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5 Ways Kids Can Give Back This Holiday Season {2016}

5 Ways Kids Can Give Back This Holiday Season {2016} | Columbia SC Moms BlogIt’s officially the holiday season! But just because Thanksgiving is in the past doesn’t mean that we have to throw gratitude and thankfulness out the window.

There is a popular saying, “The only time you should look to see what your neighbor has is to make sure they have enough. You don’t look to see if you have as much as they do.”

I do my best to instill this value in my own children. And the holiday season is the perfect time to come together as a family and give back to others. Here are 5 ways you can get involved, so be sure to bookmark and pin this page so you can reference it year after year.

Operation Christmas Child

This is our family’s personal favorite. Every year in November we pack either a shoebox or a designated OCC box for either a boy or a girl full of items they will enjoy. It’s fun going to the store with my kids and pick out things together. There is a suggested packing list on the website of what to include. The box pick up for 2016 has already passed, but you can donate to the organization anytime throughout the year and put it on your list of projects to participate in next year.

Toys For Tots

Started in 1947 in Los Angeles, this national program accepts new, unwrapped toys ($10 and up) and distributes them to local children. Midlands donations are given to children in Fairfield, Lexington, Newberry, Saluda and Richland counties. You can make a monetary donation through the program’s website, or drop off toys at Babies R Us and Toys R Us (and if you’re in the store shopping for your kiddos, why not pick up something extra for a child in need?).

Families Helping Families 

This program provides assistance to families throughout the Midlands (Fairfield, Newberry, Lexington and Richland counties), as well as the Charleston area. Nearly 3,000 families across the state are served with not only Christmas gifts, but food and clothes as well. Donate or sign up to sponsor a family this holiday season.

Stuff a Bus

This local effort provides gifts and food to local families through the Salvation Army. They will be at four Walmart stores in the Columbia area on Friday, December 2, collecting new, unwrapped toys, non-perishable food items, and money. The goal is to stuff the bus full of goodies at each location. Pick out special items to give while shopping at the store or bring a new item from home to donate.

Give From Your Own Possessions

Teaching your children to be charitable doesn’t have to mean spending a lot of money. There are several other options for those who wish to give with little to no out-of-pocket cost.

  • Donate Clothing and Toys: The holidays are the perfect time to go through your closet and toy box to make room for new items. Or, if you’re like me and moving in a few weeks, it’s another opportunity to determine what to keep and what’s not needed any longer. We donate a lot of our things to His House Ministries, a 501 C-3 non-denominational Christian ministry to men who are recovering from alcohol abuse. The volunteers there are always friendly and walk out to my vehicle to pick up my donations. Some other great local thrift stores to donate your items are: Palmetto Thrift Store and St. Paws Thrift Store.
  • Offer a Meal: If you have an elderly neighbor, or if you know a family in need, providing non-perishable food items or a meal is another way to teach children the joy of giving. Whether you put together a basket, provide dinner, or donate to Harvest Hope Food Bank, you can also use this particular opportunity to talk to your children about gratitude.

Make giving a family affair for your children. Include them in the process of deciding how your family can give back during the holidays. It’s also important that kids know why they are doing it and not just going through the motions. Young children may not fully understand, but they will understand that they are helping (and at a young age they always want to be helpful as much as possible).

Lastly, don’t forget to make them feel appreciated for their hard work; no matter how big or small their gestures, they should know that whatever they did, it was amazing.

If you want to make giving year-round for your family, check out Volunteer Match and Do Something. They offer great opportunities for kids and adults to volunteer in our area.

Happy Holidays!

Does your family have a charitable holiday tradition? Share yours in the comments.

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