Community service and the money smart lesson

by Lisa McCarthy

Community serviceI often talk about money smart kids also needing to learn about giving back.

And, although as parents we almost always have the right intentions, many times, when it comes to some fund raisers or school charitable events, we just open our wallets and give money. This doesn't really bring our children into the process. I know I do.

My daughter's school has many different charity drives throughout the year and I give willingly but I don't include my daughter unless you count carrying the envelop to the teacher.

This year my daughter's entered middle school. Part of her class grade is doing community, school and home service hours every semester.

I hate to admit it, but when the form came home, I was thinking, "Oh great, one more thing for me to cart her to on the weekend!" Yes, I looked at this like one more thing on my "mommy do list"!

She told me that she wanted her community activity to do something with animals. So her first activity was helping at a fundraiser for a local charity called "Be Kind To Animals." This organization takes in abandoned and abused dogs that are about to be euthanized because no one wants them. I know the owner, this is her passion -- the stories are heartbreaking and the outcome after she has rescued them and found them a "forever home" is amazing.

Last Sunday afternoon, in the 95 degree Florida heat, my daughter and a group of her friends set out to a local beach hang out to help sell donated articles with proceeds going to the organization.

Now my daughter is generally shy, but as I watched her talk to complete strangers as they walked by and tell them about the organization and about the dogs that have been saved I was proud! With each dollar the group got, they cheered, they laughed and I watched their confidence grow! The two hours of service went by quickly and turned into three and none of them wanted to leave.

The lessons learned that day were many going far beyond just raising money. These kids not only learned about doing something for others but how even at 11-years-old they can make a difference.

So as parents when we think about teaching our children about money and responsibility, think about the charity and giving side to money. In raising responsible children we need to have them think beyond just saving and wanting for themselves.

How have you gotten your kids involved in community service? Is it part of your child's school program?

Lisa McCarthyLisa Laughton McCarthy is a mom with a passion! As the founder of MoneySmartKidz and author of "The Money Tree," Lisa, takes delight in finding fun creative ways to help show young children the value of financial independence! Her first book "The Money Tree," with its eye-catching illustrations, is the answer to every parent who wants to give their child a head start on the road to financial independence.

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