The following is a guest post by Rae Alton.
“Charity and personal force are the only investments worth anything.” – Walt Whitman
Whitman might have have been singing a different tune if he’d had Apple stocks. All joking aside, charity is an underestimated value that all humans should learn when they’re most empathetic: childhood.
Before you can expect your kids to understand how to be charitable, they should see why their charity is necessary first-hand. Lead by example and ask your children to help you bake and decorate cookies for patients at a local childrens hospital (call ahead for any dietary guidelines). If your children are older, have a family outing by volunteering time at a soup kitchen or food bank. These kinds of experiences will instill genuine compassion and are excellent family bonding moments.
Teaching kids about giving goes hand in hand with financial responsibility and planning. One of the most effective lessons about money I’ve ever been taught was in a third grade classroom, where daily chores, homework, and acts of kindness were our classroom currency. We kept our “finances” in check with a basic checkbook and budgeted routinely after lunch. We calculated in our deductions quarterly and even filed income tax; you could take it a step further with your child and host a “tax refund pizza party”. There’s nothing like the promise of a pizza party to drive a point home.
Entrepreneurship is a lesson most kids are eager to learn for some extra candy money. Lemonade stands are a part of every childhood and are yet another opportunity to teach kids about philanthropy. Alex’s Lemonade is an organization for kids to raise funds for pediatric cancers by selling lemonade. Now is a great time to start, too, as September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
If you’re still looking for other ways to volunteer with your family, turn to Google! Yes, it may seem totally obvious, but Google suggestions in regular searches can show you exactly what other volunteers are searching for:
At the end of the day, your child will know how satisfying and rewarding it is to actually help others. Encourage them to keep a record of their good deeds in a charity scrapbook – one place where they can keep photos, cut-outs from the paper, funny stories and fond memories. The little things they might otherwise forget will only help them foster a spirit of generosity.
Rae Alton is a content specialist and single Mom from Greensboro, North Carolina. When not guest posting, you can find Rae playing “store” with her little 3 year-old entrepreneur.