This time of year children are bombarded with commercials and advertisements broadcasting the latest fad or toy your child must get for Christmas.  While it is alright to wish for new toys, often parents are looking for a way to show their children it’s not all about receiving new toys.  Here are 10 ways to teach your child to give back this season. It is not all about getting, and sometimes you receive the best gifts when you are giving!

  1. Volunteer at a food pantry.

This time of year it seems that food is all around us.  People are attending holiday dinners and parties filled with some of the best food they will have all year.  Not to mention all of the cookies, cakes and other desserts at school or office parties.  All children deserve to enjoy yummy treats of the season, but not everyone has the opportunity to enjoy a food filled Christmas.

This is a wonderful time for children or the whole family to volunteer at a local food bank.  No job is too small!  If a child is not able to serve food to others they could engage in conversation.  There are many jobs at a food pantry for children to make a difference.

  1.  Visit a nursing home.

Invite a group of children to accompany your child to a nursing home to sing carols, bring cookies, do a craft or simply socialize with the residents.  It is always best to talk to the activities coordinator first to find out about the best timing or any dietary restrictions.  When children visit a nursing home smiles not only come from the residents, but the staff find enjoyment in it as well.

  1.  Unofficially adopt a senior citizen.

There are several public nonprofits around the state who are in need of people willing to adopt a senior citizen or adopt a grandparent.  These are people in our communities who are asking for the support of others.  It is time to be with family and the ones we love.  This can be difficult for many of the elderly due to travel or lack of family.  Children would love the opportunity to create cards, crafts and buy presents for their adopted person.  There will be smiles from the gift giver and the receiver.  And, hopefully a lasting friendship will be made by one small kind gesture.

  1.  Donate toys and food.

As the end of the year approaches and the thought of Santa’s arrival comes closer it is time to make room for new toys.  There are toys your child has outgrown or simple does not play with anymore.  This is a wonderful time to donate gently used toys.  It is special and creates a giving heart of a child to give one of their toys to another child.

  1.  Write a letter to a soldier.

The United States Armed Forces is the strongest and bravest group of people in the world.  Many of them are spending the holiday deployed and away from their loved ones.  Soldiers love receiving letters and/or packages from people in the United States to remind them they are appreciated and not forgotten.  Children can draw pictures along with letters about themselves.  Parents can take this opportunity to teach children how important it is to respect and appreciate our military.

  1.  Write thank you letters to teachers, pastors, doctors or other adults and explain why you are thankful for them.

Throughout the year there are many adults who make a difference in our child’s life.  Help your child create a list of these people and why they are thankful for them and their contributions.  Everyone loves to hear thank you!  Create colorful thank you cards and help your child craft a heartfelt thank you letter to each person.  Depending on the situation, the card could be mailed or hand delivered!    

  1.  Make cookies for the police, EMT and fireman.

Police, EMT and fireman are working around the clock to keep our communities safe.  People are constantly contacting them for help.  The holiday season is a perfect opportunity to contact these workers, but to simply give back.  Visit your local police station or fire department and deliver a batch of homemade cookies.  It is important to make this your best ones ever with lots of icing and sprinkles!  This is a sugary way to bring a little light into someone’s day and to let them know they are appreciated.

  1. Volunteer to rake leaves or sweep a front porch.

Here is Georgia fall can last all the way up unto the new year with leaves falling off the trees.  In my neighborhood there is always a porch or driveway covered with leaves.  Accompany your child to homes in your neighborhood and ask them if you may remove the leaves from their yard.  This is going to take hard work, but it is worth it!  Your child might want to ask a friend to help out.  Remember to bring a broom, rake and trash bag.  Remember, if someone offers your child money for the services do not accept.  This is a time of giving back and not receiving.  Plus, the is a wonderful way to meet neighbors and spread holiday cheer!

  1.  Create paintings or colorings for the patients at the hospital.

Encourage your child to spread their artistic ability with others this season.  Every child is creative and artistic in their own way.  Children can use, paint, pencils, markers, crayons or any other type of tool to create a beautiful piece of art to share with other children.  Visit the local hospital with your child and allow them deliver their artwork to patients.  Check with the hospital before you starting delivering artwork to see if there is a certain area you should focus on.  Doctors and nurses would enjoy the art as well!

  1.  Do an unasked chore around the house.

Speak with your child about giving back without being told.  This could be as simple as folding laundry, taking out the trash or doing the dishes without being asked to do them.  Explain that this simple gesture can brighten your family’s day!

Hopefully by participating in some of these activities children will begin to see this season is not so much about getting but giving!  Happy Holidays!