Our three and five year old are no strangers to volunteering. Both my husband and I have strived to get them involved at an early age with giving back. That said, it is a challenge. It’s difficult to help kids understand why there are so many people in need all while keeping it age appropriate. This year, we tried to up the ante with the boys by talking to them about who they wanted to give their own money to.
Teaching the boys about donating was a part of our Second Annual Giving Party. Our Giving Party is where we invite all our friends and family to celebrate the holiday season by giving to others. Each year we choose a handful of charities that are doing great work as beneficiaries.
The day after the party, we sat down with the boys to talk to them about where they wanted to give their own money. I pulled out their piggy bank and we all sat down for a chat. We started by counting out the money (a useful exercise on its own) and then talked to them about each charity. It wasn’t easy to talk about each of them in a kid-friendly manner, but here is about what we said:
- Migrant Offshore Aide Station: We live in a country that is very safe, but there are other people in a different part of the world that live in a place that is very dangerous. They are trying to move to a different country that is safer for their family. To do that, they have to travel across a big sea on boats that are not safe for them and a lot of them are getting hurt. MOAS is sending big, safe boats to the sea that these people are traveling across and helping them get to safety.
- The Heifer Project: The Heifer Project gives animals to families that don’t have a lot of money. For example they might give a few chickens or a cow to the family, and then the family can sell the eggs or milk from the animals to get money they can use to buy food or send their kids to school. If their cow has a calf, they give the calf to another family so the other family can also help their family.
- Sister Carmen: Sister Carmen helps people that don’t have enough food by giving them food from the food bank. They also help people that don’t have enough money, and can’t pay for their house, by helping them find jobs or connecting them with other people that can help them. They try to prevent people from becoming homeless.
- Truckers Against Trafficking: There are bad people that are making other people work for free and the people they make work for them, cannot leave. It is a dangerous situation for the people that are working. Truckers Against Trafficking teaches truckers to be heroes, by paying attention, and looking for the people that are in trouble. When they see the people in trouble, they call a special number to alert police so the police can rescue the people that are being forced to work for free.
- Boulder Outreach for Homeless Overflow : BOHO wants to make sure no one has to sleep out in the cold. They try to make sure there is a safe warm place for everyone to sleep. (BOHO also runs the shelter we serve breakfast at, so this one didn’t take much explaining.)
- A local family in need: There is a family in our area that doesn’t have enough money for food and may loose their home. The Daddy of the family lost his job and is trying to find a new one. The money that goes to them would help them to stay in their house and feed their family.
As we talked about them we drew an image to represent each nonprofit. Then we gave they boys a dime for each dollar they had to donate. They took turns putting them on the chart.
Though Truckers Against Trafficking was one of my favorite charities we supported this year, I think they may have gotten as many votes as they did because there was a picture of a truck on the chart! That said, I am always amazed at how much kids can understand if you just try to help them out. For example, when we explained The Heifer Project, and how families are required to pass the offspring of their animal on to another family, Danny said, “And it just keeps going!” Yes, Danny, it does just keep going! I would never think to teach a 3-year-old about sustainability, but that’s exactly what he understood.
As they get older, they will understand more and more about this process, but I hope they get more then just the knowledge of these nonprofits. I hope they learn to have a compassionate heart. I hope they learn to be thankful for the things they have, and know that they are very blessed and lucky to have a roof over their heads, food whenever they are hungry and a warm place to sleep every night.