I haven’t talked a ton about this on here, but I’m starting my fourth year as a Girl Scout Leader this year. I’m also active in our church, and am in a shared teaching position in our Sunday School for 1st and 2nd grades. One thing I have learned from the kids I am around in these activities is that they all want to do for others. All of them. I’ve yet to meet a kid who showed no interest in doing something for someone else. Given an opportunity, the kids will run with an idea.
My Scouts, Brownies this year, were all very into animals. We’d voted around the holidays to give back to an organization to help families, but the girls had all expressed wanting to do something for animals. We quickly realized this was going to be a way for the girls to not only be able to learn about giving back, but also to learn about the care and keeping of pets, a little more about Philanthropy, and help them to earn not one but 2 patches for their sashes in the process.
We discussed together as a group what we’d like to do, specifically, and the girls came to the agreement that they wanted to do a drive with boxes around our town to collect pet food, towels and blankets for the Humane Society. We talked with them about what we needed to do, how to accomplish that, and the girls set to work making some posters to hang with the boxes we’d be putting up around our school and at the town library.
We left our donation boxes out for 3 weeks around town. The result was that the entire back of the 2014 Toyota Sienna was FULL of wonderful, amazing donations…. more animals would have full bellies, and a comfortable place to rest their head, and 19 Brownie Girl Scouts (plus 3 4 year old Scout siblings) learned a whole lot about ways that kids can help give back.
My heart was bursting with pride for my girls when we arrived to drop off the donations and the staff had to go get a second cart to wheel our donations inside!
Teaching kids about giving back doesn’t have to be a somber, serious experience. I wish I had pictures of the posters the girls made…. fun, bright colors, sparkles…hand drawn pictures of animals… letting them have a little creative license helped them to feel like they had a BIG say in the whole process, and letting them choose who they’d give back to really empowered them as well. Several, including my oldest, asked friends for food donations in lieu of presents at their birthday parties (seems to be a growing trend with this class, and it’s so sweet). They had a BLAST planning, organizing and collecting the items needed, and were all left feeling like they really were able to make a difference.
Find something that kids can relate to- at holiday time- perhaps a gift drive. Mitten trees are pretty easy and someone always needs warm gear in cold months. There are SO many things that kids can do for so many recipients- talk to the kids you are with, and ask them questions. I’m wagering you’ll be quite pleasantly surprised to see just how eager they are to give back.
How do you go about teaching kids to give back?
Thanks to Toyota for the use of the fabulous 2014 Toyota Sienna. The trunk has more cargo space than my 2004 Sienna and we were able to make the donation delivery in much greater comfort.