Putting the “Give” Back into the Season of Giving

The other day I was driving with my young kids in the car.
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We were at a stoplight and there was a man sitting on the corner holding a sign that said, “Need Help.  God Bless.”

My six-year old read it aloud and a discussion began:

“What does that mean, Mommy?”

“Why does he need help?”

“Why is he standing there?”

He is getting to the age where I can’t ignore things like this around him anymore.  He is six and he is reading and questioning everything.  I love that about him.  It just makes the hard stuff even harder.  Children live in this world where optimism is the norm and happiness oozes out of their pores.  Last night I watched him get undressed before his shower and he danced the entire time.  Life is joyous.  The realities of the world are not always so.

We have had an open discussion about people less fortunate since he could understand a tiny part of what that means.  We choose toys and clothes to donate to kids who need things.  He has gone to Target with me to pick items to contribute to toy drives and things like that.  There is an understanding that not all children like him have a warm coat and a nutritious dinner on the table every night.  But, at six, I can tell that he gets it in a more real way now.

For the past several years, our neighborhood has worked together to collect donations for Christmas House, a non-profit organization in Everett that provides an opportunity for qualifying, low-income parents to select free holiday gifts for their children.  My son, at only three years old, had to be the one to deliver the goods to the kind lady who was leading the effort.  He was so excited to get to pick the items at the store and bring them to our neighbor.

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Getting your kids involved in the giving will allow them to be invested in the process.  They will enjoy choosing small items for other children their age.  Give them a budget and let them pick what you’ll donate.  Many times, you can find gifts for very little money.

Help is needed everywhere and all the time.  But during the coldest months, and the holidays, the opportunities to give are even more plentiful and we are reminded that if we can, we should.

For those in the Seattle area, there are food banks, coat and toy drives, and adopt-a-family programs throughout the region.

How do you like to give back?  How do you get your kids involved?