A Family Affair
Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not. –Dr. Seuss
It seems every week I can walk into our children’s room and playroom and find an overabundance of stuff: toys strewn over the floor, mixed together in baskets and containers, Lego pieces and matchbox cars in every nook and corner. And at this time every week I call the boys into their space and ask them to clean up. When I get that resistant grumble back, I go into my usual speech about children in our own city and across the world not having enough to eat, clean water to drink or shelter, let alone a playroom full of toys. Some may call this dramatic, but we all need reminders of what we have and take for granted, even at an early age. I think about this as holidays roll around and everyone circulates their wish lists. Often times I’m find myself thinking do we need one… more… thing squeezed into our small city home?
Here is another familiar scene: the dinner plate is full of chicken, rice and peas and kids exclaim they are “finished” or “don’t want THIS for dinner.” I remember my sisters and I growing up, complaining about pork chops or roast for dinner. My parents often reminded us then that there are “people starving in India and Africa.” And the reality is, there ARE people starving in India and Africa. So as I say this to my children at dinner, I hear in my mind the voices of thousands of mothers like me all saying the same thing.
As a child, my family and I traveled to India many times. It is there that I saw what in need or less fortunate meant. I remember visiting orphanages. We played with the children and passed out clothes and toys. We gave money to the children and adults begging on the street.
After we would return home, we were encouraged to volunteer locally. We helped out in soup kitchens, handed out food baskets around Thanksgiving, and worked within our church and school organization to give back. Every time I heard a teachers or my parents talk about “those in need around the world,” I was able to see a clear picture in my mind of what that truly meant.
It’s important to me that I pass this understanding on to my children. So I think to myself, what are some ways that we can go beyond the dramatic statements about “starving children” to encourage our children’s charitable nature? Well, we can start by making giving a family affair. Here are some ideas of a few fun, creative ways for parents and children to contribute to those in need this holiday season and year round:
Create an Art Show with neighbors and friends. Have children create their works of art using different mediums. Send out invitations to family and friends. Display the artwork like a real show, and have the guests bid on the art. All proceeds are then donated to the charity of your choice.