Last year after Christmas, my daughter turned into a diva. She acted spoiled and entitled, and Dad and I were *not* having it. We required that she write thank you notes before she could play with her toys, but it did little to help with her attitudey booty.
So we spent most of this year talking about how we are thankful for the items we have, the family we’re blessed with, and the importance of giving back. This holiday season, we’ve put a much greater emphasis on giving. It looks like our efforts are paying off! Just a couple of nights ago, she was telling me how important it is to give during Christmastime. It’s not about the presents you receive; it’s about the presents you give. We’re supposed to celebrate family and friends during the holiday season – not our things, like presents.
I wanted to keep that momentum going, so I asked her if she’d be interested in doing a few volunteer projects with me to give back to our community and those that are less fortunate than we are. She jumped up and down, exclaimed YES!, and asked if we could start immediately. We brainstormed ideas, and ultimately I put together the following calendar of 1 project each week of December.
Giving Back with Kids: How My 7-Year-Old is Volunteering this Holiday Season
Donating to a Food Pantry
So, initially we decided to donate food to a local food pantry that had supported our family and neighbors throughout the years, but then I found a local organization (LovePacs) that packs boxes of food for children in our school district that receive free or discounted meals at school. When school is on break, those children go without or with very little.
So, K and I went grocery shopping. She got to pick out the items to complete an entire box for a friend in need. Not only did we do our own shopping, but we also asked for donations from any friends or family that wanted to also give back. I sent an email to some of my work friends, and we also posted a video on Facebook. When we combined the items donated by friends with our donation, we ended up with a great haul to help out! We took it all to the box packing event and even got to assemble some boxes. It was a great way to show her that despite how young or small she is, she has the ability to be powerful.
Making Busy Books for the Children’s Hospital
Another point I wanted to drive home this holiday season is that not only do we have food on our plates to be thankful for – but we also have our health! Many children won’t be celebrating Christmas at home because they’re in the hospital, and I wanted to do our part to cheer them up this holiday season. There are several restrictions on who and what is allowed into the hospital for fear of infections, so I did some research on the local children’s hospital website. One of the big items they request from donors is busy books. We printed off coloring pages and activities, decorated a covering page, and bound them with yarn. These books will help cure boredom for little patients in waiting rooms before treatment.
Decorating Cards & Putting Together Goodies for Cancer Patients
Earlier this year, K’s grandmother was diagnosed with cancer. My 7-year-old doesn’t understand all of the details of cancer, but she knows that Nana is sick. We’re going to decorate Christmas cards and put together goody bags for patients going through treatment this month. Since she’s so young, she’s not allowed inside the clinic, but I have a good friend that works with Texas Oncology who’s going to help distribute the presents for us. This is a particularly meaningful giving back exercise for us this year, given Nana’s recent diagnosis.
Donating to a Women’s and Children’s Shelter
Our final volunteer activity scheduled for the month is to provide blankets, toiletries, and other necessities to women and children affected by domestic abuse. There are a number of local shelters we can give back to, and it’s important for K to realize that not all children go home to a house like she does. She wants to host a hot chocolate and cookie stand (like a lemonade stand) to raise money to buy the items we’ll go shopping for so that she’s completely in charge of the fundraiser. I am so inspired by her passion and generosity. She wants to completely own these events, and though she appreciates my help, she’s taking it all on like a champ.
She might still be the little girl that counts the number of presents under the tree, but she’s also my precious girl that writes handwritten thank you notes to everyone that supports her fundraisers and continues to ask to do more to help others. Her awareness and passion aren’t common in such a young soul. She is my hero.
PS: Not sure you have anything to give? Think again.