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Making a Selfless Act of Charity Also a Self-serving Purpose

Between school, after-school activities, social time, meal time, and of course down time, it can seem challenging to make time for anything else. But at Primerrily, we view a challenge simply as an opportunity to grow! So what is it that we will find a way to make time for? Charity. In this case, we’re not talking about the “give and go-on” type of charitable giving, but the roll-up-your-sleeves type of charitable doing, the type that opens your personal experience to a perspective not-so-apparent in your “everyday” life.

As this idea relates to my kids, I’ve wondered how I can help them understand -- in an age-appropriate way, of course -- the needs of those less fortunate within my community, across our country, and in this world. In other words, how can I best lay the foundation of charity and giving in my kid’s system of values? Further, how can these values be instilled in a way that makes the selfless act not actually selfless? Almost as though it’s a take on the Ayn Randian theory known as “the virtue of selfishness.” I want the value of charity to be incorporated into my kids’ personal interest, such that acting on this value of giving to others is simultaneously in their own pursuit of personal happiness.

Some reflections: first, the Primerrily community stands by the lasting impact of authentic experiences. Our kids are sponges, so when possible, we have them right there with us for everyday activities -- from civic responsibilities (e.g. voting) to personal chores (e.g. making the bed) -- that we want them to be aware of, exposed to, and grow with. This developmental approach makes any “lesson” -- one experience at a time -- a sustainable understanding. And if there’s anything in need of sustaining, it’s the personal act of charity. In this imperfect world, there will always be those less fortunate. For this reason, there must always be the heart, will, and resources among the private citizenry to help give a hand to those in need.

As this idea relates to the Thanksgiving season and its food drives (and before you know it, the holiday season and its toy drives!), the Primerrily community loves bringing our kids with us to the grocery store to select and purchase nonperishable food items suitable for donations. We explain to them the reasons why we are on this special shopping trip, and then why we will be donating the food to our favorite support-providing organization. Ask your kids about types of food they might want someone to donate if they were hungry and didn’t have food in the kitchen. When we get home, together we organize and bag the items to be donated. Finally, together we deliver and distribute at our local collection and distribution food pantry. By making this experience an activity -- a memorable activity (take it to the Treehouse!) -- our hope is to instill a personal desire to help others; again, not only for the sake of those less fortunate, but also for the moral duty within our kids themselves.

If you’re looking for an opportunity for how to “deliver” on this with your kids, take the lead! With resources such as Feeding America, it’s easy to find a food pantry to partake in a memorable and humbling season of giving and gratitude. And perhaps at dinner time tonight, when you ask your kids if their bellies are full, you can then ask, “And after donating that food to help some other hungry kids, is your heart fuller too?” Share with us some more ways you share this experience with your kids. One kid at a time, we are passing along all that much more heart, will, and resources to the next generation.

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