Grooming the littlest philanthropists.

I recently spent some time helping the little dudes set up an online giving page for the American Heart Association’s Jump Rope for Heart fundraiser. Their dad and I explained the basic concept of charitable giving and how people’s donations could help fund research for children with heart conditions. And while one of the twins was clearly more interested in the potential prizes for participating in the campaign, the other took us both by surprise when he said he wanted to ask our neighbors for money.

“You know how much I love animals … and children are animals, too,” he explained matter-of-factly.

Fair enough. My heart swelled at his compassion. Mr. Wonderful escorted our newest philanthropist around the building as he knocked on doors reciting his practiced plea. And although he only came back with a few bucks, I could not have been more proud that he made the decision to stand for something. I could hardly believe this was the same kid who hid behind his dad’s thigh when we first met.

Sowing the seeds.

It’s important to me to plant the seeds of giving in these little boys’ hearts – and I can’t get enough of their innocent impressions of the world. We build a gratitude tree together each fall. And a couple Christmases ago, I encouraged them to choose a child’s name from our church’s holiday giving tree. These “angel trees” are usually covered with paper ornaments that have a child’s wish written on it. You take an ornament, buy the item requested and return it to the tree for delivery to said child. After we explained to the twins that there are many less fortunate children in our community who would benefit from a little generosity, they chose to fulfill a wish from a boy their age who asked for an art set. I gave them each a little money and we let them pick out a present. This task also turned into a teachable moment about compromise and budgeting since they had to agree on the perfect kit and make sure they had enough money to cover the cost. It was a good start.

Then, last December, we tried something a little different. As we approached a similar giving tree at their school’s winter festival, I noticed a very different kind of wish hanging on the lowest branch. It said, “Elderly – Heater”. My eyes widened. Mr. Wonderful must have caught my expression because he grabbed the ornament and promptly declared, “This is the one.” The boys didn’t object. So instead of shopping the toy aisle last holiday, they got to compare space heaters for a home-bound senior citizen. The Littles even pitched in a few bucks of their own that time.

Opportunities to demonstrate and develop these boys’ character usually arise when we least expect it. And I’m incredibly grateful to have a partner in life who is committed to making those moments meaningful.

What are your strategies for raising kids who are grounded and generous?



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