Today is Giving Tuesday, a day devoted to charitable giving of all kinds and to all places. And the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve is full of opportunities, both big and small, to give to others and give back to our communities or to a favorite cause.
Let’s not let it stop there.
Let’s teach charity as part of our curriculum year-round.
There are 5 easy ways to show kids how to give back.
- Toy Donations: Children who are fleeing war or an abusive household, who have lost their home or need to be taken care of by the state are all missing that element of fun and comfort that toys and stuffed animals can provide. As your children (or students) outgrow their toys, provide a large bin to collect them. When it’s full, contact a charity to arrange for pick-up for drop-off.
- Clothing Donations: Kids outgrow clothes like it’s going out of style. With very small kids, there is minimal wear or tear. Even with bigger kids, a lot of those clothes are in awesome condition. Instead of trashing them, pass them on to someone in need. During the winter months especially, many kids (and grown ups) are hurting for warm coats, hats, mittens, and scarves. Put up a Mitten Tree in your school, neighborhood, community center, church, or at play group to collect warm things to donate.
- Baby gear: In the rush to help school aged children and adults, babies and toddlers are often left out. Any person who has had a child in diapers knows just how fast those things go, and how much they cost. Now imagine that you have to pick between food and diapers, or formula and diapers, or medicine or diapers. What choice would you make?
- Volunteer: There are thousands of organizations that need volunteers year-round. During the holidays, soup kitchens and homeless shelters are inundated with people wanting to help. But there might not be as many people in the summer or spring. Sign up for a schedule of shifts to help provide consistent coverage. While this might not be ideal to organize as a class, this is something a family could sign up for. Or a school could adopt a soup kitchen or shelter as a year-long project.
- Let the Kids Choose: Every year, when we start talking about Civil Rights, or animals and habitats, or anything really, the kids get passionate about it. They want to make a difference in any way they can. This is a perfect opportunity to very concretely connect charity, activism, and learning. Encourage the children to narrow their focus (rainforests, whales, Syrian refugees, whatever they care about) and research the BEST ways to help that situation improve. They can use the books to find out about the background of the problem, then do research on the internet to locate the best charities. Next, the kids can make a plan to raise funds or collect items and complete the charitable donation(s). When children make those personal connections to learning and giving, the impact is even more profound than if parents or teacher lead them.
There are so, so many ways to give back to others, to our communities, and to the world. Teachers, you can incorporate so much of this into your classroom culture and teaching. Parents, you can create a culture of giving and charity at home.
We live in a world that is interconnected and shrinking. What happens in Paris affects us here in the US. What happens here, impacts those in Afghanistan. We must work to teach compassion to our children so that this world becomes kinder and more accepting of the vast rainbow of humanity.
How do you teach charity to your students or in your family?