by Jill P
With the Thanksgiving season upon us, I try to incorporate ideas of being thankful and giving back into our lives as much as possible. I want my son to know that Thanksgiving is more than turkey and stuffing – and it’s about being thankful for all of the blessings that we have.
Below is a list of ideas for how we express gratitude in our home and start the discussion about giving back to our community.
1. Volunteering in Kalamazoo
Last September, we volunteered as a family in Volunteer Kalamazoo’s Family Day of Service. We had a great time participating in this event and loved the hands-on ways that we could give back to our community. My son has such a great time that he asked when we could do it again! I loved that he got to see all of the ways that he could help our community. Volunteer Kalamazoo has a great section on their website with ideas and opportunities to volunteer with your kids.
2. Donating Toys
This is an easy way for kids to experiencing sacrifice and generosity. Every few months, my son and I go through his room. We have a “save” box and a “donate” box. There are always a few toys that are very hard for him to give up. It’s a great chance for us to talk about how giving the toy to another family will give someone else a chance to enjoy it. These conversations are a nice way to discuss sharing, giving, poverty and generosity.
3. Christmas Wish List for Others
When we are putting together our own Christmas Wish List, we also created a Give List of toys that we think other kids would enjoy. Last year, we made a day of shopping with our Give List. We bought 5 or 6 toys we thought other kids my son’s age would enjoy. We brought them to our local Toys For Tots campaign to be donated to children in need. Click on the link for donation drop-off locations.
4. Food Pantry
Last year, we made a special shopping trip to the store and selected items on the Loves and Fishes wishlist. We took the collection to the food pantry, and discussed the role of the food pantry in our community. Loaves and Fishes has a “wishlist” of wanted items on their website. The need is especially great this year. Throughout the Kalamazoo Holiday Parade this Saturday, volunteers will be collecting canned goods and cash donations for the Kalamazoo Loaves and Fishes Food Drive. Make sure to bring cans and your change to help out this great cause!
5. Making Cards for the Elderly
This allows my son to use his creativity, while keeping in the giving spirit. I purchase 10-20 blank cards, and my son decorates them with a Christmas theme. We wait for closer to Christmas, and then deliver them to the local nursing home.
6. Operation Christmas Child
This will be our first year in participating in Operation Christmas Child. I have many friends who have done this each year and have found it very rewarding. During National Collection Week, November 17-24, more than 4,000 drop-off sites will be open. There’s even a place to find out where the nearest collection location is to you.
There are plenty of other awesome and innovative ideas out there. If you have a creative idea you’ve used in your home, please share your ideas in the comment section below!