As we move towards Thanksgiving with our kids, wouldn’t it be great to show them ways to give from our excess? I’d like to do more than make lists of all the adorable things they’re thankful for. Sidenote: these should indeed be made and kept because they’ll be amazing to read and cry about in five or 50 years.
One way that my husband and I involve our kids in giving is by making and giving away bags to people in need.
As a family, we fill gallon Ziplocks with non-perishable food and toiletries and keep the bags in our cars until we cross paths with someone who could use them.
I made my first give away bags as a freshman in college. I spent the previous summer volunteering at an inner-city mission in the Dallas area. My experiences there made me realize—I had always been around people in need, I just wasn’t in the habit of seeing them.
It’s easy to avoid eye contact with strangers who are holding a sign and sitting next to a stoplight. Conversely, do you know what else is easy? Saving hotel toiletries, or grabbing some travel-sized items on your next Target trip. Setting aside some granola bars is easy. Handing a plastic bag out of a car window is also easy.
How can we involve kids in this?
Host a get-together for other mama friends and their littles. Let each family contribute some items and let the kids each fill a bag. Have a card coloring station and include some kid art. This personal touch gives the child a feeling of ownership of THAT bag.
Last winter, we were getting settled into our van outside Home Depot, and my husband walked a bag over to a gentleman. He was very appreciative and wanted to meet the child who assembled it and drew the rainbow picture. The recipient walked over with my husband, shook my son’s hand, and thanked him for his kindness.
My son was rather unphased by this encounter, but it was touching for me.
I want my kids to grow up in the reality that what they do impacts others. Right now they are little, but they can help.
When there is an outlet to make a difference, creative thoughts abound on how to help others and make the world better for someone. This winter we are including homemade fleece scarves in our bags, thanks to my kids’ ingenuity and cold necks.
Who knows? There may be a world-changer buckled up in that car seat in the back; one who will grow up and do amazing things for those in need.
And if the next Mother Teresa isn’t in the backseat? The example we set can lead our kids to be grown-ups who are in the habit of seeing people in need. It’s a win, either way.
Here is a printable of ideas you can include in your own bags.