It is never too early to begin teaching children to give back to their community. The season of both Thanksgiving and Christmas is the perfect time to introduce activities that are community-sponsored and are designed to give back to the community. Even young children can participate in some way in many of these kinds of activities. Children can readily understand activities that involve sharing with other families, special organizations that help needy families, and even organizations that help homeless pets in the community.
Sarasota is a giving community at this time of the year. There are many opportunities for families to involve children in an activity or several activities that can teach community involvement and sharing with less fortunate people in the community. There is also a family-friendly activity on November 29th to involve children in making holiday cards for military personnel.
*Holiday Cards for the Troops is sponsored by the Red Cross. Have your children create holiday cards at home as an art project and drop them off at the local Red Cross organization here. You may find more information for this giving project at redcross.org/support/get-involved/holiday-mail-for-heroes.
*Holiday Sharing at the Ringling Museum on December 4th from 5-9p.m. is a great family-friendly giving activity that children can easily participate in this season. Admission to the art museum is an unwrapped gift per family member. The museum is all decked out in holiday decorations and can be enjoyed along with the art. Holiday music will also be a part of this giving activity. Holiday Splendor at the John and Mable Ringling Museum supports the Marine Corps Toys for Tots project. Children will enjoy choosing a toy when shopping to take to the museum that will make a less fortunate child’s Christmas special. Children giving to other children is always a great way to teach community involvement.
*Holiday Gift Wrap Fundraiser offered by Forgetmenot, Inc. Rescue for shelter animals is an upcoming event that is family-friendly and gives back to pets that have been rescued and are waiting for their forever home. You are invited to bring your gifts to for wrapping with a donation of $3 per package that will support this great organization. This giving event begins on Black Friday and will be offered every Saturday and Sunday through Christmas from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. Forgetmenot, Inc. will be at Tractor Supply at 4404 E State Road 64 in Bradenton.
Authors Jennifer Jacobson and Gretchen Barry have written a great article, “Teaching Your Kids to Give-Establishing the Mentality of Life-Long Giving” with many ideas for introducing community involvement to your children. They suggest that you begin by asking your children how they would like to help with a giving opportunity this season. “Tell them that your family has the chance to give back, and engage them in a conversation about the types of causes that they feel strongly about and ways they think they can help.”
They also suggest that you make a “game plan” after choosing the activity that your family will participate in and “Gamify it to some degree with tasks that turn into goals that turn into accomplishments that result in stickers.” Other suggestions from the article include making a Donation Box and “put it where your kids can use it” throughout the year, “finding ways to raise money for donations”, and “explaining why you are doing it”. “Keep the focus on the people in need, or the event in which your family will participate, and your child’s ability to share in the experience.”
Jennifer Jacobson is the founder of Jacobson Communication and an advocate for organizations that make a difference in our world. She currently serves on the board of several nonprofits and organizations that serve communities. Contact information for Jennifer Jacobson can be accessed at www.jacobsoncommunications.com.
Co-author Gretchen Barry is the Director of Marketing and Communication for NonProfitEasy, a data management software system for nonprofits.
Enjoy the holiday season this year and begin a family tradition of participating in some of many giving opportunities that Sarasota has to offer. Stay tuned for more opportunities.