Ever since I can remember, my parents participated in sponsoring individuals or families in need around Christmas time. We would all go shopping for necessities such as jackets, gloves, socks, and toiletries. From a very young age, I can recall thinking it was awful that some people didn’t have the basics that I so easily took for granted. It never occurred to me that I should consider having winter boots in the right size or toothpaste to put on my toothbrush to be blessings, but while out shopping for those in need, I quickly realized that they most certainly were.
These are priceless lessons that I learned in my youth that I am eternally grateful to my parents for teaching me. And now as a new mom, there are many values I hope to instill in my daughter that she can one day look back on and appreciate, too. This is why, at just shy of one year old, I am intentionally involving her in our holiday traditions that allow us to give back. While she may not know exactly what is going on, her ever-growing mind is a sponge, and I can’t think of a better way to begin teaching her how to be compassionate towards others.
As sponsoring individuals or families became so important to me as a child, I still participate every year through Operation Hope’s, “Hope for the Holiday” program. In order to get the best steals and deals, for many years my husband and I would go shopping to fulfill the wish lists on Black Friday. Now, since Black Friday is hardly the ideal shopping environment for an infant, we decided to start some of our shopping early to allow for our daughter to come along. She has an adorable obsession with socks and tags, so not surprisingly, she had a blast! Before we began, I briefly explained to her that we needed her help selecting some items for people who truly needed them. My husband placed a few options on her lap and we let her pick the color or print of a specific “wished for” item. While we didn’t purchase everything we intend to with her that day, her first experience in helping others was most definitely a success!
We also plan to have our daughter help with selecting non-perishable items for two local food drives: one that is organized by my office, and the other that is run through our church. This effort will most likely look similar to her shopping for the clothing items, and I am sure she will enjoy it just the same.
As it does every year, it feels so good to bring holiday cheer to those who need it most, but with my daughter present to aid in the effort, the experience carries a much deeper meaning. To know that I am able to share traditions with her that have been such a huge part of my life for many years truly is amazing. Her excitement and involvement at this young age brought such joy to my husband and me, and I can’t wait to see what her reaction is next year!
If you are interested in sponsoring an individual this holiday season through Operation Hope’s, “Hope for the Holidays” program, please contact Evie at [email protected].
What ways do you plan to teach your young children about compassion and helping others this holiday season?