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!