It’s tougher than ever to help our children become kind, empathic, and caring people.
But it’s not impossible. Research shows that kids who are kind enjoy more well-being, better peer relationships, and lay the groundwork for more successful adult lives.
There are many strategies for helping kids to be kinder. But one way is to find charities that speak to them. Then help your children donate to those charities and become involved with them.
Here’s a list of charities you and your children might want to consider giving to this holiday season.
Make your donations work even harder by making contributions in the names of other family members rather than giving gifts. Grandma may love knowing that she is helping someone rather than receiving another sweater.
Feeling "cowardly" about giving another useless gift? Oxfam America offers unexpected ways to surprise your loved ones and make a difference in the fight against poverty.
Pick from a multitude of gifts: a sheep, a can of worms, 100 trees, a bicycle, or a goat.
Here’s how it works: You choose the gift. Your loved one receives a card. Your gift helps someone in need.
Self-sufficiency is this charity's mantra. Honor loved ones on your gift list with a flock of chicks, a hive of honey bees, or a goat or dairy cow. You can even buy just part of a cow along with other donors. Pick a specific gift or something more generic such as a girl's education.
For older kids in your family, Hope International might be a good choice for their charitable holiday giving. This charity focuses on something more abstract: entrepreneurship in developing countries. Donations help individuals turn their talents, education, or skills into sustainable businesses.
Although the concept is somewhat abstract, the gifts are quite concrete. For instance, a stove might help a woman set up her bakery, or a bolt of fabric helps a budding designer. A share of a greenhouse might help a farmer get started early on growing vegetables to take to market.
For young bookworms, Better World Books has a wonderful program. Young children will love picking out their own well-read books and donating them to Better World. Those books will be redistributed to kids around the world.
You can search for a nearby drop off box or mail a box of books to headquarters. Get started early to beat the holiday mailing rush. But if you miss this holiday, the book giveaway is great for any time of the year.
For global warming, environmental issues, and animals we like the World Wildlife Fund. And what kid wouldn't want to save an elephant, dolphin, or polar bear?
The website has a feature that is fun for kids and parents called "WildFinder" which maps the world's animals. It is a searchable database of thousands of species worldwide. You can search by place or species and learn about birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians.
Donating is fun too with symbolic animal adoptions, a WWF Endangered Species-of-the-Month Club, and handcrafted items that support sustainable livelihoods.
Sure to appeal to young people, Pencils of Promise, or PoP, brings education to kids around the world.
This nonprofit builds schools, trains teachers, and mentors students. In addition to this primary mission, PoP also wants to inspire people to join its movement and spread the word about the need for education in many countries.
You can donate, buy a t-shirt or a backpack, or help spread the word. Giving just $25 educates one child for one year.
Be sure to read about Adam Braun, the young founder of this inspiring organization. While backpacking around the world, Adam asked a young person what he wanted most. The answer? A pencil. Thus an idea was planted, and Adam took it from there.
Save the Chimps provides a permanent sanctuary for the lifelong care of chimpanzees rescued from research laboratories, the entertainment industry, and the pet trade. The rescued chimps live on three small islands in Florida. Caged for most of their lives, the chimps now have space, freedom, and companionship.
Your family can support the chimps by donating, providing food, medical care, or by "adopting" one of the chimps. There is even an online shop where you can purchase Save a Chimp clothing or other items.
A small charity, Save the Chimps has an inspiring story to tell, and they do tell it. Your heartstrings will hum with the backstories of the chimps and, by signing up for regular emails, you'll learn about how they all are doing. These chimps become individuals with names and families.
The New York Times reports that close to 60 million people around the world have had to leave their homes because of war or persecution. Many others do so because of drought or floods.
It's impossible to look away from the images of desperate people, especially children, that we see on the news every day. One way to help is to support the International Rescue Committee.
This holiday season, help supply toilets at refugee camps, support healthcare for a child, or send a girl to school. Just pick a gift and then dedicate it to a person you choose (grandma, maybe?). Choose an emailed card, or even better, a printed one that arrives by mail.
Ever heard of a book famine? Well, they exist around the world.
Books For Africa has one goal, and that is to get as many books as possible into the hands of kids in Africa. They collect books, ship them and get them to children of all ages wherever they are needed.
To do all of this, they need money. You can help with a donation.
Books For Africa is a plain, no-nonsense charity. That's why they don't have the flashiest of websites. But this organization holds the highest rating available at CharityNavigator, an independent evaluation group.
If you're near St. Paul, Minnesota or Atlanta, Georgia, your family can even volunteer at the Books For Africa warehouses in those cities.
Donate, volunteer, help fundraise for this worthy group. Sometimes, it's the simple things, like a book, that can make a world of difference.
Never thought rats could be cute or cool? Well, just check out HeroRat! I'm betting you know a child who would love to sponsor one of these specially trained rats that sniff out dangerous landmines. They save lives. And they are unbelievably cute as well.
Kids can adopt a rat, donate money, or buy a gift that will support the training and care of the HeroRats.