By Kristen Houghton
Teaching Children to Be Charitable
The time of year has come for schools to “do their bit” for those in need. Canned goods, non-perishables, plus a turkey and the trimmings, are collected and distributed for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.
As a teacher, I had absentmindedly participated in this activity for years, happy that my students were learning to be charitable and sharing, until one day, a friend’s six year old daughter asked me a question that stopped me in my tracks.
She was watching me load boxes of food into my car for a family on my list.
“We’re bringing this to a family so they can eat a good Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow, honey,” I told her. As I loaded the last box she asked an innocent, but potent, question.
“What does the needy family eat for the rest of the year?”
A very good question indeed; what do they eat for the rest of the year? Why should giving be relegated to only a couple of times a year?
Charity and giving should not be a once or twice a year “activity.” The act of giving should be done throughout the 365 days.
There are many stories of people who help others; some anonymously, some not.
A woman I know, a lawyer, is a benefactor to a young girl she met in court. She gives quietly and consistently to this emancipated seventeen-year old girl who had gone to court to free herself from an emotionally abusive home life. In granting this legal request, the court allows her to live as an adult, before reaching the legal age.
Her benefactor supplements the girl’s rent and has gotten her a part-time job in a local office. She has told the girl she wants only one thing in return for her help. When the girl is older, and in a good financial situation, she wants her to help someone else in need. Besides helping this young girl in a financial way, she is also teaching her to become a future benefactor.
Another group of people help support a “Pets for Seniors” program. Aged and abandoned pets are paired with elderly “Moms” and “Dads.” The animals’ medical expenses and food are provided by this group.
“I would be all alone without my loving companion,” says a gentleman who adopted a dog who is blind. “The way I see it, I’m her seeing-eye person.”
A friend has a therapy dog she takes to nursing homes and hospitals. The dog is affectionate and gives the comfort only a “furry therapist” is capable of giving.
A retired teacher collects hotel size bottles of shampoo, conditioner, hand cream, and liquid soap from her travels. Along with other necessities, she puts them in small fancy gift bags and donates them to women’s shelters.
We can teach our children to be charitable all year long.
If there is a food bank in your area, have your children help you pack and bring food items there with you.
If there is a program that helps children, senior citizens, single mothers, abused animals, make your children know that they can help, even in a small way. It doesn’t have to be monetary. Giving time is a wonderful gift also.
Make being charitable a part of their lives. Give them the value of helping others. Teach your children that one of the best ways to show their own thankfulness for what they have is to reach out to others.
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