For as long as I have wanted to be a parent, I have wanted to pass on to my child the enjoyment I have for doing things for others.
When I moved back Minnesota, I began really participating in community giving for the first time as an adult. I am sure that people are generous in NYC, but I never worked at the companies or hung out with the people who did that kind of stuff. When I moved back I didn't have the money, but I had time and organizational skills. Fortunately that was what the first company I worked for needed. Ever since then, I can't imagine not participating in adopting a family at the holidays. As of last year, it is now two families. I organize the family adoption at work, as well as adopting a family at home. This year will be the first year that I will be able to get M involved, and I am really looking forward to it.
I've already started planting a few seeds as we get ready for the season. We've talked about how we need to go through her toys to clean out her room and to give them to boys and girls who don't have toys. It will help clean things up before we add more at Christmas, help with next years taxes, and start teaching her to give. I was also able to ask for a family this year that has a kid closer to her age, to let her help me pick out gifts. The little girl in the family we adopted is 5 and loves Dora, so that shouldn't be a problem at all.
As she gets older, I have more ideas of how we can help teach her lessons about the importance of looking beyond your own needs. As someone who calls herself an atheist (though it is more complicated than that one word) it is something that I'm especially sensitive to. For the sake of starting a discussion, what do you do to help teach those lessons to your children? When did you introduce it?
I've listed a few of my favorites organizations, both local and national, along with some ways to get kids involved.
Toys For Tots - Without question, one of the coolest things that Marines do. If this year is like past, their largest need is for toys for teens, and the very small. Even picking out your baby's favorite toy and giving a new one to the organization is a way even the smallest can get involved.
St. Anne's Place - This is where we adopt a family from. Both St. Anne's and Ascension place serve homeless women and their families. They are looking for everything from small personal care items, to people to adopt entire families. Other local organizations are Catholic Charities and the Salvation Army. Both are national organizations that run similar programs around the country.
Feeding America (Used to be Second Harvest) - In a nation with an excess of calories, it amazes me that so many, especially children, go hungry. If you donate food, make sure that it is as healthy as possible. Don't donate anything you wouldn't feed your own family. In the Twin Cities, Second Harvest has people working at the farmer's markets to encourage people to donate fresh produce to local food shelves.
PS. For some cool ways bloggers are giving back, see this recent post by Mom-101.