Operation Christmas ChildOperation Christmas Child is a worldwide organization that delivers shoeboxes full of gifts to kids in 3rd world countries. There are collection sites all over the United States (mostly at churches) and this is an easy and rather inexpensive way for your child to participate and give to others. You can take an ordinary shoe box and you fill it with goodies for a boy or girl in one of 3 age categories. You can put things such as hygiene items, school supplies, little toys and games and accessories in your box. These are all items that can be found at the dollar store, so it is one stop shop for you and your child. We have been doing this for years and it is easy even for a small child to help pick out items and fill your box. Check out one of our boxes that we just filled; it is for a girl 5-8.
Canned Food DriveThis is another thing that happens regularly, especially around the Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter holidays. While you can not take your young children to a soup kitchen to help, you can take them directly to a food pantry to drop off items. I have taken my kids to the Fish Food Pantry in Xenia, which works like a grocery store for those in need. The ladies there who received our food donation were overjoyed for the donation and to see the kids. And the kids could see how the food is used to create a shop where those who need it can shop for free. It was a great experience for them.
I know you have all seen the trees at local malls, churches, banks and other locations all around town. This is a great way to teach your child how not to be selfless. My one recommendation is to make sure you check out the organization that is sponsoring the trees. Unfortunately there are families out there who take advantage of the situation and double and triple dip. A great organization locally that makes sure the families are in need and also makes sure they are on no other lists to receive gifts through any other organizations is Hannah's Treasure Chest. I take my kids each year to Target and have them pick out a gift that they would love for themselves (one they do not have) and then they have to give it away. This can be hard for kids, but it is a great lesson for them to learn early.
I know there are many other great ways to give back, but this is just a couple that are great for the holidays and easy for young children to participate in. Give thanks for what you have and teach your child to do the same. It is a lesson that will last a lifetime.