chores to earn money to put in the Red Kettle.
Many years ago, my pastor was giving a sermon and told us about how the Salvation Army got started. One thing that really impressed me was that the founder, William Booth, started the Salvation Army to help others help themselves. The Salvation Army has been helping people in need worldwide for nearly 150 years.
The Salvation Army helps the less fortunate in many ways- providing meals to the needy, giving the homeless a place to sleep, providing disaster relief, helping substance abusers get rehabilitation, and much more. What you donate in your local Red Kettle remains in your own community to provide assistance to those who need it most.
Ever since I learned of the origins of the Salvation Army, I have made it a point to drop a few coins in the Salvation Army Red Kettle any time I pass one. Now that my kids are older, they have adopted this practice as well. It’s not always a lot – maybe a few coins each time, but if everyone does that, it really can add up over the course of the holiday season.
Will you and your children be making a donation in one of the Salvation Army’s Red Kettles this holiday season? If so, the Salvation Army wants you to share the reason behind your giving. I encourage you to post on your favorite social media channels sharing your reasons for donating to the Salvation Army Red Kettle campaign using the the hashtag #RedKettleReason. Donors can view their posts and those of others all across the country at RedKettleReason.org. It’s truly inspirational to see how many others are giving this holiday season and to read the reasons behind their donations.
So tell me… How do you encourage your children to give back during the holiday season? Be sure to share your thoughts and ideas by leaving a comment below. I hope you and your family are having a blessed holiday season!