Teaching Children About Hunger and Giving: Snapshots of Parenting with Purpose

Elementary school students made these cards for individuals living at nursing homes. We have also made cards for Veterans.
Even though Halloween is still about two weeks away, if you have been to basically any store lately, you know the holiday season is already in full swing. I have started seeing Facebook posts about Christmas gift ideas for the kiddos and Pinterest filling up with holiday recipes and decor.

The season can get pretty busy pretty fast and we, especially parents, can get caught up in the holiday photos, school parties, outings (the haunted house, the pumpkin patch, the hayride and the corresponding photo ops) -- not to mention having the perfect gifts under the tree and decorations around the house. Sometimes all of the activity can lead us to miss out on one of the most joyous aspects of the season, which is the spirit of giving, not presents-under-the-tree/stockings-stuffed-to-the-hilt giving, but the true spirit of giving, in which we stop and give of ourselves -- time, not just items -- to those that truly are in need.

In most communities, the holiday season means there are more people in need. Cooler (I live in Southern California) or flat out cold (in most other places) temperatures mean heating costs are at their peek and homeless shelters are packed. Organizations serving those in need are stretched to capacity. For far too many (16 million children in the United States) having any meal on Thanksgiving or Christmas is an uncertainty, much less having a bountiful meal that leaves you in a food coma as we always called it at my house -- the same goes for having presents under the tree (if there is a tree).

I do not mean to paint a dismal/grim picture and get everyone depressed. Rather, I want to encourage you to embrace -- as a family -- the true spirit of giving, and the joy that comes from stepping outside of oneself to serve others. Slow down and enjoy this season with your loved ones, and consider taking a little time together to see who in your community needs a helping hand, a smile, a warm blanket, a bag of food.

Last month, I joined with bloggers and individuals around the world to do something to help end hunger during Hunger Action Month through an effort we collectively decided to call Moms Fighting Hunger.

What we all discovered was that not only was this work important, but it was also, at times, fun, and always, rewarding. We learned that our families enjoyed and valued the activities we did to serve others. This is what the season is truly all about: being together, giving of ourselves, and spreading joy.

Not sure where to start? For ideas, such as breakfast bags for homeless shelters, hosting a hunger hero playdate/party, feeding through reading campaigns, food pantry scavenger hunts and more, check out this Blog Hop post of activities from Hunger Action Month. You can also find all of our posts and activities (and more) on my Be the Change pinboard and can learn about hunger through the Moms Fighting Hunger Facebook Community, where we would love for you to share what you are doing. Here are some other helpful posts:
Perhaps this is already part of your Holiday season. If not, I hope we have inspired you to start something new as a family.

Jennifer is a mom of two, as well as an independent filmmaker who has taught filmmaking to youth and has run after-school programs through her company Generation Arts. She writes about her experiences with Wild Thing and Caterpillar at The Good Long Road with an emphasis on mindfulness, imagination, and creative activities related to her toddler’s favorite children’s books.

Kim's "Spin On It"
We are so very excited to have Jennifer, author of the The Good Long Road,  sharing with us on our Snapshots of Parenting with Purpose. We were so impressed with how she helped to organize Mom Fighting Hunger in September. Here's a post of a recent project that Jennifer and her family recently volunteered at.  We recently shared our own experience of students dealing with hunger issues in the classrooms.  The idea of creating a card for a program is one of the easiet ways to encourage children to think of others.    The simpliest things can make the difference someone's life more than you can imagine. Even a simple thank you to community members around you is a great start.   We hope you're able to get involved in some of the local programs withint your community or child's school.  For more ideas you can visit our Community Outreach Board.  We would love to hear how you are reaching out to your community this holiday season AND throughout the year.

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tricia said...

This is a fantastic reminder for us to not get wrapped up in what material things we want to waste our money on this season without at least thinking of who could be helped,not just wiith money, but with volunteerism or just a simple act of niceness. Thanks for the reminder!

Cassie @ 3Dinosaurs.com said...

I love the ideas that are about giving and not just getting.

JDaniel4's Mom said...

What wonderful ways to teach and show children how to give!

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