Teaching Your Child About Giving Instead of Getting at the Holidays

Andrea Evans
December 16, 2011

We all know the wisdom of the old adage "it is better to give than to receive," but it rings true during the holidays more so than at any other time of year. As a parent, you know that there is nothing better than seeing your child's face light up when she opens up a brand new present. Her happiness more than makes up for the fact that you got a navy blue sweater... for the third year in a row. But some families aren't as fortunate. This year, in particular, with mounting job losses and financial strain, many more families simply do not have the resources to buy gifts for their children. And charities all over the country are reporting a decrease in giving, so they are unable to fill the gap. We know that you may be feeling the financial pinch as well. Everyone is worried about their financial security. But you do not need to break the bank to help. Even a small donation can help a child experience the magic of the holidays.

One way to help your child begin to learn the value of charitable giving is to allow him to experience it for himself. Give your child one dollar or five dollars or ten dollars, and let him decide how he wishes to donate it. Take your child to the mall and let her pick an ornament from the Angel Tree. And then let her help you pick out the item and return it to the bin. Let your child feel as though he or she is making a difference—that it truly is better to give than to receive.

There are many wonderful organizations that could use our help. We hope that you will take some time to consider their requests.

Toys for Tots Literacy Program. Toys for Tots, famous for organizing toy drives, has launched a literacy campaign. Go to any participating UPS or Mailboxes, Etc. store and donate $1. That dollar will be used to buy books for underprivileged children.

Room to Read. A non-profit organization that partners with local communities throughout the developing world to provide educational opportunities by establishing libraries, computer labs, and donating books. Their goal is to reach 10 million children. Log on to see if you can help them reach their goal.

Feeding America (formerly known as Second Harvest). This organization reports that 1 in every 8 Americans is facing hunger. A $1 donation to Feeding America helps provide twenty pounds of food to hungry people in America. They can also direct you to the food bank closest to your home, if you'd prefer a more hands-on way of getting involved.

KivaKiva provides micro-loans to people across the globe, helping them help themselves.  For just $25, your child can help someone start a small business that will provide a service to their community and generate income for their family. Once the business is off the ground, your $25 will be repaid, and you can choose another person to lend to.  

Breakfast for Learning. This non-profit organization is dedicated to supporting child nutrition programs in Canada. Donations to Breakfast for Learning help to buy breakfast, lunches, and snacks for children across Canada, allowing them to focus on learning and make the most of the school day.

Starlight Children's Foundation. Founded to help seriously sick children, Starlight uses its donations to build hospital playrooms, throw parties in hospitals, and even bring entertainers directly to the children. They also distribute hundreds of thousands of books and toys each year, hoping to alleviate some of the pain and fear that comes with a prolonged illness.

From the Parents

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