We were so proud last year when we found out that Ella won the UNICEF box decorating contest! Her and Enu made entries and both were selected as kids of the week for their awesome box designs. Ella won her age group and UNICEF sent us boxes (some of her own design) for her to share with her school. Of course waiting Halloween to come around again was a long wait, but Ella kept it in her mind and over the summer she did extra chores, asked for donations from family members (a cute sign on her door) and set her goal to collect $30 for UNICEF. She reached her goal and we were so happy for her.
After talking with her principle we came up with a coin drive for Trick or Treat for UNICEF for the whole school to take part in. Ella set the goal for $100
(including her money) and every Friday in October I am to go the the school, count the coins and add to the poster what the kiddos brought in, showing them what that money can buy children in need. After only four days we had collected over $146!!! That is 146 protein biscuits for hungry kids! Wow. Her $100 goal was blown out of the water! We are so grateful for the kids, parents and teachers who helped Ella reach her goal and we are looking forward to the final total to see what we accomplish together.
What really excites me about this project is that it is Ella driven. She won the contest (I did tell them about the contest, but didn’t make them enter.) she collected money on her own, she wanted to do a school fundraiser, and she did the majority of the stapling boxes to letters. Watching her eyes getting excited and her pride in a job well done is a beautiful thing to see.
Giving is a personal choice, and if it isn’t done freely and with genuine sincerity, then it’s not authentic and the giver doesn’t get the whole blessing. Some of us are natural givers, some of us natural skeptics and some of us see no reason or purpose in giving. In my early years I felt guilty if I didn’t give to everything and everyone. I signed up for things not really dear to my heart, I tossed coins into every bowl. With time and maturity I realized that it was okay to pass a Salvation Army bell ringer or a Bitty League team without dropping in coins. It is okay to become passionate about something and donate your time and money to that cause. I believe that God made us all unique, with different likes and dislikes and if everyone gave time and money to what was dear to our hearts, the world would be covered. It may sound Pollyanna, but I really believe in it. I know there are times when we cannot give time or money, but there are also times we can give.
Teaching my girls to be givers has been more challenging than I had imagined. I finally learned to shut my mouth and let them just watch. I am not the perfect example of a giver, but I am the example they see most. I want them to learn that sometimes we give because it is the right thing to do. Sometimes we are nudged by God to give, even if it’s not our normal “cause”. Sometimes we give anonymously and let the smiles be our thank you. Sometimes you give very publicly and have a door or a building with your name on it – not for the recognition but the public decree that something matters to you. They need to see that volunteer hours make a great impact as well as a checkbook and that the giver really does get the blessing.
In time they will have to learn due diligence and check out organizations before they work for or donate money too, but for right now I want them to feel the humbling satisfaction that comes with helping another person, an animal or the environment. I want them to learn that once something is given, it is out of your control. Growing up I remember hearing people say they don’t give to homeless people because they just go and buy alcohol or about non-profit organizations gone bad or run unethically wasting donation, ruining public trust. These examples make people feel they have an excuse not to give. These comments made me sad, because even as a child I knew that not every organization was bad or wasteful, that there were plenty of places that truly helped. We cannot control the gift once it is given. We can learn to look for other places to give.
I personally like UNICEF’s work with refugees and extreme poverty, though I know some international adoptive parents do not support their adoption stance. If you want to support Trick or Treat for UNICEF check out their site. This is an easy and simple way to incorporate giving with your children.
I am proud Ella is learning the thrill of giving and the feeling of accomplishment. She’s my little Girl Scout learning to set goals, work hard and produce results. I’ll let you know the total she has raised with her school at the end of October!
A few other places easy to involve kids with:
Or try a local organization (church, food bank, community center) and see what projects they offer!