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Buffalo charity 101: Ways to teach our children to care for others

Join forces with your children to give to others this holiday season.
Join forces with your children to give to others this holiday season.
Stock Xchng / Lusi

Now that we've entered November, holiday planning will be in full swing.  It is so easy during this time to become overwhelmed by all we have to do.  Whether it is baking cookies for our children's class or figuring out how to pay for all the gifts, this is one of the most stressful times of year.  What better way to step back a bit and remind ourselves of how blessed we are than to give to others.  Donating your time, money, and energy into helping a few charities this holiday season will teach your children a great lesson.  Believe it or not, it will most likely change you as well.

As single parents, we've all struggled with finances.  Many of us have been the recipients of handed down clothing from friends or family, and we know how helpful it can be.  One local charity organization, Coats 4 Kids, helps to collect new or gently-used coats and give them to children in need.  The Coats 4 Kids campaign began just last week on October 26th and runs until November 30th.  Coats can be dropped off at one of 60 local dry cleaning businesses, where they will be cleaned and distributed to local kids.  If someone you know is in need of coats for their children, you can check out their list of distribution sites and dates.  The first one is planned for November 9th in Hamburg.

Another way to give to our local community is by supporting the Food Bank of WNY.  According to their site, the Food Bank serves over 100,000 people and 1 million pounds of food monthly.  Since the holidays are typically celebrated with lavish feasts, there is no better time of year to donate.  To help them, you can donate your time, money or food products.  There is a list on their website of ways you can volunteer.  Children may not be suited for all areas, but older teens could pitch in.  Monetary donations are accepted through their website, or by printing an application and faxing it in.  My personal favorite way to get children involved is to participate in an event like the upcoming 97 Rock for Food Drive.  The drive will be held November 19th - 25th in the Rosa's parking lot at Union and Galleria Drive.  97 Rock DJ Jikster will be spending this time in a trailer there to collect non-perishable items and turkeys for Thanksgiving.  Have your children join in your next shopping trip and pick out what they would like to give.  Then accompany them during the drive and have them give back.  They will be proud of their work.

Lastly, don't overlook your place of worship.  Many sponsor food drives for members of the church who need help providing their holiday meal.  To teach your children to care for those far away, consider donating items to give to other countries.  Operation Christmas Child, which gives children in other countries Christmas presents, is sponsored by a few local Churches.  The idea of the gift drive is to fill a shoe box with small gift items for children in need.  Often, the age goup and sex of the child is stated so you can cater to them.  Try giving your child $10 or $20 to purchase whatever they'd like to give.  Knowing they are helping others just like them helps them to understand compassion.  The national collection week for this organization is November 16th through the 23th.  There is a list of local drop off locations on their site.

It may sound cheesy, but volunteering your time, money and energy to help others just feels right.  Taking an hour or two out of your hectic schedule may be tough, but you will gain so much more.  Including your children in the experience helps bond you together and builds compassion and understanding. 

Please take the time to visit the websites of the few charities I've listed below and consider giving to just one.  Remember, most of these cater to families in our area of Western New York.

             COATS 4 KIDS                      FOOD BANK OF WNY            OPERATION CHRISTMAS CHILD


  • Jackie O'Malley, Buffalo Single Moms Examiner 5 years ago

    I'd love to hear of other local charities or opportunities to volunteer. Is there one that you do every year? Or someone who could use our support? Let me know!