It’s Parents’ Week at the918! Join us every morning for a helpful article for parents. From moving and serving to parenting, this week is for you. And be sure to check out “the918org” on Facebook to give someone a chance at a Quik Trip gift card!
by Kara Moseby
From an early age, we wanted our children to have an awareness of needs around them, compassion, and generosity to give of themselves. However, it is hard to know how to do that when our child is only five years old! It is also hard to balance serving with the constant busyness of school, sports, church, and family activities. Even without children, it can be hard to find the time.
Here are five creative ideas to help your child get involved in the community around them:
- Have a Yard Sale with a Purpose: We’re all in need of a round of “cleaning out of the closets.” Plan a yard sale with all proceeds going to a non-profit. Get your kids involved by setting up a lemonade and cookie stand! Suggestion: Decide as a family where the proceeds will go.
- Experience Poverty and Hunger: We will never know what it feels like to be truly hungry unless we unfortunately find ourselves in that position. However, we can learn empathy through experience. Challenge your family to live on a “food stamps” budget for one week. Get your kids involved in planning the meals to help understand the weight of experience. If you have older children, ask them to research poverty in Oklahoma to share at dinner one night. Suggestion: Think about this activity when your kids have started asking questions about poverty or homelessness.
- Neighborhood Food Drive & Tour: Make a flyer about your food drive, with suggested items and information about your drive. Staple the flyer to a grocery bag and give to your neighbors. Designate a pick up day and invite your neighborhood to participate. This is great during the holiday season when food pantries are in need of a little extra food. Suggestion: Call the food pantry and ask for a list of food items most needed.
- Host a Packing Party: Many organizations in town like to have emergency packs available to give to their guests as needed. The key is to call before planning! Don’t assume what needs to go in the pack. Call, get a list of items, ask for suggestions from the organization, plan a party, gather supplies, and PACK! Suggestion: Call ahead to the designated organization to insure you are collecting the correct items.
- Give Your Birthday! Kids love their birthdays. They love pulling their friends together, celebrating, and don’t forget the presents. This year, ask and encourage your child to think about giving their birthday. Send out invites, plan a party, but ask your friends to bring gifts for a local organization instead! Diapers for Emergency Infant Services, socks for John 3:16 Mission, khaki pants for an after school program. Suggestion: Make sure your child is excited about the plan! You never want this activity to be a punishment.
I know what you are thinking: “But I want them to SEE!” I agree.
Personal experience helps with learning and processing.
However, it can be hard for organizations to provide volunteer opportunities for little ones (until youth age usually). The good news is most organizations are pleased to share about their ministry through a tour.
The most important thing to do is to cultivate a giving heart in your child.
When they see the homeless on the street and ask questions, don’t tell them not to stare (instead smile and give a polite wave). Sometimes we hinder their generous spirit because we are uncomfortable with hurting people and are not sure what to do. Here’s the thing: None of us know exactly what to do in all situations and we don’t have all the answers. It’s okay not to know the answers to our kids’ questions, but we can seek out the answers together. Seek, find, encourage, and nurture the generous heart of your child…even if they can’t volunteer on site for an organization.
Changing the world requires volunteers. Kara is the Lead Volunteer Coordinator at John 3:16 Mission. Loves travel, adoption, & being on mission where God has planted her. She is currently waiting for a magical phone call that says her son can come home from Ethiopia!