LaSara Firefox guest posts today for Mom It Forward, she is a MPNLP, coach, trainer, and author. Through her website, LaSarafirefox.com, She helps clients find balance in their lives, and alignment with their personal and family-held values. She’s wife to an outstanding man, and mom to two brilliant girls. (This article is an excerpt, you can read it in it's entirety.)
Even when funds are tight, giving reminds us of how much we have, and how fortunate we are.
While coming face to face with money-problems can be a challenging experience, being able to do something about it is a saving grace.
With our nation in the grasp of some hard financial times, many of us are holding back on the consumptive aspect of the season. What better way than giving, to remind us what we've got?
1. Cull/weed household belongings and take them to the local shelter or women's center.
An easy starting point is to cull or weed your household goods. While you're at it, you can suggest that your kids do the same, and have them decide what they're willing to part with to help a kid in need.
If your kids are ready for the experience, they may want to participate in the delivery of items, too. My older daughter who's 11 asked to come along on the next drop off.
2. Host a Potlatch and take all left-over items to the charity or service of your choice.
The potlatch ceremony is also called a give-away. Potlatch comes from the indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest coastline. In a potlatch, you give away your belongings as a celebration of your abundance. In north-western native culture, the potlatch consisted of every home in the village putting belongings outside for the the taking. The one who gave the most, as opposed to the family who HAD the most, gained the highest status.Invite your friends to bring belongings to offer, and to take what they need from what others are giving away. At the end of the potlatch, invite your friends to leave all extra items, and take them to your local shelter or favorite charity.
3. Help your kid come up with ways to help humanity.
Food drives, clothing drives, penny drives, quilt drives, coat drives, and more. There are so many ways to help. What are some creative ways your child can brainstorm to gather resources together and offer them to those less-fortunate? For maximum impact on your kids sense of service, allow him or her to offer ideas, and do your best to support them. The more empowered your kid is to participate in grateful giving, the more organic and integrated the experience becomes.
Recently, my 11 year old decided to bring her change jar - a huge pickle jar with a good start on coins - to her classroom for a change drive. It was fully her idea, start to finish.
4. Offer service at your local soup kitchen.
Our local soup kitchen offers a family lunch service before the general lunch service. While the general service might be a little risky to take kids to, the family service is a great way for kids to come face to face with those they are helping.
Ask the kitchen if you can bring a dish, or home made cookies or something easy. Your child's sense of accomplishment and generosity will be even larger if they have had a hand in creating the food they're offering out.
5. Want to make it international, yet very personal? Microfinancing is a great option!
Microfinancing is a great way to involve your family in the international picture of wealth distribution, resources, and generosity. Getting into microfinancing is a great opportunity to talk to your kids about currencies, and how an American dollar goes a lot farther in a third-world country. It's also a great opportunity to illustrate the dire financial conditions in other countries, while still illustrating the fact that we are not powerless to create change. For example, $150 goes a long way in the Philippines. The listing below is from Kiva.org:
"Vicenta Duron is 52 years old ... She tills a small parcel of land, which she inherited from her father. Her life is in farming and she loves growing crops, especially rice. ...Vicenta needs a loan of $125 to purchase sacks of certified seed and fertilizers. She also plans to open a store where she can sell her farm produce, and increase her profits to support her family."
-Kiva.org loan request
For additional information see: www.microfinancegateway.org.