Gwen Leron: 50 Shades of Green


How I Teach My Kids About Giving Back

It Doesn't Have To Be Complicated

When I was growing up, my grandmother was a very strong influence in my life. One of the things that I will always remember about her is how she was so compassionate about those who were less fortunate and how she always gave to them in whatever way she could. This is a lesson I have happily brought into my adulthood and I am, in a way, instilling a little bit of my grandmother’s values into my children.

Raising my children to be empathetic towards others and teaching them that because they have doesn’t mean everyone else does is very important to me. They are still very young, so I teach them about why and how we should give with very age appropriate actions. As they grow older, I look forward to exploring other ways, but for now, we do simple things they can understand. If you are looking for easy things you can do introduce your child to giving back, hopefully you can find some inspiration here:

  • We donate to our food bank year round, not only during the holiday season. From time to time, when we go grocery shopping, I let the kids pick out a few things to drop in the donation bin on the way out. It’s something they look forward to and even though I have to sometimes guide them towards healthier choices (canned Dora and princess soups is sometimes their top pick!), in the end, they take pride in the fact that they picked something out that will end up on the table of a child somewhere in our city who has less.
  • In Ottawa, we have an annual holiday toy drive called Toy Mountain. We pick a day in December to go to the store and they each get to pick out a toy for a child who is less fortunate. When they bring the toy and slide it down the chute into the toy mountain, the happiness on their faces is priceless.
  • We sponsor a World Vision child. Knowing that we are helping a child on the other side of the earth is such an amazing fact to them.
  • 3 years ago, my friend Rebecca and I founded a charity event called Shopping & Sweets (it’s taking place this Saturday, December 1st in Ottawa, please come check it out!). It's an event that brings together small businesses, holiday shopping, and talented bakers for one reason: to give back to two local charities who need our help the most at this time of year. It's a win-win for everyone involved. My children refer to Shopping & Sweets as “cupcake day.” Mainly because there are bakers at the event selling cupcakes and I bring some home for them at the end of the day. But besides the cupcakes, they understand why Shopping & Sweets exists and why it is important to me.
  • Throughout the year, I go through their clothes and set aside the gently used pieces they have grown out of. We go together to drop them off for those who can give them new life.
  • This one is the most difficult for them. The toys. Oh my goodness, the toys. These children grow so attached to their toys, even the toys that have not been played with for months. The second the idea to donate the forgotten toys comes up, it’s not pretty. But we have recently introduced a new rule: if you get a new toy, an old toy goes in the donation bag. It has been going great.

By doing these simple things with them now, my hope is that being compassionate becomes a way of life for them and that they continue to do good for others throughout their lives.

What types of activities do you do with your children to teach them the importance of giving back?