A little over a month ago, Marit and I were talking about ways to give children meaningful experiences around service and charity during the holidays. Teaching empathy and social/civic responsibility is something we think about a lot. Based on the number of inquiries we received from parents and schools looking for community service opportunities, we know that many of you are thinking about the same thing.
Our Hopeful Holiday Campaign grew out of our conversation. There are three big ideas we consider when creating service opportunities for children.
1. Children need to "get their hands dirty" Physically, making something or doing something is an important part of meaningful service because it is participatory. Children become a part of the act of kindness through making or doing with their own hands.
2. Children need opportunities to practice empathy. Considering others' circumstances and perspectives is easier for children when there is an established connection like one with other children or pets.
3. Children need to see and feel the joy of giving. Giving helps the giver as much as the receiver. Once children feel how good it feels to help others, they will want to recreate that feeling.
This year HCO offered three service opportunities. Adopt a Santa Letter was an incredible success. We answered nearly 85 letters to Santa and made all those wishes come true. We received many Family Care Packages, including letters and cards written by children, a lovely and thoughtful touch. We reached out to South Hampton Animal Shelter, who reported receiving lots of dog teats, blankets, and other goodies- not sure how many of the HCO family participated in dropping stuff off. However, there is still time to do that if you are interested.
Four days ago, we added a last-minute toy drive, which many families visited, enabling us to donate bags and boxes of toys to underserved children. If your children came to the toy-drive -I'm sure they felt the joy.
We will continue to think about ways to get children involved in service and love to hear your thoughts, experiences, and any new ideas about the topic. If you participated in our Hopeful Holiday Campaign opportunities, we love to hear about it and see pictures!
Cheers to a Happy and Hopeful New Year