9 Ways to Give as a Family in Charlotte This Season
Share your volunteer experiences with your children and make sure you show them not only the impact it has on others, but also the joy it brings.
Photo courtesy of Charlotte Country Day School
Harvard recently did a study — the Making Caring Common Project — and they found that most teens value academic achievement and individual happiness over caring for others. The reason? They reported that that's what the adults in their lives consistently said mattered. Prioritizing caring in your own life and in the life of your family is the single biggest determinant in nurturing kindness, philanthropy and selflessness in our children.
Actions You Can Take
1. Show the joy you give and get by giving
There are so many ways that you can show care and compassion. Whether it’s phoning a friend who is down, collecting toys for kids in the hospital or volunteering for a local nonprofit. Share your experiences with your children, and make sure you show them not only the impact it has on others, but also the joy it brings.
- Looking for a nonprofit where you can volunteer as a family? Start your search at Hands on Charlotte, an online database that lists volunteer opportunities. Filter the results based on your family’s interests.
- Little Helpers is a family volunteer group holds monthly service projects for children of all ages.
- Through Habitat for Humanity’s youth programs, you can create a paper house advocacy campaign, build a model Habitat house, make a partner family scrapbook and even develop a community garden.
- If you’ve got a family of pet-lovers consider helping out at Humane Society of Charlotte. You can hold a fundraiser or host a shelter drive to provide items from the nonprofit’s wish list to help animals in need.
2. Make giving a family routine
Look for ways that you can concretely make giving a routine in your household. Here are a few clever ones I’ve heard:
- Keep a donation bin by your backdoor and encourage family members to donate gently-used toys, games or books. Each time the box is filled, deliver it as a family.
- If your child has a favorite recipe (cookies, brownies, rice krispie treats, chili, etc.), double the recipe each time you make it. Share half with your family and make a family trip to a local shelter, police station, fire station, hospital, etc. to deliver the other half.
3. Acknowledge charitableness/empathy
Make sure you celebrate your child when s/he acts in a kind-hearted way, no matter how big/small. For extra impact, make sure they overhear you describing these caring qualities to others If your kids think you see them as kind and giving, they’ll be more likely to act that way.
4. Use the News
The news can feel overwhelmingly negative, but it’s also an opportunity to inspire giving. Keep your ears and eyes open for local or international stories that might inspire your child to want to give of his/her time, talents, or treasure.
5. Start a Giving Plan
Talk to your child about who you choose to give to and why. A first step might simply be to help your child create a “save,” “spend” and “give” bucket for their allowance and help them assign a percentage that will be allocated to each bucket.
6. Help your child find his/her passion
Growing up, my parents were both into environmental justice issues, but they certainly let each of us discover our own passions for service and philanthropy. As a child, I had a friendship with Rasha Abu El Ez, a girl my age in Lebanon who I met through Save the Children correspondences, and, to this day, I still have the letters we wrote back and forth. Kids are more likely to want to get involved in service projects if those projects match their interests. Help your child find their “in” to service work: sports, reading, nature, music, sewing, animals, pets, etc.
7. Make giving a family or friend affair
As I found out with running, doing things in groups gives accountability and a spirit of fun/camaraderie. Take this same lesson and apply it to service. Do it as a whole family OR help your child organize his/her friendship group. Whether it’s volunteering regularly at the soup kitchen or hosting monthly bake sales, when you serve others together, you're more likely to consistently follow through.
8. Recap the impact
Research shows that children are more likely to continue to give if the impact of their actions is pointed out to them. After you do volunteering, take some time to reflect with your child. What was the impact of their service on others? How did it make others feel? What was the impact on you/your child? How do you and your child feel?
9. Make it year round
The beauty of service and empathy is that it allows us to experience the goodness of humanity. Make it a daily ritual and your child will be a happier, more grateful, kinder person EVERY day of the year, not just during the holidays.
About the school: Located in South Charlotte, Charlotte Country Day School has a 75-year history in the area and serves grades from junior kindergarten through 12th grade. It is also the only independent school in the region to have a separate campus for Middle School students. From vocal and instrumental music to single-gender math classes, the curriculum is designed to support students during these transitional years.