As parents, sometimes we can feel overwhelmed by finding ways for our children to give back, especially when we have limited time and budget. The reality of life is that sometimes we are fortunate enough to give a lot (of time, money, etc.) and sometimes we can only give a little. And that’s OK. We can give back, give thanks, or do both depending on life circumstances at that time.
It’s important to give to our family, friends, community and environment — and even more important to instill generosity in our children. Here’s a list of tangible and budget-friendly ideas to allow your kids the opportunity to give this season and beyond.
Writing Letters or Decorating Cards
Writing and decorating handwritten cards or notes to give to teachers, coaches, mentors, service members (like fire or police department), children in the hospital and other organizations to thank them or wish them a wonderful holiday is an easy way to give back.
Samantha Jeffries, of Mentor, has had her young girls make handmade cards for the Lake County Council on Aging (LCCOA) for a couple years now. She started out assisting the organization with packing meals but eventually that became difficult with two young children in tow. Now, she organizes monthly “Playdates with a Purpose” with other moms and children locally. They create cards that are given to seniors in the Meals on Wheels program.
“Many seniors will display the cards… and smile every time they see it,” says Linda Llewellyn, community engagement and volunteer specialist at LCCOA.
Playing Games with the Elderly
Most families know someone who lives in a nursing home. Consider making a visit this holiday season and let your child play their favorite card or board game with them.
Donating to a Local Animal Shelter
Consider donating food, blankets, toys and household items to the local animal shelter in your area. Tip: it’s best to check the shelter’s needs before making purchases.
Donating a Used Toy
Most children have at least two used toys or books (still in good condition) that they could donate to charity or gift to another child who might enjoy it.
Perform a Gift Drive
Let your child select an organization that means a lot to them and ask that some gifts be donated in their name to that charity this holiday season.
Add a Birdhouse and Feeder to Your Yard
A birdhouse provides safety from predators and warmth in winter months. A bird feeder helps non-migrating birds find food in the winter. Not to mention, kids love to watch nature in their own backyards. There are inexpensive bird houses that you can purchase and many easy DIY bird feeders — just search on the web for ideas.
Picking up Trash
Whenever you go outside, bring a trash bag and gloves with you and make it a habit to pick up trash. This helps declutter the environment and protects local wildlife and plants.
Help a Neighbor with Yardwork
If your child is old enough, they can help someone in your neighborhood who might need assistance with compost collection (leaves, sticks, etc.), shoveling snow, cutting grass or planting new plants in their yard.
Kristen Antosh is a local writer and blogger of Momgineering the Future.