There is no a better time of the year than the winter holiday season to involve children and teenagers in charitable giving and teach them why the old adage, “It is better to give than to receive,” is true. World Vision offers five great ways for parents to lead by example and teach their children the true spirit of the holidays:
- Consider do-it-yourself gifts, like no-sew fleece blankets that
you can make with your children. Donate those blankets to a local
- Cherish the stories of your family. Have your children talk to
their grandparents and write down the stories of their past. Create a
book to share with the entire family or record it online.
- As a family, select a charitable organization you'd like to support. Use online tools like Charity Navigator
to find an organization that you trust. Give your children a budget and
encourage them to decide how your family will donate to that
organization this holiday. For example, flipping through the World Vision Gift Catalog will give children an idea of the difference they can make in other people’s lives.
- Work with your children to create a coupon book for your
neighbors that might need an extra hand this year. Coupons could
include shoveling their sidewalk, watching their children or providing a
- Bake cookies or sweets with your children and deliver them to
your local nursing home or school-in-need. Get started with this list of
In addition to teaching children how to give during the
holidays, it is equally as important but possibly even more challenging,
to show teenagers the true spirit of the holidays. World Vision Teen Engagement Expert, Michele Tvedt has several tips for parents including:
- Start with conversation. Watch the nightly news together, and
take time to discuss stories that touch on people struggling with
poverty, unemployment or other tragedies. Let your teen lead the
discussion and listen for them to express interest or passion in a
particular social issue.
- Begin to give teens a voice in family giving. Let your teen know you would like to give a charitable gift as a family to mark the holiday season, but that you'd love to let them be the final decision maker.
- Take advantage of volunteering requirements that your teen may
have to fulfill at school. Offer to help your teen find an organization
that fits their interest. Keep in mind that teenagers are eager for
authentic, powerful experiences. They will respond best to opportunities
that allow them to experience poverty firsthand.
"The holiday season can be a stressful time of year. There are gifts to purchase and wrap,
cookies to bake, and family and friends to visit, but when we pause to
help our neighbors in need, we all experience the holidays in a more
meaningful way," said Traci Coker, charitable giving expert and national
director of World Vision’s Gift Catalog.
For each item in World Vision’s Gift Catalog, the giver makes the purchase in the name of a friend, family member or business associate. World Vision then sends special cards to those individuals, describing the gifts and their impact. Last year alone, World Vision’s Gift Catalog raised $32 million and provided assistance to more than 800,000 people worldwide. The Gift Catalog launched in 1996, and while a goat ($75) is still World Vision’s number one seller, there are many affordable items for $35 or less.