Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Teaching children to give back

In this week’s baby bargainista column, Jenny talks about teaching her daughter to help give back to less fortunate children.

Along with holiday-related stress, the onset of the holiday season always brings thoughts of those less fortunate than ourselves. This year we decided our 5-year-old is old enough to understand the plight of the needy, in the simplest terms of course, and to join the family in giving back to the community through support of a charity.

For the past couple of years we’ve encouraged her to go through her toy collection and fill a bin with items that are still in good condition which she no longer wants or plays with, to donate to Goodwill. (As a bonus, this helps us to clear some space in our house for the new gifts Santa is bound to bring!)

This year, we started giving her a small allowance, and with a little help with the math she determined how much to set aside each week for spending, saving, and “sharing” or charity. This week we took the total “sharing” amount to the local toy store and she chose a new, unwrapped toy to give to a toy drive that the store supports.

She really seemed to enjoy the experience of picking out a toy for another child, and to understand for the first time the value of giving and helping others. Now we’re wondering how we can expand on this next year!

How do you encourage your kids to give back to the community during the holidays? At what age do you think it’s appropriate for them to volunteer their time as well as their cash?

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  1. What a great idea Jenny! Something you can work on all year round too with the way you tied in the allowance.

  2. In addition to splitting allowance among their three jars (spending, savings, charity), we have our younger daughter, who likes to go to the local market with her violin to busk, put 10% of her busking earnings into her charity jar. You might not think that's much, but you would not believe how much an eight year-old can collect in just 30 minutes of playing Suzuki music repertoire.

  3. These are great ideas, Jenny, and five is a good age. I'm also considering having my girls sponsor a girl since I think they would be able to relate to that as well: http://www.sponsoragirl.ca

  4. Thanks for the comments and ideas!

    Mark, I would *totally* believe that your daughter can charm a crowd at the local market -- great idea!

    Nic, I like the sponsor angle as well -- makes it relatable to a person rather than an abstract idea.


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