Your children are going to take their cues more from what you do than what you say. If you want to communicate to your children that generosity is important, then you have to model it for them. Don’t just tell them that charitable giving is important; show it to them through your actions. And while you’re at it, invite them to join in. There are all kinds of opportunities available for you and your children to participate in charitable giving.
How about sponsoring a child internationally? As a family, you can go online to Compassion International or World Vision and find out how to sponsor a child. Get your children involved by having them select a child to sponsor in their own age group. If possible, your children can pay for a percentage of the sponsorship out of their allowance or from a part-time job which will give them a sense of responsibility. Have them write to the sponsor child periodically to keep them engaged. This is a great way to model generosity to your children and to get them involved, too.
Another option is to consider the people around you. Is there a single mother who could use your help? Volunteer your time to watch her child(ren) while she enjoys an evening out. Is there a disadvantaged family in your neighborhood? Offer to pass on used (but still usable) clothing and toys. Be careful not to belittle the recipients; simply express that you have some items you are no longer using that you thought might be useful to them. This act of generosity can speak volumes to your own children as they see you caring for others in such a practical way.
In November, you and your children can fill a shoe box for Operation Christmas Child. This annual program (run by Samaritan’s Purse) collects gift-filled shoe boxes to be distributed to children around the world who are living in need. Talk with your children about what you are doing, involve them in selecting the items for the box, and take them with you to drop the box off at the distribution center.
If your children love animals, consider volunteering together at your local animal shelter. You can help care for the animals, play with them, and clean their cages. If you are looking for a pet of your own, adopt one of the rescued animals from the shelter and allow your child to be part of the selection process.
When your church or community organization has a food drive, participate alongside your children. Children as young as two years old can help out and enjoy the experience and it’s a great, hands-on way to teach your children about charitable giving.
As a family, decide that you will spend less on Christmas gifts for each other and instead use the money saved to help out individuals and communities in impoverished nations. You can sit down with your children in front of the computer and browse the online gift catalogue of a charitable humanitarian organization such as World Hope or World Vision. Enlist your children to help select the item(s) to purchase. For example, through World Vision you can buy winter clothing for up to 25 children in places like Mongolia, Romania, and Armenia for only $35. For $50 you can buy two hens and a rooster to provide a family in an impoverished nation with a regular source of food and income.
For something more local, you and your children can visit the residents at a nursing home. Check with the staff at the nursing home to inquire which residents do not receive many visitors and at Christmas time, recruit a few friends to come with you to do some caroling.
What you teach your children about charitable giving will have a profound impact on their own beliefs and acts of charity. Will they learn that charitable giving is important? Or will they learn that they do not need to be concerned about it? What they learn early in life about charities and charitable giving is what will likely stay with them throughout the years.