Last night as I closed our book, turned off the light, and gave Thomas some goodnight kisses, he asked me what I was going to work on once he was asleep. “Tomorrow is Giving Tuesday,” I told him. I started to explain but he interrupted me.
“I know. It’s when you buy things that help others. Like the things we buy from your artist friends in Haiti. How Emily raises money for cystic fibrosis research through her ribbon barrettes,” he told me with confidence. “We buy things that help others but we also donate things we don’t need to other families. Like my toys and clothes that we took when we cleaned my room this weekend.”
And at that very moment my heart swelled.
I know there are times that my kids don’t listen to me but our bedtime conversation demonstrated that our actions and words have had a profound impact on our kids because we’ve chosen to live a life of giving.
This Giving Tuesday make a resolution to start living a life of giving. Talking about it, modeling it through your actions, and involve your kids through things you do as a family are so important as we teach our children to think beyond themselves and to care about others in our community and around the world.
If you don’t know where to start, here’s a list of 6 simple things you can do as a family to get started.
1. Read Simple Giving
Jennifer Iacovelli’s Simple Giving: Easy Ways to Give Every Day is an easy to read handbook that contains 40 ideas to make your world a better place. I love how Jennifer encourages us to start with easy gestures of kindness like a compliment and holding a door open for someone. These seemingly insignificant gestures show kids that being nice doesn’t take time or money- just effort.
Since kids love a concrete reminder of their good deeds, the 100 Good Deeds bracelet ($30 from Macys.com and 100GoodDeeds.org) makes a great gift since it contains 100 beads and a rubber ring you slide over a bead for each good deed completed. When the ring reaches the end of the bracelet, simply start over. Challenge yourself and your kids to do a #DeedaDay in 2016 to continue the award-winning #DeedADay movement started last December.
2. Let Kids Figure Out How They Want to Make a Difference
Who do you want to help? This simple question is a great conversation as you help your kids decide how they want to make a difference. Kids will always be more interested in helping with something that they feel personally invested in.
Thomas recently cleaned his room to help pass on books and toys that he wasn’t using to an organization in our community that helps families get back on their feet. Emily’s love for her best friend with cystic fibrosis was the driving force behind her Ribbon Barrettes for Research, a fundraising effort where 100% of the proceeds benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (as a family, we consider the purchase of all supplies a donation). A friend of Emily’s is an animal lover and asked for donations to support our local animal shelter in lieu of birthday gifts. Emily’s friend, Melia, started a glove drive to benefit a community organization after experiencing cold hands during a winter walk where she forgot her gloves.
This year Save the Children is encouraging gamers to give back through video game play as part of #GamingTuesday. Today gamers can activate to help children in 120 countries around the world by choosing to play, stream, or vlog with their favorite games and fundraise to support the mission of Save the Children. The top 5 fundraisers on #GamingTuesday will win prizes courtesy of Razer. Participants can also get involved by spreading the word, donating or purchasing the #GamingTuesday Limited Edition T-Shirts & Hoodies fromTeespring! Efforts will also be doubled as all funds will be matched up to $100,000! #GamingTuesday is a great reason to spend some time today gaming all in the name of raising money to give children a healthy start, the opportunity to learn, and protect them from harm each and every day.
3. Do it Together
More hands make light work but when you engage in charitable acts together, kindness spreads. Working together as a family, asking a friend to join you in volunteer efforts, or doing it as a group activity for Scouts, church, etc. keeps kids motivated and interested when they have company.
4. Let Them Use Technology
Technology provides us with the ability to connect with people all over the world who are doing great things to help others with meaningful social good initiatives around the country. Older kids can also champion causes by using their voices and smartphones for good. If you’re looking for guidance on how to get started, here are a couple posts that provide suggestions on empowering tweens with phones:
Be sure to take a look at One.org that only requires us to use a tiny bit of time and our voices to make a huge difference for those around our world through our phones.
5. Shop Consciously
Last year I put together Purchase with a Purpose & the Importance of Purchasing Gifts that Give Back, a comprehensive guide for holiday gift giving. All of these items on this list provide sustainable jobs and economic empowerment that have transformed lives, families, and entire communities but I wanted to share a few more organizations that do great things for others thanks to your purchases.
Food for Thoughts Cards— Each purchase of a sandwich shaped card provides a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to be donated to feed the hungry. Emily and I had the opportunity to meet Food for Thoughts Cards founder, Connie Charney, at the recent KidzVuz Holiday Event and loved her vision. Connie believes that no good deed should stand alone and while a card is nice, why can’t giving back be as easy as sealing an envelope? Thanks to Food for Thoughts Cards, sending a greeting card and fighting hunger can go hand in hand because Connie and her company donate the value equivalent of the cost of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to a food pantry, soup kitchen, or other organization that feeds the hungry. Plus Food for Thoughts thinks locally so if cards are sold nearby, Connie works to find a local food pantry to benefit from the sales. Don’t you just love everything about Food for Thought Cards? I do!
Bloom + Grace— For the last two years, Bloom + Grace has partnered with the United Nation Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign to bring lifesaving vaccinations to the children who need them most. This important campaign recognizes that around the world, a child dies every 20 seconds from a disease that can be prevented by a vaccine. Yet one in five children does not have access to the vaccines needed to survive. Vaccines are safe, simple, and one of the most cost-effective ways to save and improve the lives of children worldwide. Immunization has saved the lives of more children than any other medical invention in the last 50 years and expanding access to vaccines can prevent an additional 1.5 million deaths each year. This year you can support Shot@Life with a purchase from Bloom + Grace who is doubling vaccines for all purchases made through Giving Tuesday.
6. Give Generously
If you’re in the position to shop consciously for fair trade and ethical fashion items, please also consider a donation to an organization whose projects and initiatives have a proven track record for making a real difference in people’s lives. World Vision— Earlier this year World Vision reached out to me and I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know them and their vision of fighting global poverty through their many initiatives. This year the 2015 World Vision Gift Catalog contains more than 250 poverty-fighting gifts, ranging in price from $16 to $39,000, that improve the quality of life for struggling children and families in the U.S. and around the world. Funds from the purchase of these hand-crafted gifts by artisans goes to the Where Most Needed fund which supports a variety of World Vision’s programs around the world. What We Do – Heifer International from Heifer International on Vimeo.
Heifer International— Even though Heifer was featured in last year’s Purchase with a Purpose & the Importance of Purchasing Gifts that Give Back, I can’t resist mentioning them again because they are an organization we support each and every year. Every year the kids receive money from their grandparents and Jim and I match the donation. Our kids love thumbing through the square catalog that comes in the mail, reading the stories about families whose lives have been changed by gifts of agriculture that provide a sustainable source of income from milk, eggs, honey and other products that can be sold or bartered for items they need. Not only have these gifts helped families around the world escape poverty but they have provided children with essential nutrients to help them grow and thrive.
Samples were received for review purposes. Amazon Affiliate links included in this post. All images courtesy of the companies.