Volunteering as a Family

While the kids were growing up, they often asked me to read one of their favorite books…Stan & Jan Berenstein’s “The Berenstein Bears Get the Gimmies.”  A condensed version goes something like this…

Brother and Sister Bear: “Gimme this thing.”
Papa Bear: “Ok, here. Why do you keep throwing temper tantrums?”
Mama Bear: “Because you give in to them all the time, stupid.”
THE END

Sound familiar? This past holiday, did your child show you a less than an angelic side of them with frequent demands of “gimmes” and “I wants?” You are not alone.

In her article, “Strengthen Your Family By Volunteering Together”, Robin McClure says, “While a certain amount of self-focus and greed are natural among young children, there are some things parents can do to instill of the act of giving rather than receiving.” In fact, she says, “Raising a giving child starts with a giving family.” She suggests volunteering as a family to help groups and individuals in need. Volunteering will not only help kids learn the joy of giving and sharing, but will also enrich their lives in many ways. What’s more, the focus will then be on others rather than on them.

So when do you start? While Thanksgiving and Christmas are ideal occasions to start the spirit of philanthropy, it can really occur year round. In fact, birthdays are also a a memorable time to celebrate volunteerism.

What can you and your family do to get started?

  • Donate. Ask your children to go through their things and choose well-loved items in excellent condition to donate to a service organization’s resale outlet. In exchange, take them to the park or for ice cream as a special way to celebrate. While there are no “rules” to follow when helping your child feel good about donating, remember that the spirit of giving is often a difficult concept for children to fully embrace.
  • Shop or volunteer at the resale stores. Not only will you find great bargains, but your business will support their organizations.
  • Organize a food or clothing drive in your neighborhood or school with all proceeds benefiting a charity. Permit older children to research service organizations where they wish to donate the items raised.
  • Involve your children in sorting and stacking donations. Even young children can separate big clothes from little ones; boys styles from girls.
  • Ask your school or child care center whether they have a favorite charity. Better yet ask whether they have children who can have their needs met through generous donations. For example, schools often list children who are in need of school supplies. Your family can put together the needed supplies then give them to the school to anonymously give to the child. That is a sure way to make everyone feel great about giving!
  • Recruit others to expand the circle of giving. Often, families want to volunteer, but are not sure how or where to get started.

To read the full article, check out http://childcare.about.com/cs/volunteerism/qt/volunteer.htm.

Remember … touch a life today “The Little Way” by following the lead and need of others.  Also, if you ever thought to yourself, “I wish my customers, knew…”, then be sure to visit White Light Communications at http://www.tothewhitelight.com.

~ Theresa

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