Monday, November 28, 2011

Teaching our kids to give to those in need

There's no better time than the holidays to teach our kids to give to those less fortunate. For me and for my kids, we are still a work in progress in this department.

I find myself very picky about donating money because I've been duped before. When I was in college studying for the summer in Guatemala, a group of students traveled down to a beach near El Salvador for the weekened. There was an elderly woman there begging for money, and we all gave her some money because she looked tired and hungry. Not long after that, we found her stumbling down the beach with alcohol, completely drunk. We were so disappointed! I've also been approached by kids asking for money for food, and when I offer to buy them food or give them food, they mysteriously refuse.

I've also become skeptical after delivering Christmas presents to an angel family, only to find their possessions to be way more extravagent (according to my perception) than what I have or what the average family owns.

So I try to be more careful now about where and to whom I give money, but nothing is full-proof and sometimes you just have to trust that people will be honest and do the right thing.

I think the concept of donating to those in need is a hard concept for kids to grasp. Both of my older kids have this Money Savvy Pig that has a separate compartment for donations:

When my oldest son had accumulated a handful of change in his donation bucket, we went to Wendy's and dropped his change in the jar for the Dave Thomas Foundation (benefitting adoption). I explained to my son about the organization and how it would help kids find forever families. Which I think he understood, but it's hard to make a connection to the cause when you just see your money go in a jar and you don't see who benefitted from it. Shortly after, he suggested that he take some of his money and give it to his friend Michael. And his friend across the street, and his friend down the street. He said they're in need, because they need more toys. So I tried to explain to him about kids that don't even have their basic needs met.

So last week, we went shopping for another Christmas angel family. And my son picked out some Justin Bieber pjs for the girl. And we decided to sponsor some orphans living in Russia (through Two Hearts for Hope), and I hope to be able to show the boys the pictures of the kids online. I hope that they will start to see and feel a connection to the kids in need.

How do you get your kids involved in giving to others? I'd love to hear your comments.

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