A man shoveling his neighbor's snow
Posted on 12/04/2013

Givers and Takers

Birthing/ Family/ Parent Life

‘Tis the season of giving and taking — when we try to remind our kids of the importance of giving before taking, and caring about others instead of thinking they’re just someone in the way.

Need some ideas of how to do this? Here’s a basic list of ways your family can help others. Teaching kindness and ways to be helpful doesn’t always mean trash pickup at the local beach (though, that’s on this list!), it can be as simple as being around for a friend. Look through the examples below and see which ones might fit your situation. These are all things you can include your family in one way or another (have them help you clean, draw pictures, make a meal, and so on).

Arlington County via Flickr (Neighbors helping one another after snow storm.)

Find a stranger, make a friend: Visit often and read together, or send letters, pictures, holiday cards, and artwork. Getting mail or visits lets someone know they’re still important, still thought about. This can be done for the elderly, a vet, a soldier away from home, a child in the hospital, and so on. I once worked as a nursing assistant for elderly nuns and my favorite part was sitting with these women as they talked with me. Some didn’t want me to go do my work because they enjoyed the company so much and wanted to know my stories as much as I loved to hear theirs.

Tune In Online: There are a ton of mommy groups online, and nearly every day there’s someone posting about a friend who’s in dire need of support or donations, or a new mom who needs help adjusting to her new reality. Go to these families and rake leaves, bring dinner, babysit the kids for a bit (teens can help with this). Look through your child’s outgrown clothes and give what you can. Invite them over for a meal or party.

Teach and Mentor: If your kids are old enough, have them tutor a younger child in a subject area they need help with for free. This will give your child confidence (aw well as a future job as a tutor) and a new friend while giving another person a very valuable gift.

Clean House: I know, you don’t want to clean your house, so why would you clean someone else’s, right? Well, because they don’t want to do it either and they really, really need your keen eye for things. Swoop in like Super Woman and save the day at a neighbor or best friend, or family member’s home near you. Other deeds could be to wash a car, make a meal, babysit …

Family Chain: Sign the whole family up for a day of community service at your local beach, park, or lake. The Earth and animals thank you.

Smart Trash: Before you throw it in the garbage, be smart about it and think about the landfill, wildlife, etc. If a bird or sea creature could potentially get trapped in your trash, cut it up to avoid sentencing them to life in six-pack rings, like this poor turtle. Recycle what you can, then compost, then trash. Teach your kids about the effects of the things we buy at the store, and how choosing an item with less packaging and biproducts that can be recycled or upcylced is helpful to everyone (an everything).

Adopt: Whether it’s for the holidays or more long-term, becoming the foster family to an animal on the mend until it finds a home, or adopting another family in need goes a long way.

Pay It Forward: See someone having a bad day? Buy their lunch, pay their parking fee, or lend an ear. See a frazzled new mom? Offer help, or a spare diaper. Open the door for someone, let them go first.

For more ideas, check out 14 Ways Your Family Can Give Back (Content I created for POPSUGAR Moms last year.)

Savvy Every Day is going to start featuring charities, events, and organizations related to kids and families on a regular basis. These are organizations that, as parents, we should want to be a part of. If you have a charity or organization that Savvy Every Day should know about, send over some info!

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