My friends Mary & Lauren have been doing a thoughtful family project to help people that are homeless. They help their children decorate lunch bags with cheerful pictures, then they fill the bags with nonperishable snacks like granola bars, raisins, peanut butter crackers, pretzels, juice boxes... When they drive past a homeless person asking for money, they share one of their bags of goodies.
This would also be an easy project to do with a class or afterschool club, and you can engage children ages 2-22. It's a safe and simple way to help people in need. It teaches your children to recognize people that are in need, and find ways to help. It encourages your children to be creative. It helps families combat the me-me-me attitude that creeps up on all of us.
Research says that there are 40 developmental assets (building blocks) that all kids need to succeed. This project helps to build at least 10 of those assets:
*Adult role models. Parent(s) and other adults model positive, responsible behavior.
*Caring. Young person places high value on helping other people.
*Creative activities. Young person spends three or more hours per week in lessons or practice in music, theatre, or other arts.
*Cultural competence. Young person has knowledge of and comfort with people of different cultural/racial/ethnic backgrounds.
*Equality and social justice. Young person places high value on promoting equality and reducing hunger and poverty.
*Interpersonal competence. Young person has empathy, sensitivity, and friendship skills.
*Planning and decision making. Young person knows how to plan ahead and make choices.
*Responsibility. Young person accepts and takes personal responsibility.
*Service to others. Young person feels safe at home, school, and in the neighborhood.
*Youth as resources. Young people are given useful roles in the community.
I'd love to hear about simple ways you've seen children help people in need! You can email me at ann(at)theassetedge(dot)net or simply leave a comment below.