What better time than the holiday season to talk about raising generous children? In fact, so many folks reflect on giving back at this time of year, charitable organizations focused on feeding the hungry often have to turn down Thanksgiving volunteers. That's why I'm such a big fan of #GivingTuesday. More than just another hashtag holiday, it's a great way to educate ourselves about a variety of organizations doing good every day of the year. This #GivingTuesday, why not use the spirit of the day to plan for service projects for the upcoming year? Here are a few suggestions to get you started.
Plan a book drive in your school or community. I'm a huge proponent of literacy initiatives, so it's no surprise this is my favorite giving project. Studies show that the best way to improve reading ability in children is to increase the number of books they have access to. According to the American Library Association, a classroom library should have 300-600 books. Classrooms in low income communities often fall far short of the optimal number of books, and are serving children that may have few - if any - books available at home. Your book drive can be hands on or virtual, and it's easy to connect to charities that will assist you in getting the books to schools or families that need them.
Create art projects that go further than hanging on the fridge. Children often instinctively understand that art is a way to express ideas and feelings. Creating bags, placemats, and cards for Meals on Wheels is a great way to start a conversation about how we can bring happiness to others in simple ways. Even very young children can participate, understand, and feel joy in giving something they created to someone who will appreciate it.
Replace a field trip with a service trip. For older kids, it's a great idea to bring them into the discussion about the needs of your local community. I also enjoy helping young people identify the areas of service that speak to them, and I've been pleasantly surprised by the passion expressed by students for causes they identify with. Once you've chosen a group project suitable for your resources and availability, you can help individual students think through ways they can connect with their cause.
As always, I'd love to hear suggestions from you. What giving projects have you worked on in the classroom? Do you have a favorite charitable organization? Let us know in the comments. For information on the initiatives I'm working with this #GivingTuesday, connect with me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Byronvgarrett.