The two holiday feelings I remember the most from my childhood are excitement and warmth. The excitement came from holiday lights, music and big family gatherings. The warmth came from my family’s traditions, like cooking meals together, snuggling up to read our favorite holiday books and our customs around helping others. Giving back and putting others needs before our own are actions my family valued when I was growing up and it’s something I practice myself and talked about with my nieces and nephews throughout their childhood.
Giving to others can be difficult during the holidays when budgets are tight. But you don’t have to make a large donation to make a difference or help a child gain the warm feeling from giving back to their community. For children, giving isn’t about a specific dollar amount, it’s about building generous habits by experiencing the joy that comes from giving.
Here are three easy and meaningful ways you can help your children celebrate the power of giving together this holiday season.
Teach Them the Importance of Monetary Donations
As the President and CEO of Ronald McDonald House Charities® (RMHC), my nieces and nephews are very familiar with the organization and the ways we help families with children coping with illness stay together. I am proud of our mission to provide care, support and resources to families when they need it most.
Every year, I invite my friends and family over around the holidays to decorate my tree. For so many years, every guest insisted on bringing me a present. For the past 14 years, I decided to ask them to bring a donation of their choosing instead of a present, which I proudly give to RMHC. This tradition brings joy to every guest, including the children.
Donations don’t have to be in large amounts, either—and it’s an important concept to teach to children, too. Just like donating toys, donating small amounts of money is something even a young child can easily participate in. While a child may not understand the stress of dealing with a critical illness, the fact that the money is going towards something tangible, like a coloring book for another child who is sick, makes it relatable for them.
Set Up an Online Fundraiser
Peer-to-peer fundraising is a unique way for families to raise money for a charity at any time of the year! Create a personal challenge, such as running or walking a 5K, as a way to raise money. Maybe instead of hosting a birthday party, start a fundraiser and ask friends to donate to your favorite cause.
Share your fundraiser everywhere. Use email, social media to spread the word. Ask friends and family to do the same! Visit the website, www.rmhc.org/raiselove to learn more about how to start a fundraiser of your own!
Volunteer Your Time All Year Long, Not Just at the Holidays
Many families have a tradition of volunteering together during the holidays. Volunteering time is certainly a great way to actively help others and can be a meaningful bonding and learning experience for the entire family. However, many non-profits report being overwhelmed with well-meaning volunteers during the holidays but often scramble to find volunteers in slower months like January and February.
Why not start a new family tradition? Spend time over the holidays researching and discussing where to contribute your time, but wait until January or February to give back. That way you can extend the holiday season with cheer and give help when it’s in demand.