Christmas heartWe try to encourage our children to be their kindest, most generous selves all year round, but during the holiday season, numerous opportunities arise for thankfulness and giving back. Allowing your child to participate with you as you contribute to the people in your community who need extra help, or to those who you appreciate for what they do each day, can teach a young child a great deal about both gratitude and selflessness.

  1. One of the most common ways that families can give back to their communities is to donate canned goods for a food drive organized by a local church, school, police station, or firehouse. Think about what might be sustaining for families in need. Soups containing protein-rich ingredients like lentils or chicken are a great idea, and canned soups and pastas can be appealing to young children.
  2. Household items are also important to donate this time of year, as homeless shelters begin to become more crowded around the holidays. Many shelters may be short on blankets, towels, and toiletry items. Check with your local shelter to ask what items may be needed this time of year.
  3. If you really want to involve your children in the process, choose a charity together which your family would like to donate to financially. Young children may not be familiar with the idea of charity organizations, so you can explain to them what various organizations do to feed people locally and worldwide, provide medical care, or help to provide housing. Once you’ve decided on a charity, you can decide on an amount to give together.
  4. Animals shelters often need more supplies than just food. Pet bedding, toys, and brushes are needed, but often these shelters are operating on such a minimal budget that basics like paper towels and other cleaning supplies frequently run short. Ask a local shelter what they might need right now.
  5. A sweet way of letting your children express their gratitude to their community is to have them bake something sweet for people in your community who you’d like to give back to this time of year. That might be teachers, or it could be your local fire station or police officers. If your child has frequent doctor’s appointments, it might be the receptionist who always greets you. Think creatively about who you appreciate most in your community, and ask your children to bake and deliver items with you.

Does your family have a holiday tradition of giving back to the community? How do you involve your children each year? Let us know in the comments section; your actions may inspire others!