How do you teach your kids to give back? To be generous? I had a revelation recently – all of the things we were doing to “give back” were things we did on our own time, with our own money. Our children don’t know about the school supplies I packed in September or the donations we give to various organizations. And if they don’t see us doing it, how can they learn it?
So in an effort to teach by example, we’re trying a few new things this Christmas.
In November we packed up some Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes. I had my kids pick a few things of their own that they had never used, and we put them in the boxes. (I know they say they can’t take used items, but I’m not sure how they’d ever know these weren’t right off the shelf!) I had them each pick a stuffie that was like-new, as well as a notebook (we seem to have a lot of them that never get opened!) and some markers and new play dough. I picked up a few more items to put in, then we walked them over to the depot and dropped off our two shoeboxes. The reason I wanted them to pick something of theirs, instead of using my money to buy something from the store, is that I wanted it to hurt, just a bit. Because generosity is not always easy.
A few days ago I had them help me load up and deliver several bags of recyclables to the bottle depot. We then took the $27 and drove to Superstore. Earlier in the day I had made it clear that we weren’t going to buy things for them with the money (which is what we did last time with the bottle money). Together we chose $27-worth of groceries. They had fun picking items off the shelf, since I don’t normally let them choose! They paid for it, then we deposited the bags into the food bank box. I was so proud of them for not begging for anything (although I must admit, they did get the free Superstore cookie)!
I am always looking for ideas! I was inspired to have my children help pick the catalog gifts by Ann Voskamp. I read a blog post a few years ago where she talked about having her kids pour over gift catalogs every day during advent, and it stuck with me. Maybe it’s your turn to be my inspiration!
One of the things I’m enjoying the most with the boys is picking something from the gift catalogs. No, I’m not talking about the IKEA catalog or the Christmas Lee Valley catalogue, although they certainly are fun to look at!
We’ve been choosing gifts for others. Each week, after we light the advent candles, the boys have chosen an item from the Gospel for Asia catalogue. We have a certain price range that narrows down the selection, but within that range, they can pick anything. This activity has really been a joy for them, and it’s a joy for me to watch them decide what to give others. For the next two days of advent we’re picking things from the Gifts of Compassion catalogue.
Gifts of Compassion can truly change the life of a family in extreme poverty. Check out this little cutie helping his family take care of the gift they were given through Compassion!