Thursday 19 November 2009

It's part of the reason we're put on this planet...

I firmly believe part of the reason we are here, on this planet we share with billions of others, is to make life better for at least some of its inhabitants.

If we all take just a little bit of time - it doesn't have to always be about money - we can brighten someone's day, week, life. We might even alter their entire life path. Who knows?!

I think it's important we instill this in our kids. Here are some ideas on how to involve kids in making our planet a little better.

1. Take your kids and donate to community fundraising campaigns. Each year I take $20 of my money and the kids take $2 out of their own piggy banks. It's not much, but every little bit helps. We go to the KoolFM poster boy campaign (a fundraiser for the Grand River Cancer Centre in Kitchener-Waterloo) and donate in person. It's much more impactful that way. Here is Alexandria from last year's visit.

2. Take part in any little way you can. Does your Santa Claus Parade have a food drive? Take a box or can of food for each of your kids so they can donate during the parade.

3. Throughout the year I like to buy toys when they go on super-duper sale and save them for the toy drives each Christmas. The kids and I go to the mall and donate the toys. It's hard for them to give up toys, but in doing so they are learning something that just can't be taught with words.

4. Now this one I haven't personally tried yet. You can have your kids pick one or two toys from their birthday or Christmas to donate.

5. Plan a party & ask guests, if they can, to bring a small donation (maybe $5, $10, whatever.) Go to the Plan Canada website - or look through their catalogue - and pick a goal.

Maybe it's a pig to give a family a sustainable business - $40.

How about a clean, safe, reliable water supply for a family - $50.

Did you know that a lack of a girls-only bathroom is one of the main reason adolescent girls in the developing world stop attending school? Give a girls-only latrine - $100.

Or ask everyone to donate $12 each to buy a mango tree.

Some of the gifts are matched by governments and organizational donors, so they go even further. 

6. As a party craft, why not have the kids make cards for other kids that are in the hospital? Pack up all the cards and take them to your local hospital for the staff to distribute - or mail the pack to Sick Kids. (I'm not sure about the logistics of that one, but I can't really see them turning the cards away....) Maybe expand on the idea and ask guests to bring teddy bears and books to donate to the hospitals instead of gifts.

7. There are lots of ideas on the Sick Kids website on ways that kids can get involved and help out - from organizing read-a-thons at their school to having a community bbq with proceeds going to the foundation.

8. What kid doesn't love holding their own lemonade stand? Make it a charitable event. Hold your own "Alex's Lemonade Stand" and fight childhood cancer, one cup at a time.

9. As an individual or group craft, have kids make "Spend", "Save" and "Give" banks. Learn about money while helping others. Pick a charity with your kids to donate the contents of the "Give" bank every six months or year.

10. This time of year is a great time to make a handful of holiday cards and truck yourselves on over to your local retirement home. Ask the staff which residents could really use some visitors and go around to as many as you have time for. Have your kids give the resident a card and spend a little time with them. A few moments with a child can do wonders for the soul.

Please feel free to add your own suggestions in the comment section and go out there and let's all brighten someone's day. Even if it's just a warm smile at the right time. It's amazing what a little kindness can do.


DebC said...

Great ideas here Jacki. I definitely can take something away from this post for our family.

I started including Michael in the toy drive donation last Christmas. He did very well donating a Hot Wheels set that he would have loved to keep for himself. And I gave him a loonie to donate each time we found a Salvation Army kettle on our travels.

We also make a point of including him when selecting outgrown clothes and toys to send to Good Will or a shelter. We talk about how not all boys and girls are as lucky as he is to have such nice things. I can tell it's not always easy for him, but I think he understands.

I don't think though that I'd ask him to donate a new toy he just got for a birthday or Christmas. Someone picked that toy out especially for him, so I'm not sure I could feel right passing it along right away. But a week or two prior to a gift giving occasion is a great opportunity to review current toys and pick some to pass along and share with a little boy or girl who would appreciate them.

JackiYo said...

That might be a good compromise. Giving a gift they were just thoughtfully given by someone else was what's been holding me back on that. I know I'd feel awful if it were my gift a kid chose to give away...

Thanks for your comment :)

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