spirit of giving

3 Ways to Show Your Kids a Spirit of Giving

I was at a camp in upper state New York when I was sixteen. A friend of mine and I decided to throw a baseball. After a couple of tosses back and forth, he threw one over my head. It went over a fence into a garbage area behind the dining hall. When I headed back there to get it, I remember wanting to move quickly because I thought I might get in trouble.

After searching for a couple of seconds, I saw it in a bunch of filth. As I started climbing through the grime to get it, I heard someone say, “Hey, stop!” When I turned around expecting to get yelled at, there was a girl standing there smiling. “What are doing?” she asked. I told her I was just trying to get my ball back and then I would be out of there. She told me that she didn’t want me to get dirty so she would get it. Despite my protest, she waded through the garbage and rescued the ball without breaking her smile. As if that weren’t enough, she then took it inside and cleaned it, returning it to me moments later cleaner than it even was before my friend and I started throwing.

If our kids are going to make the world a better place, we need to instill a giving spirit.I was only with her for a few moments twenty-five years ago, but I will never forget her. Now I had always considered myself a good and kind person, but she had something I was missing. Life and love radiated from her. She had a spirit of giving that was so attractive and infectious. When we give to others, we have an opportunity to change their lives. If our kids are going to make the world a better place, we need to instill a giving spirit. Here are three ways to do that as the holidays approach.

1. Gifts to Siblings

Teach them to give generously to family members. Have them take their own money, think through what each family member would like, buy it for them, and be involved in the wrapping. If it is too overwhelming for them to do for each person in the family, designate a sibling so that they each have one person to focus on. Take the opportunity to teach them why giving is so important.

2. Celebrating People with Thankless Jobs

Teach them to give to people in the community. I think about those with thankless jobs: trash collectors, mail carriers, cashiers at the grocery store. Have your kids make a thank you letter, with candy and perhaps a gift card. Tell them to pay attention to how the person responds. Ask them the question, “What if we did this once a month instead of just during the holidays?”

3. Operation Christmas Child

Teach them to give to those in need around the world. Our office has taken part in this wonderful cause for the past couple of years. You won’t regret it. It’s simple. Get a shoe box or several. Fill the shoe box with toys and $9 for shipping. Send it back to Operation Christmas Child, and they send it to a needy kid in an impoverished part of the world. It will give your kids a broader picture of life and how they can make a difference.

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “Why is it important to think about and meet the needs of others?”