I've been asked how to get children actively involved in giving back during the holidays. Despite the fact that they don't have the financial means to purchase items to donate, kids can definitely do more than just ride along in the car as you deliver your good deed. Here's an idea for something fun, easy and impactful to do with your children during the November holiday we Americans love; Thanksgiving:
Take the following list (and your kids) to the grocery store. You can talk about Thanksgiving, what kinds of things we eat and do on that day and discuss how many people don't have the means to buy the food for such a feast. Depending on their age, speak frankly with your children about how difficult this time of year is for many people. I'm always pleasantly surprised by children's natural compassion and desire to help when they hear of people in tough situations. When you get to the store, if your children are old enough, give THEM the list and a shopping cart and let them do the shopping. If not, you read the list and have your little ones select the items with you. (By the way, I found all these items at the Dollar Store but you might actually find them for even less than $1/each at Walmart. Wherever you decide to purchase them, keep it simple...don't make it a chore by traveling all around town. At the very most it should cost you no more than $30.) Have the kiddos put all the items in the aluminum pan or in a couple of paper grocery bags.
2 cans of green beans
1 can of sweet potatoes
2 cans of corn
1 can of cranberry sauce
1 box of stovetop stuffing
1 box of instant mashed potatoes
2 cans of gravy or 2 packets of gravy mix
1 aluminum oval turkey roasting pan
1 package of muffin or cornbread mix (just add water)
1 box of cake mix or brownie mix (or similar dessert)
1 jar of instant iced tea or jug of pre-made iced tea
1 $15.00 gift card to local grocery store for a turkey
NOW COMES THE FUN PART: Deliver the goods. There are lots of ways to do this. You can ask around for a family who might need a little help this season. Make a call to a church, your local food pantry, the schools in your area, the police/fire department. SOMEONE will know of SOMEONE who could really use a Thanksgiving meal. OR you could get really brave and drive around in your town and just pick a house! Yes, I am totally serious. You might decide to go to an impoverished area of your town, but remember thar there are many, MANY people who could use a friendly gesture from a kind stranger, despite what their living arrangements might suggest. We can't always tell from the outside of a house what's going on in someone's life.
Take your kids with you. Have them help decide who to bless. Don't be scared or worried in unfamiliar surroundings. You come bearing gifts, expecting nothing in return. Leave the bag with a kind note as a surprise on someone's doorstep or get really brave and knock on the door! Smile. Shake a hand. Hug. Wish someone a Happy Thanksgiving. Talk about it with your kids on the way home. And then again on Thanksgiving day. It will warm your heart to know you've giving someone the gift of being able to prepare a meal in their own home. Thankfulness all around.