THE BLOG

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Melanie Braga Headshot

Teaching The Spirit Of Giving

Posted: Updated:
FAMILY CHARITY CHRISTMAS
Steve Debenport via Getty Images
Print

My parents were not born in Canada but emigrated here from Azores, Portugal in the 70s, and like many immigrants who were coming to Canada at that time, it was for a better life and future. My parents did not have much when they arrived in Canada, but were hopeful on the life they could build with the opportunities that were here.

Growing up I saw how much my parents worked to ensure that my sister and I had everything we needed. I remember seeing the struggling times and then some better times; above all, I always saw them give to others. They had their own way of giving, and it would be subtle. "You give from your heart and no one needs to know," they would say.

I always thought this was what we should always do, so of course I inherited that mindset. It could explain why I wanted to go into social services and how it transitioned into fundraising as I have always had a passion to help others.

So now here I am in the most important role of my life, a mother. I have the opportunity to shape, guide and support the teaching of giving to my daughter.

Our first lesson of giving was making a toy donation during the Christmas season to a toy drive. The toy that would be picked would correspond with our daughter's age. As she gets older, it will be her job to pick the special toy for the toy drive. This has become our family tradition and one that we can do together as a family. We will explain to her how important it is to give to others who are less fortunate and it not only makes other people happy but it does for us as well.

As our little girl grows we will incorporate other ways to teach her the spirit of giving and done throughout the year. We feel that by teaching her the spirit of giving, it will lay the ground work for her to become a compassionate and giving individual to others. Giving does not mean monetary all the time as well and we will need to teach her that she does not need money to be giving. I came up with a list of ideas that can help teach children how to be giving.

1. Donate gently used clothes and toys
We personally do this one already as our daughter, like many children grow out of their clothes and toys so quickly. When this happens we go through it all and give them to a family in need. If you don't know a family to give to, then Goodwill will take them.

2. Volunteer
This is a great way to give and it does not require money but only time. Think of causes that are close to your family's heart and volunteer. It could be at a food bank, toy drive, animal shelter, etc. The options can be endless.

3. Involve your child in the decision-making on a cause
Let your child tell you what they care about and what they are passionate about. It gives them more pride and drive in giving to something they really care about. If they love animals for example, they may want to support an animal organization or shelter.

4. Help a neighbour or someone elderly
This could be as simple as baking them some cookies as you see they are lonely or helping them shovel the snow. The simple acts are the ones that mean the most.

5. Create a 'donate' jar for change
Throughout the year you can put your spare change in this jar and at the end of the year, you can count what you have and donate it to a cause that the whole family cares about.

6. Have a 'Charity' Birthday
There are many ways of doing a Charity Birthday party but the concept is that a portion of the proceeds or presents will go to your child's charity of choice. A great example of an online services that does this is called ECHOage.com.

7. Be a role model
Our children are like mirrors or reflections of us. When we lead by example, they will follow and then in turn they will become their own giving leaders.
If you would like specific ideas for you and your family, leave a comment below and I will help you with some ideas.

In the meantime, our giving lessons will continue in my household in hopes to create a more generous world.

Follow HuffPost Canada Blogs on Facebook