This holiday season is all about spreading joy and good cheer. For kids, that typically translates to the joy of opening presents and the good cheer from all the cookies and candy from holiday parties. And while we don’t exactly want to burst our children’s bubbles, we do also want to teach them the real message of joy and good cheer, meaning holiday philanthropy, especially when it comes to spreading that to people who might be less fortunate than us.
It’s an easy time to instill philanthropy into our children’s psyches and truly the perfect season to give to others. So it’s a win-win for sure. And even once the holiday season is over, there’s no saying that many of these ideas don’t translate well into the new year.
Here at The List we give some top ways you can turn your little guys into caring people with big hearts.
Teaching Your Kids to Volunteer
1. Organize a Coat Drive
There are some families who find themselves with closets full of clothes that no longer fit. They either get handed down or donated to various in-need organizations. Speak to your school officials about hosting a coat drive at your school where families can bring in items that no longer fit and then team up with a local chapter of Goodwill, the Salvation Army, or a local church or synagogue who can disperse the goods to those who need it.
2. Cook for a Soup Kitchen
Take your kids to the supermarket with you and have them help shop for the items on your list. When you get home, they can help cook and then deliver and maybe even serve meals to families in need, depending on the venue. This is especially meaningful if you and your child deliver and serve on a holiday itself so you are spreading the holiday joy on the days it counts most.
3. Read Stories at the Hospital
For older children, this idea is very touching. Contact your local hospital to discover what programs are in place for members of the community. Different hospital policies vary in terms of patient exposure, but hopefully you will find something that you and your child can do, whether it’s reading books to kids in the hospital or organizing a bunch of friends to pack up art supply bags that you can deliver to the children’s ward.
4. Use their Skills
If your children are dancers, musicians, or any kind of performers, then they and their friends can spread a lot of happiness just by visiting places and strutting their stuff. Contact local nursing homes or homes for those people with special needs and arrange a performance. They can sing, dance, play a piano piece—the smiles on the residents faces as well as your child’s will make them ask to do it again for years to come without you even suggesting it.
5. Remember Disaster Victims
Long after headlines have left an area, victims of natural disasters (think Hurricane Sandy, earthquakes in Japan and Haiti, etc) are often still copying with upheaval in their lives. Talk to friends, relatives, associates and have kids do a bake sale, lemonade stand or other homegrown fundraiser to raise money for donations of gifts, supplies, and money to send to organizations still assisting in affected areas.
For more on giving and teaching your kids philanthropy, visit Poshmom.