As adults we (hopefully) all know how to give back to our community. We bag up canned goods and send them to school for a food drive, we add an unwrapped toy to the collection bin at church, hang a pair of new mittens onto the mitten tree at our local shopping center, and probably write out a check or two to support our favorite local charities. But the holidays are also a perfect time to show our children ways to give back to their communities too.
#1 Clean up a local nature trail
A great thing to do after a big holiday meal is to take a nice walk outdoors as a family. And since you are out there anyway… it's not hard to bring along a few plastic bags to gather trash that you find on the trail. Bigger kids can hike on ahead and move any dead branches that have fallen onto the trail and make it more accessible for local hikers to enjoy!
#2 Give back to your school while dining out
Our family loves to eat out- and goodness knows that it is nice to have a night off from cooking during the busy holiday season! But did you know you can donate 1% of your check back to your child's school every time you dine at Red Robin? It's easy with the Red Robin Royalty Program! Learn more here! In addition to exclusive discounts and promotions, the Red Robin Royalty Program helps your family earn cash for your favorite school while you eat. So seriously- Sign up today! And take the night off from cooking!
#3 Volunteer at an animal shelter
My daughters and I recently had the chance to visit our local animal shelter and learn about ways that kids can help train the dogs to be more “family ready” through clicker training. Our shelter even offers a class so that the girls can become “clicker certified” and work with the dogs on a regular basis. In our case, the dogs remain inside of their enclosures, but the kids can teach them to calm down when a person approaches, as well as basic commands such as “sit” and “down”. The pups are rewarded with treats as well as clicks, and my kids have a hand in helping these dogs learn behaviors that will make them ready for their future families. And you never know- you might get a chance to cuddle a kitten or two while you are there!
#4 Donate a meal or sweet treats
Think of all of the people who will be working in your community on Christmas Day. The police department, the fire department, the hospital staff, even the folks at the 24/7 pharmacy. How much would they like to receive a warm casserole or a plate of homemade cookies while they are working and away from their own families? This is a great thing to do as a family on Christmas Day- especially if you can drop them off on your way to Grandma's house!
#5 Start a family scholarship
For many years our extended family would do a gift exchange by drawing names so that each adult had the chance to purchase a holiday gift for another adult member of the family. We set a limit on spending to try to keep it fair- but the reality was that everyone was ending up with an extra sweater or piece of costume jewelry that we didn't really need. Until we came up with the idea that instead of buying gifts for one another- we would rather pool our money together and create a scholarship at the local high school in our family's name! It's easy to get started, just contact your local high school's guidance department and ask them for their scholarship application and guidelines.
Do you give back as a family during the holidays? I would love to hear how you do it!