Written by: Cally Worden
Every Christmas, there is a charity trolley that hovers at the door of our local supermarket. It is asking for toy donations for orphaned children. With my kids being spoiled rotten by Santa each year, I always make a point of visiting the store with them and helping them choose and pay for a gift to place in the trolley. They usually select a gift they themselves would like (useful intelligence for Santa!) and inevitably find it tricky to give this up as we leave the store. But we do it and we talk about why. We talk about those less fortunate than we are. We talk about charity.
The Spirit of Giving
There have always been differences in the world – people who live in an affluent part of society, others who struggle to survive in abject poverty. And every stage in between. The concept of charity is nothing new, but in an age where material gain is prized it’s more important than ever to help children retain a sense of perspective and inspire them to reach out to others less fortunate than themselves. We need to inspire the spirit of giving and a sense of community via a sharing of resources. In this way we help our children grow into compassionate and caring adults.
Here are some simple ways to achieve this:
If you have an elderly neighbour encourage your child to offer them assistance. Carrying shopping, popping to the shops for them, walking their dog, raking their leaves, or simply stopping for a chat with a lonely pensioner can all make a world of difference to their life.
Give away clothes and toys
Kids grow out of outfits so fast it’s easy to find clothes that are no longer of use to you, but which another child would enjoy. Donating clothes to a charity shop is a great way to introduce your child to the concept of charity. Rummage through their wardrobes with them and help them select some clothes to give away, then take them together to your chosen charity shop.
Okay, so kids aren’t allowed to donate blood, but you can. And there is no better way to teach your children about charity than to lead by example. Show them how easy it is to make a difference. Small gestures are often the most highly prized.
Use birthdays as a focal point
Kids love to receive gifts on their birthday. So when your child is celebrating his new presents help him to choose a gift from among his existing and less-used toys and books to donate to charity. Nurture the art of giving as well as that of receiving
Expand the trolley concept
The Christmas Gift trolley is replaced during the year with those representing other charities. Collections of food for the homeless, or for pets and animals in need are popular and often seen in supermarkets across the UK. Choose items together to donate
Random acts of kindness
Challenge your child to perform a random act of kindness each week, perhaps linking their success to receipt of their pocket money. Helping someone carry their groceries, washing the car, giving time to a sibling, or helping another child who is struggling at school – it doesn’t have to be a major event, just something that encourages your child to think about others, and find ways to help
Lead by example
Volunteering is good for the soul. If you regularly or even just occasionally give of your time to help a person or a cause you are showing your child how it’s done