Real-life money lessons

Teach your kids to give back this holiday season

The holidays are a great opportunity to teach your kids about giving back. Whether items, money or time, giving to those less fortunate not only helps them but it feels good.

Think about what’s important to your family and how you can make an impact this holiday season.

The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army kettles are probably the most well-known donation opportunity of the season. Keep some extra cash handy for your kids to donate — but if you don’t have any cash handy, many kettles will accept Apple and Google Pay as of 2019.

Operation Christmas Child

This year we participated in Operation Christmas Child and packed a shoebox with toys, books and personal care items for a 5-9 year old boy.

J was super curious where the box would end up; we paid $9 to track our box, so we’re looking forward to following the box to its final destination. We found a drop-off location at a local church, delivered the box, then talked more about it.

J said he wished he could have given the box directly to the child. It’s a great point — often we give without seeing how our gifts impact others. I mentioned there were people nearby who needed help, too — adults who couldn’t find work, kids who were hungry, seniors on limited incomes — the list is endless. Next time, we’ll give closer to home.

Your local food bank

Donating food is a great way to involve your kids and help those in need. Check your local food bank for their most needed items, then take your kids to the grocery store to make your purchases. (Work some money lessons into the mix while you’re there! Read our series on spending including generic vs. name brand products, store comparisons and buying in bulk.) Then drop your donations off and again, have a discussion!

Organizations that provide meals

When I was young, my grandmother would donate to Operation Santa Claus — a local initiative to provide holiday meals to struggling families. Even though she didn’t have a lot to give, she remembered those less fortunate. And even though I wasn’t involved in the donation as a child, I remember this. There may be an opportunity like this in your area.

Children’s Hospital

Many hospitals take toy donations, including your local Children’s Hospital. There are specific days/times to donate as well as requirements on what can be donated, so make sure to find and follow any instructions listed on their website.

Ronald McDonald House

Likewise, The Ronald McDonald House accepts donations of all kinds, including toys and food. If you’re not aware, The Ronald McDonald House supports the families of children undergoing medical care. All items donated are MUCH appreciated by those families.

Angel trees

Your place of work, church or other local businesses may have an angel tree. Simply take a tag, buy a gift for a child in need and return the tag and gift before the deadline.

Coats and outdoor wear

Many local schools organize coat/hat/glove drives around this season. You could also check with your local TV station or newspaper for additional opportunities to donate.

Your local animal shelter

The animal shelter is one of our favorite places to donate. For his birthday one year, J donated supplies from their wish list and money. Last year he donated money — proceeds from his side hustle selling Christmas cookies.

Amazon Smile + wish lists

An organization dear to your heart may have an Amazon wish list from which you can purchase needed items. They may also be affiliated with Amazon Smile, so a portion of your Amazon purchases go back to that organization.

Donating blood

I like to think of donating blood like taking your kids to vote — although they can’t participate directly, it’s a powerful message. Donating blood during the holidays is extra important — due to busy holiday schedules and travel plans, regular donors and businesses postpone giving and blood drives until the new year, but the need doesn’t decrease. Check with your local blood bank or the Red Cross for donation opportunities.

Random acts of kindness

You can also give back in small ways, too. HGTV has some great ideas in their post 18 Ways to Give Back During the Holidays including:

  • Treat the person behind you in line
  • Up your tips
  • Take cookies to a nursing home
  • Write a letter to deployed military members

Giving isn’t reserved solely for the holidays, but giving during the holiday season is an extra special way to keep the spirit of the season alive.

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