Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Acts of Charity... for Toddlers

Texas Mommy just posted this in a comment, and it's something I've been thinking about lately as well, so I'm taking the liberty to initiate a full post on the topic... what do you do to get very young children involved in acts of charity in the community?

We don't have much extra stuff right now because of our limited living space, so we don't donate much. This is horrible, but I was deterred from nursing home visits by constant inquiries from a former pediatrician about whether my baby had been in contact with elderly in nursing homes, because apparently tuberculosis is widespread in nursing homes? Is this a serious problem? And anything that requires my children to focus and do something like sort cans seems to require more effort than it's worth. So while "acts of charity" is on our list as one of several morning activity options, our most frequent acts of charity are offering to watch a friend's children or cooking/baking for someone who needs help or cheer. This counts, and 3-year-old Bella definitely understands the value of it, and maybe it's all a mom can really hope to accomplish with young kids... but if anyone has other suggestions, please fire away!


texas mommy said...

Since we've recently moved I'm not very plugged in with our new parish yet, but there are usually new baby or funeral ministeries that ask for meals when families need them. Cooking/baking while reminding Dash who we are making food for and why has been our main work of charity. Taking him with me to drop off the food and letting him carry as much as he can (he always tells me how heavy it is!) seems to resonate.

Mr. Incredible had the habit of doing a mini examination of conscience with Dash at bedtime...just asking him what he did well or good today and what he could work on doing better. He came down from putting Dash to bed when he was just over 2 and was totally perplexed as to why Dash kept saying that batteries were good.

Earlier that day we had taken some batteries to church from Costco for a drive they were doing. He carried/drug the pack from the car, refusing help and telling me that someone needed them. It was the sweetest thing and so wonderful that he had remembered it!

Kids pick up on the smallest things. Instead of fuming that someone else just pulled into a great parking space, telling you kids that we'll walk a little farther because someone else needed that space more than we did can even be beneficial.

Anonymous said...

adopt a missionary family...
have your kids become "pen pals" with a missionary family that has children of the same age. It's educational for your child and counts as "charity" because all missionaries, even the little tykes need encouragement and extra prayer

Right Said Red said...

I usually have the kids help with picking out things to give away to Goodwill. I explain how the stuff goes to other kids that don't have as much stuff as we do. The are usually pretty good with picking things out to "give away."

I think this is an area that gets a bit easier as the kids get older.

lisa said...

this may be controversial, but a family we loved in boston encouraged their kids to know the names of the homeless people they passed daily on their way to different places, and to say hello and address them by name. their kids would pray for them as well.

obviously not everyone lives in an environment where this is possible, but for kids and adults, acknowledging the humanity of the least of these is an incredible act of charity. occasionally this family would take it another step by making PB&Js in the morning to hand out to these individuals as well.

Right Said Red said...


What a great idea! Thanks for sharing.

AWOL Mommy said...

My family financially supports and corresponds with several children and an elderly lady in third world countries through The Christian Foundation for Children and Aging. I plan on tapping into my 3-year-old's love of receiving mail to involve her in sending both checks and letters to our adopted family. This also alleviates Juris Mater's tb issues with the nursing home visits, albeit this long distance approach may be a little hard to explain/ make work with younger children. Anyhow, I feel comfortable with this organization because 1) it is soundly Catholic, 2) we learned about it from a speaker who spoke during the homily at Mass and 3) I have looked into their overhead costs and even volunteer opportunities - nearly 100% of one's financial support makes it directly to the sponsored individuals. The organization is really good at getting letters back to us as well, so the kids get the feedback.

Mary Alice said...

Around St. Pats, I loved Texas Mommy's idea of making cards for elderly relatives, and I would quote my mom who often says "charity begins at home." She means not just that you have to teach your kids to be charitable but also that you must practice charity within your immediate circle even before you look outside. During this winter I found that I was often dull and lonely in the dark afternoons, what about using that time to place a "hello" call to someone else who might be lonely, especially older relatives.

PT, who is 6, began last summer collecting soda cans at family parties, etc. He returns the cans for the 5 cent deposit and saves the money in a seperate piggy bank for charity. For him, it began with an appeal from our pastor to sponsor school children in his home town in India. For Peter, a kindergartener, this really felt personal. Since then, he as also contributed to a school in Africa, and now he is saving for a home for pregnant women. These were each of his own choosing.

We don't drink a lot of soda, but I asked around at homeschool events, we sometimes ask neighbors, etc, as most people just mix these cans in with recycling day rather than going for the deposit.

I like the dual charity of this project as we also encourage recycling!