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Teach kids the spirit of giving

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The Christmas season is here and the holidays are fast approaching. Children hear about getting gifts and material goods from every side all day long. Friends and family discuss wish lists and the latest trends, fashions, electronics, toys, and more. Even adults contribute without realizing they are fueling the fire. Developing a giving spirit in children can be difficult when sight and sound are constantly bombarded.

In every neighborhood, people living down the street or around the corner have needs that are an opportunity to nurture a giving spirit. Giving of oneself is a free and easy way to teach kids how to give. There may be an older neighbor who would love some company, a ride to the store, someone to help push the grocery cart, carry and unpack groceries, or vacuum the carpet. Some help caring for their beloved pet (walk the dog, change the cat litter) may make it possible for them to keep an animal companion in their home.

Shoveling the walk or driveway for a neighbor as a season long gift (older person or single parent) can save them hundreds of dollars so they can afford food, medicine, or to pay bills on time. It will also help them feel safe in case of an emergency. In the spring and summer, garden tending and mowing gifts, and raking fall leaves fill the same need.
Discuss with kids that in lieu of many gifts to them, the family will use part of the Christmas budget to purchase gift cards for those in need.

Buy a gift card from a local market to give. It is probably needed by the same people above. Even if people receive government aid, it won’t cover everything. A pet store gift card is also a great gift. Kids can donate a little from their allowance or savings for parents to supplement or match so they truly are a part of the gift. Even little ones can decorate an envelope or color a card.

Kids can help shop for items to donate to the local food pantry. Call and find out what stapes they always need, or what specialty or seasonal items would help out. Don’t forget to add personal care items to the giving box, like shampoo, body wash, lotion, shampoo and conditioner. Supplemental kitchen items make great add is too, like pot holders, spices, cooking utensils or kitchen towels. Kids can have fun picking them out.

A clothing gift card makes a great gift, too. Although giving an item is great, allowing someone the choice of picking something themselves boosts self-esteem and helps maintain dignity. Volunteer to accompany them on the shopping trip and carry the packages.

A donation to a great charity instills the sense of international need. Some great ones include Doctors without Borders, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, Heifer International, Special Olympics, Habitat for Humanity, or the Red Cross. There are other near you, too that may have a local impact.

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