The Art of Giving Back

The holidays are an exciting and overwhelming time for children. Candy, cookies, parties, presents. That’s why during this season we at Shine feel compelled to share with our families the importance of giving back and teaching children how to strike that balance between selfish and selfless. However, introducing children to public service in a meaningful way can be daunting. We value community building, especially for those in need. Through our Lighthouse Project, our experienced educators introduce kids to the idea of charity in a safe and age-appropriate manner. Children have fun but also learn the value of giving back.

Art of Giving BackYou don’t need to go far to participate in some easy ways to give back to your community. Even very busy families and children can use some of the ideas below to create charitable opportunities at home (and have fun too)!

Decorate a piggy bank and use it to collect charity.  We love the idea of ordering plain piggy banks and having children decorate them with acrylic paints and rhinestones. We use these special banks to collect money for charity. When the bank is full, take the money out, count it together and donate it to a charity of your choice.

Decorate a cardboard box and use it to collect a variety of items. Using craft supplies, wrapping paper scraps, paint, and glitter, have children decorate a collection bin. Keep it in your kitchen and after grocery shopping allow them to put one or two non-perishables in the box. When it’s full, you can deliver it to your local food pantry. If you prefer, use the box to collect old clothes, gently used toys, baby goods, coats or any items that need to be collected for various drives. Children learn a lot by selecting old toys they no longer use to donate to children in need. It’s hard to let go but learning that their old toys help kids who have none is a great lesson.

Decorate paper lunch bags to donate to Meals on Wheels or any other charity that distributes meals or food to those in need.

Make homemade cat toys or dog biscuits to donate to your local animal shelter.

Make cards to deliver to families spending holidays in the NICU.

Decorate small paper grocery bags or shoeboxes and create care kits for the homeless. We like to fill ours with homemade cards, socks, a water bottle, scarves, gloves, and some kind of snack.

Bake cookies for a bake sale and use the proceeds to donate to your favorite charity. Or drop the cookies off to local heroes who work the night shifts at the hospital, police station or fire station. For older children, it’s possible to take charity out of the house and into the community. Volunteer at a soup kitchen, visit children in hospitals or care centers, visit an animal shelter and help walk the dogs, do a crafts session with the elderly at a senior center, participate in a park or beach clean-up or even help to deliver meals.

Charitable work represents a fruitful opportunity for children to take part in the joy of giving.  It also offers unique “teaching moments” in artistic creativity or even through the physical act of counting donated coins. Every little bit helps and more often than not families get back more than they give.

For more ideas on how you can give back, to arrange a private charity event, take part in our monthly Lighthouse Project or let us know about a charitable opportunity, contact us at info@shinenyc.net. Happy Holidays!

By Aaron Goldschmidt, Founder & Director, Shine

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