Like every parent, I want my kids to grow up to be happy, successful and charitable. I not only want them to find whatever career path or lifestyle makes them most happy, but I want them to realize the important of spreading love and charity.
Throughout the years we've "dabbled" in charitable giving. We've donated our time to the local library, bought toys for Toys for Tots and planted flowers for Cub Scouts.
Last year, however, on a whim, a friend and I started a charity that has allowed us to really show our children the value of giving.
Play it Forward Pittsburgh is a gently used children's toy drive. We collect toys from area families for several weeks/months, then turn around and give them all out to families in need at a "shopping" day in December. The idea started when I was cleaning out my children's playroom and wanted to give the unneeded toys to a new family. Along with a good friend who had a lot of experience in raising money through charitable events, we decided to take our idea of giving gently used toys away to the internet. It was an instant hit and last year in the course of two weeks we collect 5,000 toys. I like that it allows my children to look through their own toys and decide what to keep and what to donate to a new little boy.
We started a bit earlier this year (October) and were able to collect over 20,000 toys! On Saturday we set up shop and gave them all away for free to area families that needed a little extra help this year. We gave toys to over 2,100 children.
What I love most about the toy drive, in addition to helping needy families, is the lesson it's teaching my kids. They now understand that we have more than we need and that some people don't. They see us working hard to give to others. They know it's possible and worthwhile to help others.
I was so impressed this year that so many volunteers brought their children. And they all said the same thing, that they wanted their kids to see it for themselves. To help, to give back. And the kids all seemed to "get it". Some were older than my kids, but some were younger. All of them were there for the same reason. To help people.
Many parents thanked me afterwards for giving them the opportunity to share this lesson with their kids. I think it's important and I'm so glad they do as well. It warms my heart to know we are raising a generation of altruistic people.
What do you to to help teach your kids to help others?
Photo by Allie Wynands, Point Park News Service