As Christmas and the school holidays approach we may start to feel that a subtle theme of generosity and good will has started to invade our everyday lives. Perhaps it’s the increase in advertising by charities, or the “Give Dad that perfect gift” slogan that we see daily in the catalogues in our mail box that does it.
To be honest, I often think it means more pressure on us to be more and give more. It also means we start to feel a heightened sense of responsibility to impart into our children a desire to be generous.
What can we do that’s meaningful, that will help them as individuals, no matter what their age, to make choices to be generous, to connect with those less fortunate, so that they will feel personally responsible for the charity they show others?
As an adult you’re faced with the choice of charity you support on a daily basis, whether it’s buying the bandaged bear at the chemist counter or setting up the direct debit to your preferred child sponsorship program. So the first step in helping our kids engage in meaningful charity is to let them make choices.
There’s a lot to choose from so perhaps, if your child is under 10 years old, gather a sample of a few different types and offer them the opportunity to select one or two options, after explaining what the organisation does and how they help.
If they’re a little older you can ask them what type of people/issues they most care about helping (eg. the poor, the homeless, the sick) and help them google some local or OS charities. You’ll be surprised at how aware they are of the needs of people in their community.
Here are a few ideas to get you started and make your family vacation really count.

Gifts they can give:

The gift of time:

Did you know?

Many of our elderly community members spend Christmas alone because family are overseas or not willing or able to visit them. Your kids could brighten someone’s day just by spending a few hours reading, playing games and talking with them.
Why not contact your local nursing home to see whether they’d like a visit this Christmas?
You don’t have to wait until the holidays to start volunteering as a family. Why not do it regularly throughout the year? The Hills Council has a web page that lists current volunteering opportunities in your area at http://www.thehills.nsw.gov.au/Services/Our-Community/Volunteering/Current-Volunteering-Opportunities/Community-Organisation-Volunteering-Opportunities

Keeping kids safe and engaged while volunteering

Make sure that you are supervising your own children at all times. Don’t leave this up to the organisation running the activity — you want to be helpful, not an extra workload for other volunteers.
Check that the organisation you are volunteering with has leaders who’ve completed Working with Children training/checks and police checks. You should also have completed those yourself.
Remember that just because you’re passionate about a cause doesn’t mean your kids are too. If you force them to volunteer doing something you love but they don’t, they’re more likely to resent the activity than see it as a fun and meaningful family experience.
Keep it short, simple and affordable. Kids get tired and bored much quicker than adults, so set some boundaries about how long you’ll spend doing it.
Help your kids to understand what a reasonable, yet generous, budget is. Some parents even suggest that their kids use their December pocket money as the donated amount for a gift (given they’re probably going to get pretty spoilt anyway).
From our family to yours – Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! ☐