Even Santa has Helpers!
by Kas Winters, Mother of Family Ideas™
Clean, Repair, and Donate Toys
This is a great time to have children go through their toys and find those they are willing to pass on to other children who may not have as many playthings as they do. They can also include items they have outgrown, no longer use, or others they would simply like to give as a gifts. (If motivation is needed, suggest that there is no room for new toys unless they clean and share what they already have.)
Part of this activity includes making sure toys are clean and repaired so their new owners can enjoy them. Wash dolls, doll clothes and washable stuffed animals. Mend torn items. Wash toy cars and trucks, and anything else that is dirty. Repair broken parts with glue or whatever is necessary. (It's a great time to teach cleaning and repair skills to children. They think they are just having a good time while they are really learning—and getting some attention from a parent or other adult.) Make sure all the pieces are included for games and puzzles. Package these securely so pieces will not be lost when the toys are delivered to children.
Many places only accept new toys, but, with a few phone calls, you can usually find a church, school, St. Vincent de Paul, or homeless shelter willing to take "second-time-around" toys in good condition.
Another approach is for children to sell refurbished toys at a yard sale. Money earned from the sale can be used to purchase a new toy for a child who needs something for Christmas. If you know of a family in need, leave the new toy or toys at their door, or give money directly to a parent of the family.
Provide New Toys and Gifts
Most toy distribution programs today insist on new toys only. The number of organizations that collect toys and Christmas gifts to be delivered to children is extensive and it is easy to find them. Fire stations are often involved. There are "Angel Trees" with wish tags at most major malls. Churches, schools, women's groups, the Salvation Army, Marines Toys for Tots, and many other places collect items to give to families in need.
Let children be part of the process of shopping, choosing, and even purchasing gifts for others. Express how very important receiving something NEW is to children who have little or nothing. It can change lives. If they select an item for someone who is their age, youngsters envision that person receiving joy from things they might like to receive themselves.
Older children and teens might find ways to earn a little extra cash to contribute to the purchase of a gift for another person. Experiencing the joy of giving early in life can result in a lifetime habit which benefits the giver and those who are blessed with generosity. Families who work together to provide for others feel good about themselves too.
If you are part of a group doing the giving, perhaps a child can be involved in wrapping the gift prior to delivery. Whenever it is possible, take your family with you to deliver gifts. Fill a grocery cart with food for a family and deliver non-perishables to a food bank, homeless shelter, or church.
Kas Winters, the Mother of Family Ideas™ provides resources to help families thrive. An author and public speaker, this grandmother creates books, offers hundreds of family activity articles on her website, EverythingFamily.net, and does workshops for parents and children. Kas is passionate about helping children develop a positive self-image, providing hands-on experiences to give them confidence, and building strong supportive relationships. Her basic philosophy is: children learn best when they think they are having fun. Discover more than 5,000 activities for toddlers through teens to keep them busy while helping them become successful and happy adults in her book, "Motherlode." Jump-start children's imaginations with unstructured materials and possibilities. Encourage creative play that builds skills, confidence, and relationships with active fun, the arts, science, literature, life skills, and hands-on experiences. Ideas use everyday materials, usually free, which help make parenting easy. Winters has written, illustrated and/or published almost 100 books for families and writes family articles for magazines. As the "Family Activities Expert" for Pregnancy.org, Kas posts articles and answers questions related to this topic.
Copyright © Kas Winters. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org.