Recently I have been witness to wonderful things happening all around me. I’m talking about people giving back, charity work, donating, and volunteering. Through the thick haze of unpleasant things in this world you will find that there is still much good. I call it social goodness and it is a concept that many families, companies, and groups have adopted at the forefront of their family and social missions.
Social goodness is giving back, in any form that you can imagine, for the greater good of society.
You would have to be living under a rock to not know about the ice bucket challenge to benefit ALS. I personally have loved seeing all of the posts and videos of my friends and their children partaking in this challenge, as well as donating to the cause. It is wonderful that a disease that causes so much pain and suffering for so many people has gained awareness as well as financial support for continued research. Some of the feedback I have seen though has been heartbreaking. Calling this challenge “trendy” and remarks like “I am sick of seeing the videos” or asking how someone could let their child participate as well is difficult to hear.
I say let your kids do it.
Let them donate all the money in their piggy bank. Video tape it, post it, shout it out from the top of the roof. Let everyone know that you are doing something good to help people you might not know and you are proud of it. When we do something to help others our children notice this and a lesson of empathy and generosity is imprinted on their developing minds.
Doing these acts of charity with our children teach them other valuable lessons; that the world does not revolve around them. Children learn to be grateful for what they have and they learn that the generosity of others can be contagious. We are the role models of this behavior so when we do things for others, with no expectations of something in return, children are seeing the power of selfless acts of kindness. If we only donate to charities or volunteer our time for things that directly affect us and the ones we love, what can that possibly be teaching our children? Every year my family depends on the charity and contributions of others. We spend about four months out of the year raising funds for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, my daughter has juvenile diabetes, so this is something that is personal for us. I rely on financial contributions, volunteers, and people coming out to walk with us to raise money for research and awareness of the disease. Most people who donate their time and money didn’t have a connection to the disease until they met my daughter. If I relied only on the people who had a personal connection to this disease our efforts would fail. But people are good, they want to be socially good, and they are teaching their children social goodness when they participate in charitable events.
Children can do so much! Even at a young age children can give back.
Here are five simple ways to teach you children social goodness:
1. Donate toys If your house is like mine you have a lot of toys laying around that aren’t being played with anymore. Sit down with your child and sort through these toys. Donate toys that aren’t being played with anymore to a local shelter, Goodwill, or local playgroup. 2. Pick up trash Find a local park, beach, or playground and walk around the surrounding area picking up trash. This is great to do with children in the spring during Green Up Day events. 3. Raise money for a charity Have your child pick a charity, either something local or on a national scale. They can have an art show, lemonade stand, bake sale, or bottle drive to raise money for the charity.
4. Visit a local animal shelter Many animal shelters love having people come in to play with the animals, walk the dogs, and help care for them. With an adult (some shelters have age requirements) children can spend some time giving much needed attention to shelter animals. 5. Start a food drive Food drives are a simple and easy way for kids to help give back to the community. They can start a drive at their school, their parents work, or just in their neighborhood. Donate the collected goods to a local food shelf.
If helping others, volunteering, and donating to charitable foundations and research organizations is trendy then sign me and my children up. I am happy to be teaching my children the value of social goodness and instilling in them the understanding of what it means to be a kind, empathetic, and generous member of their community. Kids are amazing helpers and most children want to help but it starts with us, showing them, modeling this positive behavior.