Often when it comes to giving back the focus is on what adults can do to help in the community. It is easy to focus on the things that adults have the means to carry out, however I truly believe that everyone no matter what age they are can help make their community a better place. As part of this belief I work to empower my children to come up with ideas on how they can give back or help brighten someones day.
We all know just how powerful a smile is, and helping children realize they have the power to make someone smile is not only a gift to the person receiving, but also a great way to help your child build confidence in themselves and see what a positive impact they can have. In this post I am going to give you 10 fun ideas for children to give back that can be used during the holidays or all year long.
I love the quote from Arthur Ashe “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” Putting the focus on what we, and our children, CAN do helps children feel empowered and helps them to see where they fit in our communities. By starting to teach children about giving back when they are small, their ideas of how to give back can grow as they do.
10 Fun Ideas For Children to Give Back
1 – Bake up a Storm – Children LOVE helping in the kitchen. I know it can be messy, but nothing a broom and a damp wash cloth can’t take care of. Have your kids pick out some easy recipes that they can make on their own (or get in there with them to help too) to bake up some goodies.
Need some baking inspiration? Try the Mint Fudge or Peppermint Oreo Truffles Now once you have them baked up where are you going to take them? Well how about a elderly neighbour in your area? Or call your local shelter or Food Bank and I am sure they will be glad to accept homemade goodies for their clients. If you are making the goodies at Christmas time, you can find cute bags and tags at your local dollar store.
2 – Food Drives – While Christmas is a popular time for food drives, the need is there all year long. Find one to participate in or start your own. Monkey’s birthday is in the summer and we have collected food to donate instead of gifts as this is a high need time for many food banks. Kids can get crafty making signs to let people know about the food drive, and when it is time to sort and pack the food, you just provide the boxes and some direction and they do the rest.
3 – Spread the Cheer – Sometimes the most powerful thing you can give someone is a smile. It is easy to spread some smiles and cheer on our Team Canada Athletes this year as they gear up for February. Pick up a specially marked box of Original, Honey Nut or Multigrain Cheerios available across Canada and send a postcard to our Canadian athletes for FREE. And what is better then getting mail that is NOT a bill?!? Monkey wanted to share the message that practice pays off, and Bear sent a message of love with lots of hearts.
And Roo, well she had fun coloring the post card and helping mail it off. Creating these messages of encouragement was a fun activity and opened up the door to a great conversation about the kind things we can say to each other to build each other up. When people feel better they do better, so this Christmas we are spreading some cheer to out Canadian Athletes thanks to Cheerios with the pre-paid cheer cards as they get ready for likely the biggest event of their sporting careers.
So when you are done with your box of Cheerios, pass it on to the kids to have them cut out the Cheer Card, white a message for the Athletes and drop it in the mail. Spread your cheer even further on social media with the hashtag #BeTheCheer!
4 – Reading Buddies – If your child is old enough to read then they can make an excellent reading buddy to a senior. You can reach out to your local seniors residence or nursing home to ask about visiting seniors and spending some time reading together. When my Grandma was in a nursing home we went for weekly visits to see her, but also many of the other seniors there.
They were always full of smiles every time we walked through the door, and it didn’t matter what books we were reading (we always had children’s picture books) they were thrilled to spend time together with us. And if you child is not old enough to read, I bet you will find some willing participants to read to your child or just to browse the books together.
5 – Get your Knitting On – There are tons of free video tutorials and free knitting patterns out there for Children or teens to create items to donate. Small blankets or hats for the NICU, simple scarves for you local shelter. And if you child wants to be creative and give back but is not quite at the level of knitting, then they could try a no sew fleece blanket instead.
6 – Napkin holders or Place Mats for Meals on Wheels – Your children can spruce up a Meals on Wheels Delivery by decorating napkin holders or place mats that can go out with the meals. It is the little things that can brighten someones day, and trust me when I say a that the seniors really appreciate a handmade gift like a little napkin holder. This is a fun and inexpensive way for kids to get crafty for an afternoon, and spread some cheer to a senior to knows someone is thinking about them.
7 – Lemonade Stand or Bake Sale – When the weather is nice set up a lemonade stand or a bake sale to raise money for a cause close to your heart. Talk to your kids about what causes they would like to support, because there is no wrong answer when it comes to giving. They can be in charge of making the goodies to sell, creating signs and helping to spread the word. This is also a great way to talk about money, counting and making change.
8 – Letter Writing – We all LOVE getting mail, however as an adult the only thing you seem to get is bills. Well let’s change that up and have your child let someone special know they are thinking of them. I picked up a book of stamps, and some envelops. Starting in the new year we are going to create 1 “package” each month to mail out. It could be to an Aunt who lives far away, or to their Grand-Grandma they don’t see as often as we would all like. Or even some drawings for our Canadian Troops serving over seas. I will provide the “tools” (stamps, envelops, paper etc) but this will be lead by the children as to where they would like to spread their love too all year long.
9 – Volunteer at an Animal shelter – if your child loves animals then working with a local animal shelter may be a great way to give back. Some Shelters run a “Juniors” program where kids learn how to care for the animals and help out with their care.
10 – Adopt a family – If your family is looking for an opportunity to directly impact a family in your community reach out to your local food bank to ask if they run an adopt a family program (I know you will be able to find one!). I have adopted a family every year since I was in University.
It started small, where we would help support a single mom and child, and grew with the support of friends and family to us being able to support a family of 4 or 5 to make sure they have a wonderful Christmas. The adopt-a-family is not just about the adults doing the shopping, even though my kids are still young we get them involved in shopping and wrapping.
Started saying out loud “We lead with kindness” because I sometimes feel that we can lose sight of the fact that even a little bit of kindness can go a long way. I am excited to help facilitate and empower the children to give back in many ways over the next year. Because sometimes the smallest things can have the biggest impact.
Disclosure: I have partnered with YMC and Cheerios and have received compensation for this post. All opinions in the post are my own.