There are certain qualities I want to see developed in my boys. I want them to grow to be respectful of others. I want them to practice tolerance and patience. I want them to learn our beliefs as a family and in our church. And, I want them to be givers.
There are so many opportunities today to develop young philanthropists. Our church offers so many ways for children to be involved, but not everyone is as active in church as we are, nor does every church offer the opportunities ours does. Sometimes, you have to seek out your own.
Teaching children to be “givers”, or philanthropists, is quite simple. During the holidays, participate as a family in a local Blue Santa program or the Salvation Army Angel Tree. Let your children see the value in creating a nice Christmas for someone they don’t even know. If you pass by a Salvation Army kettle during the holidays, let your child put in a few coins. Food donations are a great tool throughout the year. When you are at the grocery store with your child, let them pick out several canned goods and deliver them together to the local food pantry. Help them clean out their closet of clothes that don’t fit and toys they no longer play with, then let them make a donation to the local Goodwill or thrift store. Explain to the children not only what you are doing but WHY.
A more simple and very local way to teach giving is to share with your neighbors. Bake a batch of cookies and share with an elderly neighbor or a new family. If you have a garden, share your crop with someone on your street. Sharing your time is equally as important…help a neighbor with a chore outside, offer to gather their mail or newspaper if they are going out of town.
Just remember the value in learning to give is to understand the “why”…that we are here to take care of each other and help each other, and we can do that in so many ways and on so many levels. Let children participate with you in your own charitable giving, and they will learn a lesson that will last a lifetime.