Tuesday, October 15th, 2013
Pencils. Books. Backpacks. What did your children need as they went back to school this fall? In many areas of the world, the most important thing that children need to be ready to learn is more basic: a nutritious meal! Our ability to access food in the United States is often taken for granted until we realize the true impact of what it means to be hungry. Hungry kids have trouble learning but in countries around the world such as Kenya, Niger, and Honduras, school meals are life changing.
This week the World Food Program USA (WFP USA) is encouraging families around the country to pack lunches for 5 days and donate the money you would have spent buying lunch in your workplace cafeteria or going out to eat to WFP USA’s Lunch Money Challenge. All it takes is a quarter a day to provide a healthy meal for a child through the Home Grown School Meals program, a nutritious and sustainable program that uses food by local farmers.
Providing a nutritious meal each day helps to improve life chances for kids in Honduras, Niger, and Kenya. School meals give poor families an incentive to send their children to school, especially girls who may not otherwise have the opportunity to receive education. The meals help kids reach their full potential by breaking the cycle of hunger and poverty for the world’s most vulnerable kids.
The Lunch Money Challenge can serve as a great springboard for talking about social good with your children since it’s one the whole family can get involved in. Talk to your kids about why you’re bringing lunch this week, rather than buying it from the school cafeteria. Chances are they’ll be on board and happy to give up school pizza for the week. After all, a study by the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and supported by the United Nations Foundation found that 9 out of 10 American youth between the ages 8-19 give money to organizations that support charitable causes.
According to mom, former teacher, blogger, and social good advocate, Elena Sonnino, “teaching our children to use their voices for good- as change agents- and to be charitable is a gift that we can give them.” Sonnino encourages parents to be a role model but also have a conversation about giving with children that explains our action and behaviors.
If you don’t know where to start, she suggests discussing these questions:
- Do my children know that I give to charity?
- Do they know which charities I am supporting?
- Do they know why I choose to give specifically to this charity and the impact of my giving?
And why do we want to raise charitable children? Sonnino believes that “learning about others and caring about others impacts everyone. Our 21st century children are entering a world with the understanding that what impacts one child, far away, has a ripple effect on all of us.”
So go ahead and get involved by starting with The Lunch Money Challenge. Line up your lunch bags, make some sandwiches, grab a piece of fruit, and repeat it five times and teach your kids how to help others around the world with this very simple act that can make a world of difference.
Image courtesy of World Food Program USA
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Wednesday, December 19th, 2012
At a time when it may seem like all you hear is the word “want,” how do turn the consumerism into charity by giving back at the holidays and throughout the year? Every family chooses to give in a different way and at times that are right for them. If you’re looking to start a holiday tradition focused on giving, these bloggers have some sage advice about conversations to have with your kids about getting involved.
Start when they’re young. Jennifer Quillen (aka The Rebel Chick) started charitable giving practices when her daughter was a toddler and participate in the church Angel Tree program, Toys for Tots, and Operation Christmas Child. Quillen says her daughter “has grown up knowing that giving back is just a part of the holiday season and she LOVES it!”
Do it together. Creating Motherhood’s Dresden Shumaker works with her son to go through his toys and clothes to decide which ones are ready to be shared with a new family. “He comes with me when we take the donation to Goodwill. It is a cycle for him that he knows as just two years ago we were holiday shopping at this same Goodwill.”
Choose a cause that moves you. Living in the area affected by Hurricane Sandy, Melissa Chapman of Staten Island Family started It Takes a Family. “The reason I started ItTakesaFamily.net was specifically to show my kids how important it is to help others. We’ve been able to raise over $10,000 for families affected by hurricane Sandy on Staten Island and in doing so I truly hope my kids are gleaning the importance of charity and learning that none of us are an island- we are all in this together.” If you aren’t quite sure where to give, Amy Mascott of TeachMama has put together a list of resources as part of her #blog4cause initiative.
Give the gift of time. Not all are in a position to provide cash or goods and for children who want to help, you can instill the spirit of volunteerism. Jill Berry’s (Musings from Me) 9th grade daughter has to complete service hours for her school by volunteering at swim meets, helping at Sunday School, packing Thanksgiving baskets for families at church, and through serving meals at a soup kitchen.
Help a family with the same age kids as yours. Amy Kronstedt of Grinning Cheek to Cheek and her family decided to participate in Operation Christmas Child this year and let her son choose a toy for a boy his age.
Let them use their own money. The school that Andrea Katz’ children attend adopts angel kids for the holidays and her children enjoy using their own money to purchase items. “They love giving to charity,” Katz exclaims.
Teach children to shop consciously when giving gifts to others. Products from Maiden Nation, Macy’s Heart of Haiti, or Rwanda Path to Peace impact the artisans who create the goods that are sold because a part of the money generated from each sale goes directly back to them. For example, Maiden Nation’s Chan Luu’s Glamour Kiss Kiss Bracelet features handmade paper beads created by women that are part of the Hands Together Cooperative who live at the J/P Haitian Relief Organization in Petionville, Haiti. $6 from the sale of each $25 bracelet goes directly to the women at Hands Together, making this an impactful gift since $5 is considered a good day’s wage in Haiti.
Continue the spirit of giving throughout the year by paying it forward. Mascott uses Spend, Safe, Give jars in her house so her three children are learning to budget and be charitable at the same time. Mascott says her children understand “how good it feels to dump their ‘give’ money into a bag and hand it to the Salvation Army volunteer at holiday time, put it in the donation box at church, or bring it to our relay team at Relay for Life.”
Beggar or needy person with cupped hands together in hope for a charitable assistance via Shutterstock
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