When children give back, Everyone wins
Chicago families share fantastic advice on how to navigate parenting in the city in our NPN Parent to Parent Newsletter. Thanks to Beth, our NPN New Moms Groups Manager, for this great article - here is a glimpse. Download the full NPN summer issue to read more!
Since our daughter Evie turned three, we’ve been giving her an allowance for “helping out” around the house. Each Sunday we give her three quarters: one for her “spending jar,” one for her piggy bank and one for her “Tzedakah Box” (charity). We wanted her to know, from the get-go, that when we get money, we spend some, save some and give some away.
When her little brother turned one, we asked friends and family to bring non-perishable foods to his party rather than gifts, since he was too little to understand presents. Evie helped me deliver the food to the Lakeview Food Pantry, where we found every seat full and a line forming out the door. She was surprised to see how many people in her neighborhood didn’t have enough to eat when she always had plenty.
This experience prompted an interesting dialogue about social awareness and giving back to the community. In 2010, her birthday fell a week after Chanukah, when she received LOTS of presents. In early November, we talked about children who would not get any holiday gifts because their parents didn’t have extra money and using her birthday party to collect toys. We explained that she would still get presents, just not at the party. So Evie asked her friends to bring a new, unwrapped toy to her birthday party to donate to “Toys for Tots.” She was so proud of herself that she announced to random strangers that, for her birthday, she was “donating.” On our way to the “Toys for Tots” drop-off site, she told me that she thought donating was “funner” than getting presents, and she was going to do it every year.
Opting out of party gifts is contagious. Evie told her friends she was “donating” and her friends asked their parents if they could “donate” for their birthdays. It is important to abide by these “in lieu of a gift, please” requests.
Many organizations are in dire need of support. Find a charity that your child(ren) will connect with and go from there. Here are charities and ideas Evie and I have considered:
- Bundle of Joy Diaper Bank
- Chicago Communities in Schools
- Coat Angels
- Lakeview Food Pantry
- Lincoln Park Zoo
- Shedd Aquarium
- Habitat for Humanity
- Greater Chicago Food Depository
- PAWS Chicago
- Children’s Memorial Hospital
- WTTW Public Television
- American Red Cross
Whether you choose to use your child’s birthday or a holiday as a jumping-off point, the impact will ripple into the community, and your child will make a positive impact on his/her world. In the end, isn’t that what parents want most?Here are a few fun resources to get you started at home:
- Moonjar Moneybox Savings Bank
- Make the three jars yourself - or pick out 3 fun little "piggy" banks
- High tech route - TheeJars.com
What a great way to teach a lifetime of giving!