In today’s tough economic times, charities are finding their funding decreasing while the need for their services is growing. But how can we give to others when our own financial resources are pulled thin? More importantly, how can we teach our children the benefits of sharing with those in need when our budgets are stretched to the limit? Here are four free or low cost ways to teach your child the power of giving.
- Recycle Aluminum: Save aluminum cans for recycling and donate the money to your child’s favorite charity. Take your child with you when you go to the recycling center. Let her send the donation in her name. Suggest she enclose a drawing, picture, or personal note with the funds. Most charities will send a thank you note. Kids love getting mail addressed to them. Or if it is a local charity, like your local Humane Society, the donation can be delivered in person.
2. Food Banks: When you take your child grocery shopping, give her $2.00 to use to purchase nonperishable items for the food bank. Teach her how to select the best value. (Example: a box of brand name macaroni & cheese is $1.09, but the store brand mac & cheese is on sale for 2/$1.00) Ask your child to point out any buy one-get one free item you’d normally buy. Donate the free item. Take your child with you when you take the groceries to the Food Bank so she can see the outcome of her efforts. (Bonus: This activity teaches money management, math, and comparative shopping skills)
3. Phone cards, gift cards, credits from companies: Some airline frequent flyer programs offer free magazines subscriptions. Check women or teen shelters for what periodicals would appeal to them. Send gardening magazines to an elderly neighbor that loves gardening, but is on a fixed income. Cutbacks in funding have resulted in schools having to trim the number of periodicals they buy for students. Call your child’s school and ask what magazines are needed. Have your child select a magazine from the school’s approved list. Donate a subscription in your child’s name.
4. Elderly: If you’re going to the post office, grocery store, or pharmacy, have an older child ask your elderly neighbors if they need items like stamps, milk, or medications picked up. Have your child deliver it to neighbor and receive the kudos. Going for a walk with your child? Offer to walk a shut-in’s pet.
These are only a few suggestions of easy, free or low-cost ways to teach your child to learn to share. You can think of ways to add to the list. Many donations are tax deductible. Check with your accountant.
One of the greatest benefits in teaching our children to help others is the feeling of empowerment they’ll get with every grateful smile and every “Thank you” they receive. They’ll grow up knowing that regardless of their age, income, or station in life, they have the power to help their fellow human beings. What a great gift to give our children.
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