With Thanksgiving and Christmas coming, it's time to think about charitable giving. I love giving to charities and I think it's one of the best things you can do. I wouldn't say that I'm anti-garage sale, but I definitely feel that those who are fortunate should share the gifts they've been given. God has been so good to me and I want to give back whenever I can. Here are some ways to make your Charitable Giving better for those who receive your gifts. I volunteered to sort items weekly during college and have some good advice to share...
1. If you are donating used items, please make sure they are clean. Many organizations don't have time to wash clothes or toys, and a little extra shine and cleanliness makes those receiving it feel as if it's almost "new".
2. Also make sure that toys, electronics, and kitchen items work and are in good shape.
3. Take a moment and find the instruction manuals and put in new batteries if you can. Add or find things that make the items complete.
4. If you are donating food, please don't only give your scraps: for example, cans of spinach that no one in your family liked. If they are asking for canned goods, go buy some of your favorites to mix in with the less craved items.
5. Don't forgot to look at boxed food, like macaroni and cheese or hamburger helper, canned goods get old.
6. Only give homemade foods when permissible and check expiration dates on your donated food to make sure it will be okay for a few months to come.
7. Don't ever take tags off. A woman who brought things to our church said she was embarrassed by all the clothes she hadn't worn, so she took the tags off. What she didn't know is that if we sell that items at a second hand shop, original tags (or packaging) increase the value and increase the gift to a charity or cause.
8. If you don't have anything to give, check with the charity to see if you can give your time or your money instead. Many organizations ask for food or clothing, because people are more willing to part with it, but almost every group can use help and can use monetary donations.
9. Get your kids involved! Here's why:
My family had a few times a year that we organized things for charitable purposes, beyond our normal offering at church. We always did the Giving Tree during the Christmas season (you pick a name of a needy child off the Christmas tree, receive a Santa List for that child, and buy them something on their list). My brother and I both got to pick a name, and we usually went for a child around the same age, same gender. My parents funded this at first, but as years went on, I found myself giving my own money to buy a few extra things on their list, beyond what my parents had planned. One year, I was about 13, I picked a girl my age and got her the first item on her list. A matching sweater and pants in the perfect size, straight from the store she mentioned. I also saw jewelry that I thought matched and bought it. After Christmas break, I was walking down the hall and saw a horrible bully wearing that outfit. I thought her parents' must have gotten her the same thing...
until I saw the earrings. I came home and cried and cried... for her, for me, and prayed that I would always look for the reasons people maybe were mean or angry. Trust me, knowing my church better and what they do, if she was on that tree, she had a tough life. Only my Mom and husband have heard this story until now. But I wanted you to know what a profound impact these things can have on your kids for the rest of their life.
10. I mentioned that Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming up, but also find ways to donate your time or money year round. One favorite activity is the "Sweet" jar (think of it as my anti-swear jar idea). Every time your child does something sweet, give them a quarter to put in the jar. Once they fill the jar (start small), they get to pick the charity and either donate the money directly or buy something to help. It's a great way to get kids involved without the negative feeling of a 'swear" jar (or putting money in each time you say something bad or negative). The "sweets" part can also be used for little kids. They can take a small portion to buy something sweet for themselves, as they're learning about giving. But I think you'll find over time that they will not really want anything but to give ALL the money they earned away.
Want more great ideas? Visit Works-For-Me-Wednesdays, hosted by Shannon at Rocks In My Dryer.