I am a big believer that children can and should get involved in charity at an early age. But I also know first hand how busy life with young children can be. Often we end up so focused on the day to day of sippy cups and diapers, shoe tying and nose wiping, that the thought of adding one more thing to our to-do list is simply overwhelming.
Yet, since raising kind, concerned world citizens is central to our core values, I knew it was necessary to incorporate charity into our family life, but in a way that was natural and easy to maintain. Here are 6 easy ways that we have found to get our kids involved in giving back to our community. Share your ideas in the comments!
6 Easy Ways for Kids to Get Involved in Charity
1. Keep a box in the closet for donations: With two growing boys, it seems like I am constantly finding clothes that no longer fit or toys that have lost their novelty. Now I keep a box in the closet to collect such items, and when it is full, we make a trip to the nearest drop-off center for our local charity. It’s easy to do, plus seeing that box there reminds me to keep an eye out for items that we can spare! It can be a good teaching tool for children as well: Some families have a one-in-one-out rule for toys, where children choose a toy to donate for each new toy they receive.
2. Throw a party: Having a birthday party for your child? Or a sleepover over a long weekend? Whatever the occasion, you can tie it to charity by getting the kids excited about a service project or collecting donations for a favorite charity. We have often asked that kids bring a canned good with them to our birthday parties, for example, which my boys later help me to deliver to a local non-profit. Think your kids wouldn’t go for it? You’d be surprised! Here is a wonderful how-to for collecting charitable donations at a birthday party. And you can also read about kids having a blast while doing a service project at a party. Never underestimate the power of collective enthusiasm from those young idealists – it is contagious! And it’s also a great way to reinforce the idea that special occasions aren’t just about getting but about giving, too.
3. Make a family donation: Often for the boys’ birthdays we let them pick a charity for us to make a financial donation in their name. Never mind that the donation is modest, the boys get excited that they get to pick where to donate. It is wonderful to see their excitement, and the decision-making process is a good way for them to begin to think critically about what causes are important to them.
4. Follow their lead: Let your children take the initiative in choosing a charity to get involved in. If they are interested in animals or concerned about the environment, for example, look for organizations dedicated to related causes. If they have seen about a disaster in the news, getting involved in helping those affected can also help them process the event by doing something positive to help. Here is a wonderful example of a mother and two young boys who got involved in the relief effort after the Oklahoma tornadoes.
5. Join a kindness club: If you have school age children, be on the lookout for a kindness club at their school. We are lucky enough to have one at our school, plus some friends from our local Bahá’í community started a no-cost kindness camp for kids over the summer. Our character building class has also done several service projects together, like cleaning up a park and painting vases to donate to elderly patients at a local hospice. Often these groups encourage kids to do acts of kindness at school or at home and sponsor fundraisers or collection drives for local charities. And they are really fun! Again, what a powerful way to harness that collective enthusiasm and energy for a good cause! And if you don’t have a kindness club at your school, start one yourself!
6. Declare a Random Acts of Kindness Day: Of course we try to incorporate charity into our lives throughout the year, but events are also fun and can help kids focus on the idea of giving back. So pick a day – whether once a month or once a year – that you can dedicate to performing acts of kindness. For example, one year my preschooler and I delivered cookies to the local fire department and our local library, donated books to the children’s hospital, and left chocolates for our mail carrier and doctor’s office. And we had so much fun doing it together!
The Chain of Betters project from Western Union empowers people with the opportunity to change the lives of others. Together we can create a chain of good deeds and start to change lives in ways we wouldn’t have imagined was possible. Watch this amazing video about ordinary people bringing this concept to life!
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.