Looking to raise empathetic, generous kids? It all starts at home. Serving as a family is a fantastic tool to teach your kids to identify needs around them and give of themselves. However, if you have young children, some common service activities simply aren't going to work. As cute as your toddler is, he's probably not helpful serving at a soup kitchen, reading to the elderly or visiting people at the hospital.
Before you give up on giving, here are three easy service activities suitable for the entire family.
Most of us have a biased picture of homelessness. Did you know that familiesaccount for 40 percent of all the homeless? The most common reasons for homeless families include job loss and domestic violence which are often unavoidable. Homeless single adults suffer higher rates of mental illness, addiction and health disorders than the general population. Your family has the power to help homeless people in a very real way.
Blessing bags are made from gallon-sized Ziploc bags filled with necessities for life on the streets. While you can't build your own homeless shelter, you can give a homeless person or family the items needed to make it through the day. Your blessings bags can include: toothbrushes, toothpaste, combs, baby wipes, lotion, hand sanitizer, socks, granola bars, peanut butter crackers, canned soup, fruit cups and plastic utensils. Shop as a family. Then, keep a few bags in your car to hand out the next time you see someone on the streets.
"RAK" stands for Random Acts of Kindness, and doing little acts of service is so much fun with kids. While there are hundreds of ideas for everyday RAKs, look for ideas that appeal to your kids. Some ideas include: taping change to a vending machine, leaving dollars in the toy section at the dollar store, taking cookies to the fire or police station, donating books to your library or doing yard work for a neighbor.
Let your kids come up with fun ways to serve their friends and neighbors — they'll surprise you with their creativity. Also, remember that RAKs aren't complicated, expensive projects. Sometimes the best RAK is getting everyone in your family to smile at strangers all day long.
Organizations in your community need cash to run their operations. Unfortunately, kids are expensive and you may not have a lot of cash to spare. You can host a family fundraiser easier than you might think. Have a family garage sale, sell baked goods at your workplace or host a day camp for neighborhood kids, then donate the proceeds to charity. You can also use services such as Thred Up fundraising to turn unwanted clothes into cash for a favorite charity. Enlist the help of family and friends to make your donation even larger.
If you decide to fundraise as a family, choose a beneficent before beginning. Kids need a clear idea of exactly who they are helping to encourage them to give of their own time, money and stuff. A little sacrifice goes a long way in creating charitable children.
Having a family precludes you from running off to join the Peace Corps or teaching in a far-off country. However, it doesn't absolve you from your obligation to give back. Your kids need to see your example of charitable living. While it may seem like a headache, serving as a family should become a family must. Any hassle is well worth it in the end.