For the most part, this series on giving has been a one (wo)man show. And I'm totally fine with that – it was my idea to participate. I like the idea of getting the kids involved, though, and find that to be an area where I struggle. How to get kids involved in helping others in age-appropriate ways?
This is where I give my friend Kelly a big round of applause. We've been in a playgroup together for 3 years, and 2 years ago she threw an idea out to the group. What if we collaborated on boxes for Operation Christmas Child together? A tradition was born, and each year just before Thanksgiving we pool our resources and put together at least one shoe box per family. These shoe boxes, filled with toys, personal hygiene kits and treats, then make their way to needy children around the world.
Today we put together 9 shoe boxes, and for the first time the kids were actually involved. Of course some of that involvement was simply them getting in the way, stepping on the wrapping paper and stealing the tape, but there were moments when they were actually helping, too. I know several of us involved our kids in shopping for items to go in the boxes, and talked to them about exactly what we were doing.
Because Kelly registered our boxes online, we have the ability to track our boxes and see exactly where they end up. Eli's a bit young to grasp that concept yet, but I'm looking forward to sharing this information with Elena.
If you're looking for a great way to brighten a child's Christmas this year and get your smaller children involved in the process, Operation Christmas Child is an excellent place to start. November 15-22 is National Collection Week, but you may donate shoe boxes or gifts-in-kind year round.
How do you get your children involved in giving, especially around the holidays?
Today I Gave: A shoe box filled with goodies to Operation Christmas Child. We all pitched in to fill the boxes, and the Six Family contribution included dinosaur-shaped crayons, jump ropes, and wooden bird whistles.
Today I Received: The gift that comes from hearing your children speak kindly to each other, without being ordered to do so by their mother. As we were dropping Elena off at school this morning, Eli told her that he loved her. As we pulled away, he looked out the window wistfully and said, "I miss Elena when she's gone." Trust me, this is so not like him. Like his mother, he's not overly affectionate (especially not in public) and he rarely doles out sweet words to anyone other than me. This bothers Elena tremendously, so this particular kindness sends her over the moon. It makes me pretty happy, too.