Holiday Traditions: Giving Back as a Family

With the holidays approaching it’s the time of year when families are sharing traditions together or possibly starting new ones.

Now that my children are getting older and understanding more about the world around them I am ready to start new traditions with them and feel comfortable talking to them more about Christmas, why people celebrate it and what it means to me. Up until now this holiday for my kids has been about Santa, getting presents and being with family. I’m perfectly fine with continuing this way but I would like to add a little more meaning to this holiday for them.

I’ve decided this year to teach my kids more about the spirit of giving and thought trying the reverse Advent calendar is a good way to do so. I came across this idea a couple of months ago via www.muminthemadhouse.com.

The reverse Advent calendar is where you take a box and add a non-perishable item into it every day until Christmas Eve and then deliver it to your local food bank. I am starting this today with them so that at the end there will be 24 items in the box. Since Christmas Eve will be a very busy day for us we will most likely deliver our box to our local food bank before December 24th to help get these things to families in time for the holidays (but we will still make sure to have at least 24 items in the box!)

In preparation for doing this project together as a family, I have been speaking with my kids about giving to others less fortunate than us. I have explained to them how important it is to show kindness and compassion to others, even if we don’t know them. When I told them about collecting the donations for the food bank I explained to my kids that we are lucky enough to be able to provide these items for our family and that we have enough to be able to share with others. They may not fully grasp now why there are people who do not have enough to eat and why they rely on food banks, so my hope is that as we continue this tradition every year they will learn and understand the significance of our donation.

The other reason why I like the idea of doing this reverse Advent calendar with my kids is it has opened the conversation about not just helping others during the holidays but all year round. I have taken this opportunity to give examples of how we can help those in need whenever we can. Most recently it was through a donation of clothes and toys to a family hit by a tragic fire in their home. I had a good conversation with my five-year-old son when I was collecting and boxing those items about how when Mommy heard about the opportunity to help the family I wanted to take a chance to make a difference in whatever small way I could. I explained to him that sometimes even the small kind gestures we make to others can make a big impact.

We are choosing to do this reverse Advent calendar this year with donations that will go to our local food bank but I think this could also be done collecting donations for a clothing or toy drive. If you want to try any of these ideas you can easily look up where you can go locally to make your donation. Here are a few links I found helpful:

For Food Bank Donations in Canada: https://www.foodbankscanada.ca/About-Us/Organization/Our-Members.aspx

For Food Bank Donations in the U.S.A.: http://www.feedingamerica.org/

For Clothing Donations in Canada: I found a few places that will take clothing donations but I am sharing the link for the Canadian Diabetes Association as my family has used it in the past.

http://www.diabetes.ca/how-you-can-help/clothesline/find-a-clothesline-drop-box

My search for where to donate toys brought up more local results than national so I would suggest looking up organizations or charities in your area that do toy drives. One suggestion I would make is your local children’s hospital.

You can easily find online local community organizations or charities that collect non-perishable items, personal hygiene items, clothing and toys. When I did the search specifically for my community I found our local food bank, a local shelter for abused women and children, local clothing drop off locations amongst others.

Whatever you choose there are many worthy charities out there that appreciate the help, and so will the recipients of your donations!

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