Friday, March 8, 2013

Five Things: Charitable Children Edition

That thing in her hand is her ponytail. I know you can't
really see it, but she wouldn't let me take another.
You know, I try to raise good kids. I really do. Sometimes I forget in the daily drive to survive until nightfall, but I really do. Recently someone asked me why I volunteer. The answer to that is that I think I should. I actually don't think I do nearly enough. The way I put is it this: I believe that we all owe the world something. We can pay it with money or we can pay it with time and I can't afford much money.

While most of the things that go on inside my head are a little cray-cray, this is actually one that I want to pass on to my kids. To that end, I've been thinking more and more about getting my kids involved in charity. The problem is that when kids volunteer, it usually means more work/time/investment for parents. Here are some things we've done in the past to keep the impact high and the commitment low.

Five Ideas to Help Your Kids Be Charitable - with Money or Time

1. Locks of Love - Locks of Love is a nonprofit that provides quality hairpieces to kids with long-term medical issues that lead to hair loss. It's a neat charity that helps kids understand a few things: you can help people with things you barely knew you had, everybody wants to feel normal, and maybe most importantly, everyone is facing a different set of challenges. To donate to Locks of Love, you need 10 inches of non-bleached hair cut in a ponytail. Click here to see a more detailed list of requirements. I've given to Locks of Love three times and this past week, Maren made her first donation. It can be hard to not give up when you're trying to grow an extra ten inches (or in Maren's case, when you have a mommy who can't remember to make you a hair appointment - for months), but it's pretty much worth it.

2. Community Clean-Ups - Once a year, my super-small town has a "clean-up day." This is the day set aside to get the streets, parks and common areas ready for spring and summer. Everyone is invited to participate and pick up trash, plant flowers and give everything a spit and polish. Brynna and I have participated a couple of years. If possible, this year, we're all three going. It's a reminder that these things don't happen by themselves. Someone has to pick up the litter, tend the plants, make sure the equipment is still safe and that the bathrooms are clean. It also gives them a sense of ownership over their communities.

3. Animal Shelters - Did you know that most animal shelters need help walking dogs? We've never done this, but it seems like a really fun family activity. Especially for a dogless family like ours. Other things that kids can do for animal shelters are sew small pillows for cats to nap on, gather food and treats and paint doggy bandannas for adoption fairs. (Just call and ask the shelter first to make sure that what you want to do is actually needed.)

4. Spend-Save-Give - Brynna has been getting an allowance for about a month. I really struggled with allowance. But finally settled on a method and amount that works for both of us. Then, I set out the rules. Every week, she gets a variable amount depending on her grades (by the way, I'm accepting ideas on summer allowance) and every week she MUST save some, spend some and give some away. She's given some to church and some to a Girl Scout project to send cookies to soldiers stationed overseas. It's fun to see her figure out what she cares about.

5. Make Something - A couple of years ago, I talked about the hats we were making for cancer patients. This would be a great project for kids. Another idea is tray favors for nursing homes. Kids love these little crafts and it's nice for them to learn about sharing that love.

The girls' Girl Scout troop has been focused all year long on community service projects. We've made hats for the homeless, painted Christmas stockings for boys living in a group home, collected canned goods for the hungry, provided the fixin's for Thanksgiving dinner for a needy family and we're still not done.

It's been a great experience for the girls. Sometimes you just have to remind them that there are other people out there in the world and that they may need your help. They usually do the rest.


Suze said...

My friend takes her daughter to a place where there is a dog rescue - golden retrievers, I think. They absolutely love it. Also, her daughter gets her dog fix without them having one to be responsible for at home! (Come to think of it, this might be a good thing to do with Anya...)

I need to get my kids involved in volunteering. They help set up for the school fair last weekend, so it was a start.

Jessi said...

A lot of time, I just make it a point to remind them that something is volunteer work. Sometimes they don't realize. It's just this fun thing that they do.