My husband and I knew well before our children were born that teaching them to give and serve would be a priority. In a world where it’s so easy to get caught up in ourselves, we strive to be intentional about helping others. Since my oldest son was born, he has ridden on my back for multiple service projects and he has gotten used to our home being filled with items we are collecting and distributing for children in need through our charity.
It’s so much a part of his life that if a toy shows up at our house, he asks if it is for him or the children we help. I hope and pray that as he grows, he and his little brother will develop a deep desire to help those around them.
Here are some things we try to do in our home to grow hearts that give and serve others:
Live with Open Hands– Throughout our marriage of 15 years, we have regularly had a charity pick up donations from our house. The charity has varied depending on what the items were, the charities in the area, pick up schedules, etc. Right now we have the Salvation Army come out about quarterly to pick up donations. I keep “Charity” boxes in our closets and if we have something we haven’t used in a while, I toss it in the box.
We also have a loose rule of “1 in 1 out.” Meaning if we bring something into our home, we donate something. Donating regularly has served us well. It keeps our home from getting cluttered, it encourages purging, prevents hoarding and discourages materialism.
As my 4-year-old son has gotten older, he has noticed that we do this and has asked about it. I’ve explained to him that we use things for a while and then we pass them along to someone else. Since this is the way it’s always been, he has been very accepting of it. I try not to make a big deal out of it. If he takes something out of a charity box and wants to use it again, I’m fine with that and I would never donate something he’s attached to.
Monthly Kindness Project– I try to be intentional about planning a monthly kindness project for our family. I say intentional because if I’m not intentional about it, time will get away. That being said, I have considerable health problems that limit my abilities and we don’t do something every month.
Some months I’ve been able to plan projects like baking cookies with friends for a local shelter or bringing breakfast to the fire station with our neighbors. Our family has sponsored children for Christmas and Easter. I try to make sure some of the children we serve are around my children’s ages so that they can relate to the child.
We’ve enjoyed organizing drives to collect school supplies, food, shoes, and toys. This past Christmas season, my husband stood with our oldest son and rang the bell for the Salvation Army.
Other months, we’ve donated food or clothing to the ministries at our church. Sometimes I explain the project to our oldest (our youngest is still a baby) and we read stories about helping others. Other times I may forget to explain it but I think children can learn through watching because after all “actions speak louder than words.”
Give Financially– We don’t have a tremendous amount to give but it’s important that we live out Matthew 6:21 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” We give to local churches and charities.
We’ve also enjoyed sponsoring a child internationally and getting pictures of our sponsored child as he has grown over the years. In addition to the monthly commitments we’ve made, we have left money in our giving budget for our kindness projects and to help with needs as they arise.
Last month, along with many others, we were able to give money to assist with housing for a homeless family that was living under a stairwell. I didn’t share this with my son because he is still a bit young but I look forward to him learning more and more as he grows older.
With this money we have set aside each month we have been able to help our infertile friends grow their families, provide gifts to medical funds (both of these are near and dear to my heart since we have been recipients of such gifts) and relief for natural disasters. I’m not talking about a large amount of money but if we budget for giving, we can make a difference.
This life is not our forever home and we can teach this to our children by showing them what we value with our time and resources.
If you found this blog post helpful, please consider making a tax-deductible donation to Act Together Ministries to allow us to continue serving children in need. You can learn more about our work here.
This post was originally published in 2019.