Gimme More: Teach the value of giving to children | SierraSun.com

Gimme More: Teach the value of giving to children

Mama Mia!, KidZone Museum

Seth Lightcap/Sierra SunThe annual Toys For Tots donation drive kicked off Wednesday at the Coldwell Banker office in Tahoe City. Agents from the real estate group showed off a few of the many toys they collected that evening.

jMama Mia! The holiday season is in full swing and I can’t seem to keep that awful sensation of greed from consuming me. It’s the “I want, I want” culture of today that gives me the bahumbugs. I dread this time of year because I feel my children know very little of the spirit of giving. How can I change that?

Every parent wants a generous little darling who sincerely wants to give rather than receive; but let’s face it ” kids love presents! We can hardly blame them for being a bit openhanded when surrounded by festive decorations, dazzling store displays and twinkling lights. Who doesn’t want an elegant package dressed in sparkly colored paper with fancy ribbons and bows?

How do we stop this “gimme” snowball from gaining ground? Newborns are clueless to the gift-giving thing, so now is the best time to wrap up what they need and send the rest to a bank account in their name. Set up an account when the kiddos are born and continue to contribute at every holiday throughout the year. They will thank you when they get those thousands at age 18 or 21 (you decide as the custodian of the account). Truckee’s Edward Jones can help you set up a college-only fund or savings account that typically offers a higher interest rate than most banks.

For toddlers the holidays become much more enchanting. Don’t make them feel guilty about wanting stuff. Cheerful giving has a greater impact. Try to continue growing their accounts while starting a tradition of giving them only a few fun items. If you limit their loot from the onset they are less likely to greet each holiday with “where’s the rest.”

Also, get crafty to involve them in gift-giving activities via homespun cards or ornaments. This is a great way to slow things down at this busy time and have fun with your kids. If you aren’t terribly creative yourself, check out http://www.kwikcrafts.com for easy-to-do kits you can purchase for a few bucks. Or break out the glitter glue and go to http://www.education.com for really neat ideas for all ages and skill levels.

As kids get older you can foster philanthropy with donations to favorite charities or local community organizations. Try to discern what some of your child’s favorite things may be and ask how you can give to that. Capitalize on your daughter’s affection for baby chicks by donating a flock to a family in need through Heifer International at http://www.heifer.org. Try charitynavigator.org where you’ll find financial evaluations of myriad organizations from environmental groups to health and safety if you need peace of mind or help with ideas.

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In today’s economic climate, your family may not have the funds to share with endangered species, but that doesn’t mean you have to curb your generosity. Perhaps your child can give back to his own place in the world with an act of volunteerism. Does your son enjoy walks around the neighborhood? Spend an hour picking up trash in the area.

Whatever you do, make it your child’s choice. Have fun with a new tradition and you and yours will all be relishing in the generosity and joy of this and every holiday season.

” If you have a parenting puzzler for Mama Mia at the KidZone Museum in Truckee e-mail info@kidzonemuseum.org or call 587-KIDS.

There are many ways to foster the spirit of charity in your little ones. From creating home-crafted gifts, to donating your time, it is the season of giving. For information or to volunteer for Truckee’s Community Christmas, whose programs include food, warm coat and toy distribution call the Truckee Donner Chamber of Commerce at 587-2757. They always need help wrapping. Visit http://www.ttcf.net for information about the Gifts for Good program. Might your elderly neighbor enjoy a plate of home-baked cookies? It’s that easy to do, and to teach the children in your life.