Gimme Gimme Learns to Give
Submitted by Deva Dalporto
The only Christmas gifts my mother ever got as a child were from Police Athletic League
toy drives. Her parents were too poor to afford shoes, never mind lavish gifts. I always think about this at Christmastime. How hard it must have been to rely on charity to give your kids anything special. And this year that's the unfortunate case for more and more familes. With the economy tanking and jobless rates soaring, charitable giving is more important than ever. I've heard again and again that people are asking charities
for help in droves, many for the first time.
Fortunately, my husband and I are doing fine and are able to give our daughter what she needs and a lot of what she wants. But lately, it seems she wants everything! Whenever we walk into a store, she begs to leave with a toy. Of course, I don't indulge her, but even so, her "Gimme! Gimme!" is getting out of control. She's only two, but I really want her to be aware of what her "Nonna" lived through and begin to understand the hardships that millions of people face every day. So this holiday season, I felt compelled to introduce my little princess to the concept of giving to those less fortunate. You're probably already saying, "What was she thinking? The kid is 2!" Well, now I'm wondering the same thing ...
I thought I'd pick small, age-appropriate charitable projects
my toddler and I could do together. Last month, we donated old coats to a drive at a local church. I tried to explain that there were people who couldn't afford jackets who needed our help. After nodding at my explanation, my toddler refused to part with her faux fur coat even though it was two sizes too small. She kept screaming, "Mine! Mine!" as I pried it out of her tiny hands. But I didn't let my mini-Grinch discourage me. Onward!
At Thanksgiving, we filled a box with a Turkey Day feast to bring to a shelter. I know she can't grasp the concept of hunger, other than her own, quite yet. (She still tosses half her dinner on the floor every night!) Still, she seemed eager to help fill the box with goodies. Until she decided to unpack the box. 'Cause that's the game, right? No? Okay, then, how about a full-blown tantrum as Mommy tries to repack the canned goods? Yep, strike two.
I recently read that Toys for Tots
has seen a 25 percent increase in requests this year and has only collected 10% of the number of donations it has in previous years; so far they've only received 5,000 of their goal of 200,000 toys. Reading this inspired me to pay back the kindness my mother received as a child. So I took my daughter shopping and let her leave the store with a toy...for someone else. Oh, boy...full-on meltdown: MINE! MINE! MINE! When I explained to her that the Polly Pockets weren't for her, she looked at me like I was speaking Swahili. And I stared back wondering if I've somehow raised a brat, or if I was just expecting too much from her at too young an age.
According to a recent study
, kids who volunteer at a young age grow up to make healthier life choices, hone vital life skills and continue to volunteer throughout their lives. The study didn't specify exactly how young, however. So maybe I jumped the gun?
What's your take? How young is too young to involve kids and really have them really "get it?" When did your kids get involved in volunteer projects?