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Friday, December 20, 2019

Giving Back During the Holidays to Bring Families Together


Tis the season to give back and to spend time with family. Why not do both at once? 

Our friend Craig Kielburger, co-founder of WE Charity, shared a few ways to get your kids or grandkids involved in giving back this holiday season and throughout the year.

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Yule, or non-denominational holiday spirit, it’s the season for family. And, I personally believe that nothing brings a family closer than coming together to do good. What better way to celebrate the season than to combine the two? Here are a few tips and ideas to bring families closer by giving back this holiday season.


Let your kids lead

If there’s one thing I’ve learned after 25 years working with young volunteers, it’s that kids are far more engaged when they feel empowered. Parents, let your kids choose a cause they care about and take the lead on how the family will take action (after you help with a bit of research, of course). When kids feel a sense of ownership and responsibility for an issue, they’re more likely to stick with it. And, when they go back to school in the New Year, they’ll be bragging to friends about what your family accomplished instead of moaning about what mom and dad made them do.

Change it up and make it fun

A colleague of mine recently told me about a tradition in his family. They alternate between gifts and giving. Every other year, the money they would have spent on gifts for each other becomes a donation to different causes. To make the donation years more fun, they fill each other’s stockings with small and inexpensive items, both silly and serious, and label them with horrible puns. On Christmas morning, they take turns pulling out items and reading the labels aloud for a good laugh.

Time is money

Giving back doesn’t have to mean donating money. Volunteer time can be even more valuable, and be a bonding experience for the whole family. Why not host a party for your family and friends to make home-made greeting cards for soldiers serving abroad? And, at this time of year, food banks can always use a hand preparing and delivering food kits to individuals and families in your community. There are even opportunities on Christmas Day, serving holiday meals at soup kitchens.



Spread good cheer

If you’re going to visit a grandparent in their seniors’ home, share the warmth. Get permission for your family to deliver goodies or sing carols for the residents. Bring some cheer to those who may not have family visits to look forward to. You can do the same thing in your own neighborhood. Go door-to-door with home-baked gingerbread cookies and a holiday greeting card from your family. It’s a great way to build a stronger community—and teach your kids about the value of community—in an age of growing detachment. And, who knows, you might just bring a little light to a neighbor who is feeling lonely and isolated this holiday season.

Plan for a year of giving

December isn’t the only time people are in need. As you look to the New Year, think about what your family can do in the coming months. To keep up the commitment, it can help to plan a whole season of giving in advance, based on need. In January, animal shelters are usually hit with unwanted pets, unwisely given as holiday gifts. And again in the spring as ‘kitten season’ begins. A donation of pet food, or a few hours of volunteer dog walking, helps a lot. When summer begins and school breakfast and lunch programs end, food banks need support as demand skyrockets from low-income families. There are countless opportunities for your family to make a difference the other eleven months of the year.  



From my family to yours: happy holidays and happy giving back!

Written by Craig Kielburger, co-founder of WE Charity, a 4-star international charity working to excite and empower youth to get involved and give back in their communities. The organization also works in communities around the globe to expand economic opportunities and achieve sustainable change.

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