With Christmas right around the corner and full and thankful hearts after Thanksgiving, it's a great time to show your kids how even a little contribution can make a big difference.
Participating and funding a cause that interests your child helps them to appreciate their own lifestyle and the world around them. Start with everyday activities.
Charity begins at home. My eldest son gave an extra blanket with a similar texture to his favorite baby blanket to his younger brother on his own accord. They both like to do things for me without being asked like taking their dishes to the sink or throwing out their trash. We've also recently cleaned up the playroom and they gave gently-used toys/books to an orphanage in the Philippines.
Volunteer as a family. Children naturally mimic their parent's actions. If you show charity, your children are more likely to get involved, too. I volunteered at my church before having children so it was natural to have them come with me when they were babies and now that they are older they want to come and help on their own volition.
Collecting for a cause. Children can collect canned food at their next park playdate and bring it to the food bank. My eldest son packed a shoebox for a child in Africa. He bought everything for that box with his own money and was so proud of his accomplishment when he turned it in.
Catholic Charities of Arlington Fredericksburg District Office – Serving the poor, the vulnerable. Visit www.ccda.net/programs_fredericksburg.php or call (540) 371-1124.
Grace Oughton Cancer Foundation – Dedicated to helping families fighting pediatric cancer by offering direct grants, research grants, education grants and grants to develop and improve local resources. Visit thegocf.org, or call (888) 900-GOCF (4623) to donate.
Fairy Godmother Project – Eases the burden of everyday life for local families who have a child in treatment for a form of pediatric cancer. Visit www.fairygodmotherproject.org or call (540) 645-4282 to donate.
Fredericksburg Area Food Bank – Feeding the hungry through a community-wide network of partner agencies. Visit fredfood.org or call (540) 371-7666 to donate.
Rappahannock Area Community Services Board (RACSB) – Committed to improving the quality of life for people residing in Planning District 16 with mental health, intellectual disability, and substance abuse problems and to preventing the occurrence of these conditions. Visit www.racsb.state.va.us or call (540) 373-6876.
Safe Harbor - Provides child abuse victims with a child friendly, community oriented, facility-based program in which professionals from multiple agencies come together to address the child's abuse. Visit safeharborva.org , or call (540-891-6280.
Incorporate giving into activities your child likes. Children can open a lemonade stand and donations can be given to their favorite charity. Your child can ask for donations to their favorite charity in lieu of gifts for their birthday. My son chose one of his beloved gifts last Christmas to give to child who wouldn't have had anything.
Every opportunity instills the importance of giving because a thankful heart is a happy heart. Helping your children to focus on others is an investment for a better world. Parents can support children by helping them find a charity that is important to them. If children choose the charity they want to fund, they are more likely to stick with it and happily give of their valuable time and money.
Nikki Ducas is a budget-savvy Fredericksburg mom teaching her two young sons how to be charitable at home and in the community.