10 Holiday Projects to Cultivate GenerosityLisa Rupertus
Children tend to be selfish. Even as toddlers, they quickly learn the power of the word mine and wield it often. As parents, it is our job to cultivate generosity by giving them opportunities to give their belongings and their time. We get the chances every day as a homeschool family. For example, when big brother gives up his free time to read a book to his younger sister, he is expressing generosity with his time and talents.
The holiday season is a great time to deliberately teach generosity. By planning special activities, you can help your kids to look outside their own needs and consider those of family and community.
1. Donate Things You No Longer Need
The end of a calendar year is a great time to look through closets and toyboxes for things that are not being used. Make sure that your children don’t choose broken or worn out things. (Those can be simply discarded instead of donated.) Help the children select still useful objects, things they themselves would like to receive.
2. Collect For Charity
One year we collected canned goods to donate to a local food bank. Another year we collected old towels for a local animal shelter. Give a call to a local charity that is meaningful to you to discover what they are most in need of. Then rally your friends and family to help. Be sure to take the kids along to the organization to drop off what you collected where they can see where their gifts end up.
3. Visit A Nursing Home
We do this monthly with homeschooling friends. The children sing a few songs then visit with the residents. Each time we go, the residents tell us how much this time means to them. It’s simple, costs us nothing but our time, and enriches the lives of many lonely people.
4. Send Notes To Your Pastor
Send a card to your pastor, telling him how much you appreciate his service and sacrifice. This gesture doesn’t cost much, but it is a great way to teach kids to be thankful for the hard work of the pastor. Plus you can have an impromptu lesson about the parts of a friendly letter, the correct way to address an envelope, and how to compose a note of appreciation.
5. Make a Goodie Basket for Neighbors
For people without family nearby, the holidays can be hard and lonely. Even the smallest gestures show you care and establish goodwill in your neighborhood. Assembling a fruit basket or a plate of homemade cookies is a great way to share love and teach kids to think of others.
6. Shovel Snow or Rake Leaves
Older teens can easily bless a local family by helping with these chores. The elderly or someone who has cancer might not have the stamina to do this manual labor. They might be on a fixed income and can’t afford to pay, so it would really be a blessing. It also teaches our teens to give up their free time to do something nice for others.
7. Adopt A Missionary Family
Consider adopting a missionary family to support for the year. Send cards, money, care packages, and prayers. These families give often need encouragement and support, living so far from their families, often in hostile environments.
8. Help a Family With Christmas
Instead of adding more to the pile of things that will be lost or broken by Christmas night, consider enlisting your children in shopping for an under-resourced family in your area. Contact your local churches for suggestions. Cover their Christmas dinner with all the trimmings plus personalized gifts for everyone in the family — adults and children alike.
9. Commit To Praying
Sometimes money is tight and you can’t give monetarily. However you can give with your time by praying for someone special. Let the person know you prayed by placing a short call or sending a brief note.
Or devote an entire month to prayer for a specific person, family, or even ministry. Print out a blank calendar grid, and jot down specific prayers each day for the month. Then mail that calendar to the person you prayed for at the completion of the month. Imagine how blessed the recipient will feel! You may even hear stories of how God answered that specific prayer on that particular day!
10. Volunteer Your Time
As the hustle and bustle of the season comes to a full boil, there are many opportunities to help frenzied friends with their burdens. Offer to help watch children, clean the church, or run an errand for people who are really trying hard to get everything done. Maybe offer to wrap Christmas presents. That task always takes me far too long; I would love the help!
This holiday season, sit down with your children and this list of ideas. Let them select the ones that appeal to them and encourage them to suggest original ideas. Then —and this is the most important part —get out a calendar and make a plan for each one. Instead of associating the holidays with overeating, outrageous spending, and mountains of presents, your children will cultivate a spirit of generosity.