What do you think of when you think of the word charity? To me it brings to mind little boxes where I put my small change. But what if charity meant more than that? What if your children grew up with a broader concept of charity, one that means helping others when they need help? Modeling helping behavior is one activity that I want to do with my child.
I want my child to grow up understanding that people help other people, and not just those in your immediate family. I want her to understand that it is just fine to help people you don’t know or only know a little. I want her to understand the feeling of being grateful for what you have and the feeling of sharing that with others.
Helping is not difficult. For one, there are many people in need. People in need don’t need to be those who need our financial assistance, either. Since we’ve moved away from tight-knit societies in which people live close to their parents and long-time friends, people need all sorts of support, especially when they are going through life transitions.
Helping does not need to be big. You don’t need to organize a charity ball, although you can if you want to. Many helpful actions don’t require vast amounts of time but make a big difference.
Organize a collection to provide a useful gift to a person who is expecting a new baby. We did this recently, and collected money to support the purchase of cloth diapers. I remember how much I would have loved help with that purchase when we made it ourselves. Those diapers can be expensive!
Provide pre-made meals food to someone who needs it. I’ve done this for many years. Whether it’s a family who has had a loss or a family with a new baby, pre-made meals are an excellent way to sustain and connect to someone in need.
The web site Lotsa Helping Hands helps you or someone else create a task list so that members of your community can help someone with tasks, whether it’s driving to appointments, child care, or meals. It even sends out reminders so that you remember to do the task – always the challenge with small children.
One caveat before you go crazy organizing support. Be a polite helper. Ask first, or ask a good friend of the person to ask what help the family would like, if any, and to get information like food requirements. Use one person as the go-between to connect the family to the community. That way, the family does not feel overwhelmed by people asking what they can do. This makes the process easier on the families giving and receiving the help.
Image Credit: Nosheep