This holiday season, as you look around in gratitude for all that you've been given, don't just give back yourself; get your kids involved with the giving process too. Teaching your children to give generously is a great way to encourage them to genuinely see the needs around them, become involved in their community, and grow into adults who also make that effort to give back. If you're looking for ways to increase these traits in your kids, get them involved as you contribute throughout your community! Even though they probably don't have finances they can contribute, there are several projects you can get involved with along with your kids.
1. Volunteer as a bell ringer.
The Salvation Army is always looking for bell ringers during the holiday season - and that's something you and your child can do together! Take the time to talk about the cause and why you're willing to donate your time to the organization. With just an hour or two, you can make a big impact together.
2. Donate to a local food bank.
During the holidays, food banks are more important than ever. Not only is it colder outside, which means that people need warm food that will stick to their ribs, but with the holidays coming, many families are struggling to come up with the funds for holiday meals and gifts. That means that food pantries need donations more than ever! When you donate to a food pantry, don't just clean out your cabinets of the items that you haven't used. Instead, purchase or donate foods that people will genuinely enjoy eating. Talk with your child about why it's important to donate the things that they would want to have if they were in need. There are plenty of great food banks in Pittsburgh to choose from:
- Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank
- Second Harvest Food Bank
- Squirrel Hill Community Food Pantry
- Northside Food Pantry
3. Donate a toy through Toys for Tots.
If your child is fortunate enough to receive more gifts than they know what to do with during the holiday season, consider choosing a toy for a child that isn't so fortunate. Get your child involved with choosing an age-appropriate toy for a child just like them. This is also a great way to learn more about the items on your own child's wish list for Christmas.
4. Fill a shoe box for Operation Christmas Child.
Talk with your child about the things they take for granted, but which the recipients of these shoe boxes will love to have: warm hats and gloves, toothbrushes, toiletry items, and even small toys. Take your child along with you to fill a shoe box for a child in their age range.
5. Donate to Bethlehem Haven.
This incredible organization offers support services to women who are, for whatever reason, struggling to find their way again. They may need housing, legal support, food, and a wide range of other services, and Bethlehem Haven is there to provide them. This is another great opportunity to talk with your child about just how lucky they are and how grateful they should be for the shelter and support they count on every day.
Finding the right way to give back over the holiday season can be a challenge. Think about your child's age, maturity, and his or her specific needs, then choose a cause that speaks to your heart. You might just find that opening your heart and your wallet creates a very real change in your child during this holiday season as they get a better look at the way others live.