Q. My children are so focused on the gifts they want during the holidays. How can I make them see that giving to others in need can be satisfying, too?
A. From the time my kids were toddlers, they worked alongside my husband and I, gathering groceries for the local food pantry, collecting used coats from the neighborhood for a homeless shelter, and buying toys for the Marine Corps Toys for Tots program. As a result they grew up thinking of others above themselves during the holidays, and today they each give back to their communities at home and abroad.
Today is Giving Tuesday, a nationwide initiative with a goal of celebrating generosity and giving. This year, my family and I are participating through Walmart's Holiday Sing2Salute Military Families campaign, which encourages families to sing a portion of a classic holiday song (captured on video), and then post it on social media channels.
You can participate between now and Dec. 22 by doing the following:
- Create a holiday greeting or video of one or more individuals singing a portion of a classic holiday song.
- Post the greeting or video on an Instagram, Twitter, or YouTube account with the hashtag #Sing2Salute. If you're posting on YouTube, make sure the hashtag is in your video's title and post description.
- In the post, tag friends and call on them to participate.
For each public post during the campaign, Walmart will donate $100, up to $1 million, to Fisher House Foundation. The goal is to fund a full year of lodging for military families staying at Fisher Houses on U.S. military bases. To see my family's salute, follow me @elliekay. In my visits to Fisher House and my work with them, I've seen how important this is to military families. To learn more about Walmart's Holiday Sing to Salute Military Families campaign, review rules for participation, and see featured videos, go here.
Another way my kids and I give back is through the Greenlight A Vet campaign. You can show support for veterans by changing one light bulb in your home to green (get your kids to help), raising awareness on social media, volunteering with veteran groups in your community, or starting a mentor/mentee relationship with a vet.
There are so many other ways to get your kids psyched about giving. Have them collect coins from their piggy and donate them to the Salvation Army's Red Kettle campaign, now in its 125th year of providing food, shelter, clothing, and financial assistance, and other services for those in need. You can volunteer together at a soup kitchen or an elder care center. Or find a kid-oriented cause that will resonate with your child. Need more ideas? Go here. The key is not what cause you choose to help, or whether you donate your time or money. Rather, it's that you do something together to capture the true spirit of the holiday: giving.
Ellie Kay is a family financial expert, the author of Heroes at Home and a mom of seven. Read more of her advice at elliekay.com.