Christmas can be a time when the focus can be on the giving and receiving of gifts, but it can also be a time where we help to instil in children a developing sense of empathy for others less fortunate, an opportunity to be charitable in meaningful ways. Donating money to a charity is a fantastic thing to do, and we don’t want to discourage people from doing this, however it is also a great time to help children develop a very real sense of giving. The smallest of acts can go a long way in supporting children to grow up having a very real sense of caring for others, whether they know them or not.

Here are some ideas of ways you can give your children the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others over the holiday period:

  • Have your children choose presents for a charity, and deliver these gifts in person
  • Donate groceries to a food bank
  • Bake cookies for people that have to work on Christmas day. Police officers, the staff in a hospital children’s ward, rest home staff, or public transport workers. Hand deliver them on Christmas Day
  • Help an elderly neighbour with jobs around their yard
  • Clear out toys and clothing to give to a refuge
  • Enquire at local help agencies to see if there are any people that will be spending Christmas Day alone, invite them to join your family for a meal
  • Drop off pet food and old blankets to a local animal shelter. The holiday period is unfortunately a time when shelters are overrun with unwanted and abandoned pets
  • Enquire at a local church or community group to see if there are any families that will be struggling over the holiday period. With your children, put together a basket that will bring a smile to their faces, and help make this period a little less stressful
  • Have your child draw a thankyou card to give to your postal worker, your rubbish collector, or the owners of your local corner store. These people have thankless jobs, and a little thankyou will be much appreciated
  • Spend an hour or so picking up rubbish together at your local park or a spot at the beach. Charity comes in many forms and teaching your child to give to the environment is a fantastic thing to do

Being charitable doesn’t only mean giving in a monetary sense. Giving children opportunities to help and appreciate others firsthand will go a long way in helping them to become caring and empathetic people. It all starts small!

Posted by Sonya McIntyre

Sonya went to Rata Street Kindergarten and Petone kindergarten. She gained her Bachelor of Education at Victoria University in Wellington and has worked as an educator and manager in home based care, community based and kindergarten services.


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