BGCA (The Boys and Girls Club of America) enables young people, especially those who need us the most in life, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, and responsible citizens. It is a safe place where children can learn and grow, and experience ongoing relationships with adults professionals who care. They have a series of programs to help children develop character and a strong sense of value. It promotes hope and opportunity for the young children of this country. I had the pleasure to volunteer at our local BGCA last year, and I will tell you the programs that they put on for the children of our town, is heartwarming. It is nice to know that these children are able to participate in these programs that they otherwise not been able to afford. They make a difference in child’s lives and opens the doors for them to have a great future.
This year, marks the 2nd annual BGCA Give the Gift of a Great Future Campaign. This campaign started by the Boys and Girls club to teach kids the true value of giving back this holiday season. With the holidays coming up, everything is centered around family but also around a lot of gift giving. While I am happy to provide gifts for my kids, I also want them to learn the value of giving back this holiday season. My husband and I have always given back to our community in various ways through financial donations to volunteering our time to help out those who are less fortunate. We want to show our children just how good giving back truly feels and allow them ways to help out, even at their age. I strongly encourage you to visit the BGCA website and see more information about their organization and how they are showing children the true meaning of giving back.
The BGCA compiled a list of tips to help parents teach their children the value of giving back. I have included them below, so you can use them this holiday season:
- Talk about giving. Tell your kids which causes you’re supporting this year and why. Better yet, make the choice together. Or give each child a portion of what you plan to donate this year and allow him or her to choose the charity.
- Read books about giving. Try The Mitten Tree by Candace Christiansen, I Can Make a Difference by Julie and Amanda Sexson or a selection from Learning to Give’s Annotated Bibliography of Children’s Literature.
- Volunteer together. Whether serving a meal at a soup kitchen or lending a hand at an animal shelter, volunteering helps kids learn compassion – and it’s a great way for families to spend time together. Check with your child’s school, your religious institution, a local Boys & Girls Club or The Volunteer Family for project ideas.
- Encourage routine volunteering. Contributing regularly to an organization they choose can be meaningful, showing kids that they have the power to make a difference. This is especially true for teens. Support them by providing transportation or extra allowance for expenses, if needed.
- Do something fun, like cooking or an art project. Even very young children can make cards for senior center residents or help you bake a tasty treat for a neighbor. These are perfect ways to have fun while thinking about others.
- Tell family stories about philanthropy. Talk about times when your family has helped someone in need, or times when your family has received help.
- Acknowledge and celebrate all kinds of giving acts. Whether your child volunteers, donates allowance, helps a friend or neighbor, or is simply being kind to a sibling, be sure to praise the effort.
- Be enthusiastic! Boys & Girls Club kids who are active in community service say they’re inspired by the adults in their lives who give back, too.
- It’s o.k. to offer incentives. Especially for young children, food or prizes can help sweeten the deal when you’re asking them to spend time working for a cause.
- Make philanthropy a family value. The holidays are a natural fit for giving, but causes can use your support in other seasons, too. Look for opportunities throughout the year to reinforce the idea that helping others is important. Boys & Girls Club teens who are passionate about community service said it was critical to hear this message repeatedly from the adults in their lives
We do generally follow most of these tips in our family but it was nice to see a few others that we haven’t been doing, be included in the list. We are trying to follow all the tips listed above so I can show Hayley and Zane the importance of giving, not always receiving. We follow tip one- talk about giving- to our children all the time. Hayley actually came home from school the other day and said, “Mommy…There is a toy drive at our school…Can I pick out some toys?” This absolutely melted my heart! We then ended up picking out a few toys and donating to her school for their fundraiser.
Hayley also visited a nursing home this year and she ended up making 20 cards for the people in the nursing home. She spent at least an hour on it, and we went together to hand deliver them. As a mom, I never felt prouder! I plan to incorporate the book suggestions on tip 2, into her holiday stocking, so she could read some wonderful books about giving back. I am very thankful for the BGCA club for giving us these tips, as they helped my husband and I, teach our kids about giving back. Take a look at the tips and see if you can incorporate them into your lives….
While you are reading the tips above and encouraging your children to give back, be sure to play the free and easy, as well as fun Giving Game! When you and your kids play it, they can earn a gift for the deserving children at a BGCA club this holiday season. I know this would be fun for your child, and equally fun for a child to perhaps get a gift, they might have not received. I also encourage you to visit the BGCA Facebook Page today to vote for the Kids Give Back photo contest. Vote for your favorite service project and the winning club will receive a $2,500 grant from BGCA.
So tell me, are you teaching your children about giving this holiday season?
*I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Boys and Girls Clubs of America. I received a promotional item as a thank-you for participating