It’s advertised on the television and radio, and in every store you could ever possibly walk in—the ‘holiday’ aisle. Most recently, retail shelves have been filled with Marshmallow candies, jelly beans, and chocolate bunnies of every size. The famed Easter Bunny is waiting to distribute lavish baskets filled with gifts and candy for children. If we aren’t surrounded with candy eggs, families have Valentine’s Day, Christmas/Hanukkah gifts, Birthdays, or the hottest Summer Toys to consider. With such an abundance, how do we encourage our children and families to be more charitable, philanthropic, and avoid the trap of the unnecessary inundation?
It’s not realistic or expected that a family doesn’t celebrate the joys, celebrations, and traditions that commemorate a holiday. Some of my favorite childhood memories include running around in my grandmas backyard searching for Easter eggs with my cousins. I remember the joy I felt over the holidays when I got the ‘big’ gift; the exact game or doll I so badly wanted. These are memories I wouldn’t change for the world. My family traditions were as important as any gift I could have received. My family also taught me the importance of giving back. The practice and idea of charity wasn’t forced upon me; instead my parents taught me how to be a better community member over time. My family modeled and encouraged being caring and generous to others.
So how do we live our lives with good intent? How do we lead by example and care for others in a way that positively influences and motivates our friends, family, and children? For me, connecting with non-profits and charitable organizations that value causes important to myself and our community is incredibly important. Talking about important causes and encouraging my friends and family to get involved is also key. On holidays and during parties we can encourage friends/family/children to get involved in some way. My husband and I like to ask our friends to bring some type of ‘themed’ donation to our yearly birthday party. We have collected ‘care kits’ for children entering foster care, school supplies, clothing and toiletries for a local homeless shelter.
With children, teaching generosity and charitable giving can be as easy as incorporating a value or lesson into a traditional activity or choosing to participate in a specific charitable event. Kids will learn that these holidays are not only about receiving, but also about considering and thinking of others. Regardless of your age, it’s never too early or late to start practicing ‘giving back’, being charitable, and being generous with your time, treasure, or talents.
Some ways to incorporate service into your Easter holiday:
-Put Plastic Easter Eggs filled with seeds in a garden bed. Have kids open each egg and plant the seeds where they found the egg.
– Have kids leave donations for the Easter Bunny before bed. When they awake, the Easter Bunny can leave goodies and a thank-you note for the donation.
– While waiting for the holiday meal, have the kids (and adults) make get-well-soon cards to deliver to children who are in the hospital.
– If you can’t be with your family/friends and/or before the meal, volunteer at a local charity or serve a holiday meal.
Passover is just around the corner, here are more ideas:
– For each of the 8 nights of Passover, have your child find a toy or clothing item to donate. On the 8th night, go shopping for a new toy to donate (before heading to a carb-fest to end the holiday). Parents can do their own donating as well!
– Encourage your friends/family coming to Sedar to bring a themed item to be donated instead of flowers or wine (i.e. toiletries, pet food, school supplies… whatever your local agency can benefit from!)
– It’s tradition to ‘sell’ your bread products before Passover; bring your kids to a local food bank to donate your chametz. You can take the opportunity to donate other canned goods and non-perishable items.
We would love to hear your thoughts and the ways you bring these practices into your home. As a society, we must encourage lifelong learning and charitable families. What other ideas do you have to give back?
Did you and your family volunteer or do something charitable this holiday weekend? Feel free to send photos and information about how your family gave back or plan on giving back. We will be happy to feature your family’s charitable work on our Facebook page or website!
MSW@USC graduates leave our program ready to create significant change in their communities and throughout the world. Our rigorous curriculum prepares students to be leaders in social work, and the variety of our focused concentration areas allows students to individualize their coursework based on their own unique goals and aspirations. Graduates are passionate about making a difference, and the MSW@USC program gives them the tools to do just that. The following five MSW@USC graduates are great examples of how our students have used their education and experience in unique and innovative ways.
1. Ashley Rhodes-Courter
Concentration: Families and Children
Born to a single mother, Ashley Rhodes-Courter entered Florida’s foster care system when she was 3 years old. After moving between 14 different homes, she was finally adopted when she was 12. Despite her challenges, Ashley is a firm believer that “it’s not enough to complain about something if you’re not willing to be a part of the solution.” Now an MSW@USC graduate, Ashley commits herself to advocating for other foster children. She wrote a memoir about her challenging childhood,Three Little Words, which is now being made into a major motion picture. Her second book, Three More Words, was published in June and expands on life beyond the foster care system. Through her perseverance, Ashley has become an internationally recognized speaker on foster care, adoption, education, child welfare, human rights, families, youth advocacy, women’s issues and overcoming adversity.
It’s not enough to complain about something if you’re not willing to be a part of the solution.