Today more than ever, we as a society who find ourselves entering a period of increased social awareness, one where giving back, effecting change and making a positive difference in the lives of those less fortunate, both in our communities and around the globe, are concepts that are becoming more prevalent.
As parents raising tomorrow’s leaders, we may find ourselves asking what it is that we want to instil in our children when it comes to giving back. What qualities and values do we want them to grow up with and internalize? What is the legacy that we want to leave in this regard? It may seem like an overwhelming task, but teaching our children to give back and become responsible global citizens can actually be fun and educational for the entire family.
Here are some ideas:
1. Donate to a charitable organization. Consider making a donation to one of the many great causes. Start by looking at those that are near and dear to your heart. Discuss with your children how donations to a charitable organization are used. Where possible, show them where the money goes, the programs it funds and the difference it makes in the lives of those affected. It’s important to involve your children in the selection process when deciding which charities to support and you may even want to allow your kids to choose a charity themselves.
2. Sponsor a child. Make a lasting difference by sponsoring a child in a developing nation. There are numerous organizations that can assist your family in connecting with a child in need for as little as $20 per month. Your monthly contribution will create opportunities for a brighter future by providing the child with essentials such as education, food, clean water, clothing and medical support. Lead a family discussion on what life for these beautiful children must be like. Most organizations provide updates and send letters written by the child you sponsor. Encourage your children to send pictures and letters in return. Not only will this be fun and educational, it will allow your children to connect with that child on a level that only another child can.
3. Provide micro-loans. Look into organizations that facilitate micro-lending to entrepreneurs and micro-businesses in developing nations. This form of giving is quickly becoming recognized as a powerful and effective way to give back. Educate your children on the different opportunities that are available. Explain what a loan as little as $25 can mean to an individual, their family and community. With your children, set aside an evening to browse the possibilities and choose a business that you would like to lend to. This can be an excellent way to teach your children about supporting hardworking entrepreneurs in different areas of the world.
4. Volunteer at your local homeless shelter or food bank. Consider spending a couple of hours with your family volunteering at your local homeless shelter or food bank. Caring about the homeless in your community and spending time assisting them is a true act of kindness. It’s also a great opportunity to bond as a family and educate your children as to how powerful the gift of time can be.
5. Donate clothes and toys. With your children, spend some time cleaning out closets and toy boxes. Take time to explain to them that some children seldom experience the joy of receiving gifts of toys and clothes, and discuss what that must feel like. Donate the clothes and toys that are no longer needed to organizations such as your local women’s shelter. Those who cannot afford clothes and toys will be blessed by the generosity of your family.
6. Fundraisers. Sign up as a family and take part in an organized fundraiser. No matter what community or city you live in, there are a multitude of opportunities to choose from. As a family, take turns deciding which events you would like to participate in and support. Book drives, bake sales and car washes, just to name a few, will allow the entire family to have fun while raising money, meeting new people and giving back in a meaningful way.
7. Spend an afternoon at a seniors’ home. Make arrangements as a family to spend an afternoon at a seniors’ home. Many residents in seniors’ homes find themselves with no close or living relatives. For them, life can become lonely. Sit down with your children and discuss how that must feel. Spending time with seniors can include anything from playing cards or board games to something as simple as sitting and listening to them share their life stories and experiences. It can be a wonderful opportunity to bring happiness and joy to the lives of the elderly.
To sum up, teaching our children about contribution and what it truly means to give back and make a difference can be one of the most rewarding experiences that we as parents can have. By involving our children in the process, leading family discussions and educating them on the many ways to contribute, we allow them to learn and grow. When they become engaged in giving back, they begin to find the causes that they personally connect with and are passionate about, and they realize that they are capable of making a positive impact on the lives of others in their community and in other parts of the world. When we make giving back a part of our family’s life, we find that the process of giving is a wonderful gift to ourselves and to our family. In giving, we receive.
Tyson is a social entrepreneur and philanthropist who has a goal to see the end of extreme poverty in his lifetime. By presenting a variety of opportunities aimed at providing an education for all children, he helps individuals create experiences of a lifetime through volunteer projects around the globe.
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