We cannot believe how quickly 2016 flew by and already it is that time of the year again. The holidays are in full swing with Diwali having just ended and Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year right around the corner. And again this year, as years past, we are all thinking about new ways to give back. The spirit of the holidays just drum up this feeling in all of us to give back and make sure our children understand the concept. This time of year, they are so consumed by toy catalogues and holiday wish lists, we try to remind them of the children that aren’t able to do the same. This is so important to all three of us that we teach the kids the importance of giving back to those less fortunate and even as fortunate.
When our parents came to this country, like is the story for many immigrant families, they had a few dollars in their pockets and worked their way up to what they have today. This hard work is what gave many of us the leg up on life to be able to go to school, get educated, and get a job. Along the way, our parents reinforced the importance of giving, whether it was giving our time, money, help or possessions. Many of the little kids these days, including ours, are ‘wanters’ and we want them to also be givers. Having the heart to give versus want is particularly import in this new generation where parents are able to afford more non-essentials for their kids.
So what are we doing to share this value? We each have inspired each other in ways we hear about through media and friends to start engaging in new ways to be charitable. This year, and a couple of years past, we have found new ways to give back thanks to friends who have taken on initiatives to do just that.
First and foremost, where we find places and charities to help out is using Charity Navigator. This site houses all the charities and tells you who is using what percentage for overhead, administrative expenses and actual charitable contributions. It is a great way to weed out the good charities from the ones that are not so giving.
Last year, Sheena donated to a soup kitchen to help out around the holidays. Soup kitchens are such a great place to help ALL YEAR AROUND because these folks do not have 3 meals a day and come to these facilities for a meal. So whether you donate your time, money, or food, you will be helping feed someone in need which is something you can be grateful for every time you sit down to eat yourself. Again, a great lesson to see, feel and experience for kids to understand how fortunate we are to have food on the table each and every day.
For the last several years, Sheena and Nina have been participating in an event put on by a dear friend called Santa’s Little Allstars Toy Drive. In this event, everyone brings their children with some new unopened gifts to wrap at the event to then donate forward in hospitals to little kids. They have activities set up for the kids, face painting, pizza and music. It is a fun time for all while trying to instill the art of giving into the hearts of these little people!
Nina’s neighbor’s teenage daughter had hosted her own art party around Diwali this year for Artware for Good – a charity that gives back in multiple ways artistically all around the world! She chose her project to be placed at the World Heritage Site in Lumbini, Nepal and the monetary donations, which each guest was asked to donate $20 to participate in the party, was given to the Karuna Girls College in Nepal. Again, a fantastic way to host friends, do charitable work all while making a small difference in the world.
Other little things that we have started doing, Nina has created a rule that every time any of the girls get a new gift they have to remove something from the playroom to give to a child that does not have toys. Sheena has the boys pick out a few books every couple of months to donate to book drives for kids in need. She also has them pick out 10 toys each that they will be donating to kids in need before the holidays to “make room” for their new ones. Dipti has been teaching Diav to just learn the basic art of sharing as he is still very young, but she plans to implement some of the things that Sheena and Nina already do.
What are your charitable plans this season? Or even throughout the year?