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Giving The Gift of Giving

New Year, new traditions. We’ve been talking about ways we can enrich our children’s giving experiences and introduce them to the world of helping others. Charitable birthdays have been a favorite, but what about other children in our lives that we love and care about? Your son’s bff since preschool, your best friend’s daughter, your godchild, niece/nephew, grandchild, neighbor, college roommate’s kid, etc. While it might not be our responsibility to rear these children, we might play a significant role in their lives – and in their families. It takes a village, right? And we do have a responsibility to positively influence children that are part of our lives. Think about the adults that you looked up to when you were a child. Who were they and what did you learn from them? Think about the children in your life that look up to you.

New Year, new traditions. We’ve been talking about ways we can enrich our children’s giving experiences and introduce them to the world of helping others. Charitable birthdays have been a favorite, but what about other children in our lives that we love and care about? Your son’s bff since preschool, your best friend’s daughter, your godchild, niece/nephew, grandchild, neighbor, college roommate’s kid, etc. While it might not be our responsibility to rear these children, we might play a significant role in their lives – and in their families. It takes a village, right? And we do have a responsibility to positively influence children that are part of our lives. Think about the adults that you looked up to when you were a child. Who were they and what did you learn from them? Think about the children in your life that look up to you.

These special children, like your own little budding philanthropists, have birthdays each year. Picking out a special present for these near-and-dear children can be fun, but for those of us who value giving, it can seem like a waste of money and a missed opportunity. So how can we take advantage of our roles as mentors and add value to these young loved ones’ holidays, birthdays and lives with a little lesson in giving?

We love the idea of making a donation in the name of someone we love. But this can be intangible for children and doesn’t allow them to be actively involved in selecting the donation recipient and physically make the give, both important lessons in teaching children about giving.

Enter, Charity Check$. We recently came across this nonprofit organization and love the opportunity it provides. Basically, you purchase a gift certificate and present it to your special birthday girl/boy and he/she gets to select the nonprofit they wish to give it to and deliver it.

Here’s how it works. Your niece’s birthday is coming up and instead of buying her another doll/bike/coloring book/dress/pony (kidding)/art set, you’d prefer to share with her the experience of giving to others, so you:

  1. Order. Go to the Charity Check$ website. Select the value ($25-$250) of the Charity Check you’d like to purchase. (Keep in mind that they are delivered via Priority Mail which typically takes two to three days. Overnight delivery is available.)
  2. Wrap and Give. Once you receive the Charity Check, wrap it up in a box. Include a personal note explaining why you picked this gift and how it works so your niece (and her parents) understands your intentions in case you’re not there when it is opened. Consider getting creative – see idea below**.  Charity Check$ will also provide instructions.
  3. Add a little sercy … also known as a gift for no reason. When you wrap the gift, include a little something extra in the wrapping as a topper like a lip gloss, mini bubble bath, candy or other trinket that you know your niece would enjoy, just because.
  4. The Gift of Giving. Your niece then has the opportunity to give her birthday gift to an organization of her choice. Tell her to think about a cause she would like to support, write the name of the nonprofit on the payable line, and then ask her parents to help her mail, or even better, hand deliver the check to that organization. Remind her of the difference she’s making for someone else.

Let us know what you think or if you have other ideas for ‘giving the gift of giving’ – we’d love to hear them!

**To help your gift recipient understand why you chose this for their gift, try including a personal explanation or poem with the instructions.

Happy Birthday!

Because you are so special, I knew you wouldn’t mind –
If we shared your birthday, because you are so kind.

Perhaps its homeless animals or children needing a lift,
You can pick who you’d like to help, through this little gift.

So look around and search your heart – about what do you care?
Who’s in need? How can you help? — With whom will you share?

And you should be proud of the difference you will make,
By helping those with needs on the day you get your cake.

Read more:

Charity Checks: Giving Tradition’ – Huffington Post