About 10 years ago, my husband and I first visited Wolf Hollow in coastal Massachusetts, a sanctuary for endangered gray wolves. We were headed to the area earlier this month so we asked our son, Graham, if he wanted to visit.
He agreed and started his research on Wolf Hollow’s website weeks before the trip. There he saw he could adopt a wolf.
It was perfect timing. We were helping Graham look for an organization to donate to from his “give” jar (he also has “spend and “save” jars). He picked out a wolf and on our recent visit he met Linnea. Graham feels great about his contribution and my husband and I are thrilled with our son’s empathy.
That got me thinking, as I pluck the many catalogs out of our mailbox this time of year, how else can we teach children that it is better to give than to receive?
Wolves may not be your thing, but there are plenty of other ways to instill this valuable lesson. Here are a few:
Visit a Hospital: Not all children are living the good life. Those in hospitals, especially, are struggling through the holidays. Pack up stuffed animals in great condition and visit some of these kids. Remember to call the hospital first to arrange.
Throw a Party: Everyone loves a good time. Invite friends and family to a Toys for Tots potluck and ask everyone to bring an unopened toy. Gifts can be dropped off at a local chapter of this U.S. Marines-run program.
Lend a Hand: From soup kitchens and shelters to visiting a convalescent home, volunteering your time is a great way to spread holiday cheer.
Break the Piggy Bank: Pick a non-profit and have your children donate from their own pockets. Take the giving a step further and help them raise extra cash for the cause by doing chores or mowing a neighbor’s lawn.
Surprise a Family: We’ve all been down on our luck at some point in our lives. Identify a family or individual who could use a break and put together a holiday gift basket for them.
Pamper a Pup: If you can’t adopt them, you can still spoil them. You can get inexpensive dog food and toys from the dollar store then drop them off at your local animal shelter.
Think of Others: Whether it’s a smile, good morning salutation or some other small gesture, teach your children to think of others and make everyone’s day a little brighter.