This is the third post in my 3 things series, a series of posts full of heartfelt encouragement for moms and dads.
Would you like your children to learn about those less fortunate? Here are some ideas for ways to get the family involved in charitable pursuits, even when your kids are little.
Even though my kids are 7, 4, and 2, I like to be able to show them the world is full of people in need. Through my work on the board of a non-profit that sends home food with underprivileged children, I am in a unique position to understand the needs of a small nonprofit and how families can get involved.
3 Ways to Give Back as a Family When You Have Small Children
The little ones may not understand at first, but with repeated exposure to the needs of others, they will eventually start to understand.
- Conduct a food drive in your neighborhood/at church/with some friends to fill a gap in food pantry inventory. Food pantries often operate on donations and food purchased from warehouse stores. Their food needs will vary, but one thing will be constant – there is always something they could use more of. For us, it’s peanut butter jars and fresh fruit. For another pantry, it could be macaroni & cheese. Just ask someone in charge of food drives, and they should be able to give you a list of needed items.
- Help an elderly neighbor with yard work or home maintenance. This is a simple idea but fills a real need in a way little ones can help. So many elderly men and women live alone in houses that they can’t tend to properly. Maybe their weeds are getting out of control, or they need helping panting a fence, or they just need a few pretty flowers planted around the mailbox. A little gesture will go a long way and teach your kids the importance of caring for those who can no longer take care of themselves.
- Buy supplies for a local women’s shelter. While I don’t talk to my children about the abuse situations that cause many women to retreat to shelters with their children, I do explain that some people (including other children) don’t have homes and can use our help. Then we go on a small shopping trip to buy some necessities like shampoo, soap, toothbrushes, etc. I let them help me pick out the items so they have to think through what it might be like to not have a home of their own.
As you participate in any charitable endeavor, talk to your kids ahead of time to let them know what you’re about to do, continue the conversation leading up to the event day, and then keep the conversation going after the fact.