The season is upon us – the roller coaster ride from Halloween to New Year’s. Buy the candy. Buy the food. Buy the presents. Decorations up, decorations down. Repeat. If you’re like me, you’ve noticed your kids getting wrapped up in all the chaos – the sugar highs and the desire to start their Christmas lists in early November. And while I do my best to keep the true spirit of each season, it’s hard not to get swallowed up in the swirl of activity that ushers in the last days of the year.
I’m often wondering how I can encourage my kids to be more thankful, more others-centered, instead of self-centered, and how to teach them to be a blessing. As parents, we want to give and teach them to give, but in the early years of motherhood, it’s just so darn hard to catch your breath long enough to think these things through. Let’s be honest, young kids can make it hard to be intentional about giving back. And I think that’s totally OK in this season of life. But at the same time, there are small ways we can teach our kids to be a blessing.
In the midst of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, a new day has emerged – Giving Tuesday, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. And yes, it is a social media movement to encourage people to focus on their year-end giving, but that doesn’t mean we can’t pull our kids into the charitable spirit. In fact, many organizations can use little advocates just as much as they can use the monetary donation. In Charleston, there are over 100 specific Giving Tuesday organizations you can donate to, some of which present the perfect opportunity to invite your children in. Here are just a few:
Begin with Books
As moms, we know the importance of reading to our kids from a very young age. Begin with Books encourages early childhood literacy to children who don’t have access to books or family traditions of literacy. With a small donation, you can provide a child with a new book each month for up to five years. Want to get your own child involved? Begin with Books lists the current books their kids are receiving on their website. Check these out from the library and read them to your kids, explaining that as a family you are gifting these same books to other kids in Charleston.
Birthdays for All
Even greater than books (in a child’s eyes at least) are birthday celebrations! Birthdays for All has as its mission to provide a birthday gift to every child in foster care this year. Take your kid to the toy store and let them pick out a present for a child who is the same age as them. You can drop off donated gifts at Blackbaud on Daniel Island or Obviouslee Marketing downtown. Monetary donations and volunteering are other great ways to support this organization.
Fields to Families
If access to healthy foods is your passion, check out Fields to Families who believe that all people should have access to fresh fruits and vegetables. In addition to donating money, you and your kids can plant extra herbs or produce in your garden and donate them to be distributed to other families. How fun is it when getting your hands dirty in the garden can also bless others?
Coastal Conservation League
Do you have a nature-loving child? Coastal Conservation League seeks to protect the beauty and wildlife here in Charleston. They have a number of ways they approach conservation, so if your child loves the allure of the Lowcountry, take time to learn about how to join forces with this organization. You can explain to your child that your family donates money to help the very outdoors that they love so much.
Finally, if your child is an animal lover, get involved with Pet Hepers. Not only can you make a donation, but you can host your child’s next birthday party there. The money from the birthday parties goes to help the animals and you can encourage guests to bring gifts for their furry friends. Pet Helpers community events are also great ways to get your kids involved.
Check out an even more extensive list of ways to give back around the Lowcountry!
Giving locally is an awesome way to be involved in your community, but of course, there are many organizations that can use your donations. A favorite for our family is child sponsorship through organizations like World Vision and Compassion International. For our son’s last birthday we chose to sponsor a child who had the exact birthdate as his. Now, he has a pen pal relationship with a nine-year-old boy in Cambodia and we are able to celebrate and explore another culture right from our own home. Whether it’s local or global, Giving Tuesday or any other day of the year, we can introduce our kids to the charitable spirit and to the joy we feel when we give away our blessings and contribute to our communities. Sometimes the greatest gifts come from the littlest hearts.