Teaching a child the concept of charity from an early age is an invaluable gift that lasts a lifetime. My experience has been that children who are taught the art of giving are much more likely to become adults who continue to contribute to society. This was how I was brought up and I led by example with my own children so they would engage early on with the idea of giving. The trick is finding easy and fun ways for your child to contribute.
I have listed my top tips for getting children excited about charity…
Finding a charity close to your heart
Finding a charity that resonates is often a direct result of life experiences. Causes may change over the years but the reason for giving is usually very personal. Children are less likely to naturally resonate with causes given their lack of life experience but school often provides a meaningful way of introducing the idea of supporting a cause, be it through studying communities in less fortunate parts of the world, endangered wildlife or the environment. Compiling a list of charities that might appeal to your child and explaining each one to them is another way of getting them involved. Letting them pick the charity they want to support will help them to be passionate about what they are doing and they are more likely to want to continue to make a difference.
How to support
There are many ways to support charities depending on the needs of the organisation. You can normally find this information directly on their website but we have listed a few child friendly ideas below…
Start a charity jar – Ask your child if they would be willing to donate a portion of their pocket money each week to the jar. If they say yes, it will show them what they are giving up in order to give to people whose needs are greater. Doing extra chores like washing the car or helping you to cook in return for a donation from you to their charity is a fun and instructive way for them to raise money for the jar.
When the jar is full and if your charity is local, you can take the donation to the charity together so your child can see where the money is going. This way they also get a chance to interact with someone from the charity and feel like they are really making a difference.
Donate – It is easy to just throw out clothing and toys when your child is done with them. Instead sit down with your child and go through each item of their wardrobe and toy cupboard. Ask them if they would be willing to give things they no longer need to another child who needs it more. This helps to teach them about sustainability as well as charity.
The shoebox scheme – Every year around Christmas the shoe box scheme is promoted. This was set up to help less fortunate children during the holiday season. The idea is that each child gets to fill a shoe box with various things such as tooth brushes, books, pencils and toys. These boxes then get donated to children in need all over the world. This can be a fun activity for your child as they get to pick what goes in the box. They can be encouraged to add their favorite book or sweets so they can share it with the child who receives their box. Asking your child to include a Christmas card adds a personal touch.
Helping the elderly – As an after-school activity or at the weekends, visiting a retirement home is a lovely way for your child to interact with and learn from another generation. Schemes are in place that enable you to go and chat or have tea with residents. Not only will your child make somebody’s week but they will also have the chance to build a relationship with someone who might no longer have friends or family.
Birthday donations – Children’s birthdays are normally filled with an excess of presents, food and decorations. Pack up the leftovers and donate them to a homeless shelter or soup kitchen. Going to help serve the people who come that evening is a great way of completing the gift.
This year you could suggest to your child that they ask their friends to bring books or toys that can be donated to a local orphanage or library instead of a usual gift. After the party you can go together to donate them personally. Experiencing the joy of giving and the endorphins it releases is the greatest way of teaching the gift of giving.