December 17, 2010,
M.C. asks from New York, NY on December 16, 2010
Starting a Christmas Tradition for My Fam.. Any Suggestions?
Before I had kids, I use to go to Church service but I'm just not as into church as I use to be. I would like my kids to know about the story of Christmas and be in the spirit of giving.. I have a 7yr old, 2yr old & one on the way. I was thinking my 7 year old could volunteer but not sure how to start. A lot of the sites I visited were more for adults.. Any suggestions would be great! Thanks
J.S. answers from New York on December 17, 2010
Regarding volunteering, going as a family is a great option! An earlier poster mentioned the Hands on Network - this is a national network that covers most of the country. You can find member organizations at http://www.handsonnetwork.org/, but since you live in NYC you are super lucky to have two affiliates: http://www.newyorkcares.org/ and a youth based organization http://www.childrenforchildren.org/.
K.B. answers from Jacksonville on December 16, 2010
You may want to look and see if there is a "Hands On (your town)" They usually have a gift giving night on Xmas eve that is open to all ages...:) I do this with my children starting at age 5 years...:) I know they are national, but unsure how far they go... Example..here they are called Hands on Jacksonville.
I like the looking through toys and donating them--find a battered womens shelter, an orphanage, the children's wing at the hospital, a local daycare, or even pull from the Salvation Army's Angel Tree and shop for that child. My kids love doing all the above and they are now 16, 6 and 4 and know that this is the season to help other people, and that there is a bonus of getting something new...but I am amazed how they concentrate on helping others more than what they want from Santa...:)
And yes, it does spill out into the whole year!
Disclaimer: I live in reality--my kids are FAR from perfect, and they are still kids who want things and pout, tantrum, and are normal kids)
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R.. answers from Chattanooga on December 16, 2010
You could let each of your kids pick an 'angel' to give to from the angel trees they have everywhere... We weren't in a situation to be able to do it ourselves (single father raising 4 of us...) but my SIL told us that every Christmas they would give another family who couldn't afford it Christmas (Tree, decorations, presents, food for dinner, etc.) They would also pick one of the gifts that they received to give to someone else. If you aren't in a financial position to spend that extra $$, you might have him shovel snow for an elderly person (or mother, or anyone who needs it), offer to spend time at a retirement home, something like that to help someone in need. You could also have him pick one of his (still nice) toys to put in the 'toys for tots' or something like that...
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S.T. answers from New York on December 16, 2010
Find a church that has children's programs. Realize that if you want your kids to understand about Christmas, the once a year thing won't really do it. If you got turned off from Christianity becuase of the church or religion you were involved in try another church. Some churches are spirti filled and have a lot of joy - others do not. Even the church I grew up in is vastly different than if was when I was younger - they are vitally involved in kids and teens and have programs so that the kids aren't sitting through a boring church service geared to adults - but instead are in their own part of the church stomping, dancing, making crafts, playing games that relate to biblical virtues like individuality, service, patience, helpfulness, generosity, friendship, etc.
As for volunteering - most of that takes place with adults. Do you really want to even think of dropping your 7 yr old at a food pantry by himself? Be an example and do it yourself and bring your son along.
Another idea - I'm sure there are elderly folks in your neighborhood - bake some cookies and go with your child to the door to deliver them. You'll be surprised at how welcoming seniors are - so many of them are lonely as lose their friends and the ability to get out and visit with eachother. They are starving for company. The middle school youth group at our church goes leaf-raking to the homes of seniors in our area. They are always delighted.
Enjoy this time together - you're a great mom for wanting to instill these values early in life.
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M.B. answers from Los Angeles on December 16, 2010
You could post on freecycle.org that you are looking to give some of your DS toys to a needy family. Have him go through his room and pick out good toys so he can give them to an underpriviledged family. Or you can call a church and ask if they know of a family in need. Have your son go with you to give the toys and other stuff to this family. Go M.!! Good for you teaching him how to give back.
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A.D. answers from New York on December 17, 2010
Dear M., I know it is not easy going to church with children, having had 5 myself but why not take them to church?... if there is a nativity set up, YOU can tell them the story of Christmas. They may like the church and may want to come back again. Even if not on a regular basis... they need some groundwork. Only my opinion, Grandma Mary ( volunteer religion teacher)
K.P. answers from New York on December 16, 2010
I'm a little confused by your question... are you looking for your children to understand the Christmas Story or the need for giving? They are certainly intertwined, but are two different concepts.
I would suggest reading them the Christmas Story using some children's literature. Go to the library or the book store and see what you can find. I would also suggest taking them to a Christmas church service. I'm not sure what having children had to do with your change in religious feelings, but give it a try again. You may find yourself renewed by your childrens' interest and curiosity.
As for volunteering... most places will not allow children that you to volunteer due to liability concerns. You could call around to different organizations and ask, but most have an age-limit. He could organize a food drive in the neighborhood or a door-to-door bakesale for a charity if you wanted to do something more local and on a smaller scale.
J.V. answers from Utica on December 17, 2010
Your local food bank or soup kitchen is a good place to start. Or a local nursing home/adult home/adult daycare - they are always looking for some extra cheer. Adult homes are for higher functioning elderly, so that might be a little less intimidating. For a more global approach - Heifer International has great ideas for kids (one of my very favorite charities). Good Luck - I think it is wonderful
J.D. answers from New York on December 17, 2010
Going back to church would be the greatest thing to do. After I moved out of NYC, I lost contact with my faith. I have found a great church close to me. We attend services every weekend as a family. With 5 kids it can be a challenge, getting ready, out the door, sitting in the pews like little angels. I admit that it is tough sometimes, but afterwards I always feel better knowing that we went. We try to go to the mass where they take the children in a separate area and teach them, on thier level, the same scriptures we are listening to. I find that this really works. I volunteer teaching religion as well. This helps them become more involved by helping me. Through the religious education program I have learned about various volunteer opportunities for the kids as well as adults. We get ornaments from the giving tree at church and buy gifts to wrap and place under the tree. We get for a boy and a girl. One of my sons is an altar boy and he takes pride in it. My oldest daughter volunteers to teach with me in the classroom as well as with the children's mass (teaching 3,4, and 5 years olds). My next son is waiting for next year to serve and my youngest daughter is just statring to learn how to sit in the pew long enough although she has learned most of the songs and seems to be the loudest singer in church. She absolutely loves the participating and I try to allow it and talk to her during the services. My kids attend religious classes, too. I didn't want to be like some families I have seen that send their kids to classes but never attend mass.
Anyway, the spirit of giving comes from the heart and is taught by seeing and doing. Try going back to church, look for opportuinites at school. They are there and available. Just don't push it too much because it might turn them off of it. Ease into it and talk to your children. It will work. Good Luck!