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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I would like to "adopt" a local child or family this year with my dd for the holidays. My dd is definitley spoiled in the sense that she gets lots of gifts from all sides of the family, and so i'd like to start early on the giving aspect, and not just to our family.<br><br>
Dd will be 3.5 at Christmas time, and is pretty sensitive and empathic. I want to present the idea of helping a family in a way that wont' be scary to her (as in, it could happen to us; which of course, it could but i don't need her to worry about that). she asks lots of questions. If i say, "Dd, we're going to help a family this Christmas- would you like to help me buy some presents for another little girl?"<br>
she would prob. ask: why do they need help? and i'm not sure how to answer...I could try and leave it as just the "spirit of giving" at the holidays and we're going to give to x family, but i know the questions will come.<br><br>
if you do this, what do you say? how do your kids handle it?<br><br>
tia-
 

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I have talked with DD since she was 3 (maybe younger?) about helping others. We donate to the food bank, my work relates to helping people in need, we do boxes for samaritan's purse at christmas, I donate monthly to unicef... Last year we adopted a family at christmas (single mom, 3 kids, 13, 4and baby).<br><br>
I really do believe we're part of our local community and the global community. I notice homeless people, or mentally ill people and often end up chatting with them on the street or sighing sadly if we're in the car. DD has always asked about this and I've been honest. Not everyone has the things we have - some don't have enough to eat, toys, shoes without holes etc. Some children don't have dads, and some families can't find work or are too sick/disabled to work. It is very sad and we need to accept them and help them - the world is full of people who are different than we are, and the same (all people should have food, clothes, toys, security...). When DD was younger she did inquire about her/our security, and we reassured her that we were fortunate to have the means to meet our needs, and we talked about mom and dad, but also our extended family who love us.<br><br>
DD is very empathetic; DS not so much. At preschool they're doing the samaritan's purse boxes that go to developing countries. DS walked out telling me "these are for people who live in another place who don't even have rooms of their own to live in, and maybe don't have enough to eat, and don't have soap to wash themselves!...It's really quite sad when you think about it...I hope my teachers have a box big enough to send them a bathtub!"<br><br>
I think it's a powerful message to send to kids that they can change the world a little bit (sharing and thinking of others), and can be done in a way that is not threatening to them but also encourages appreciation for what they have and caring for others.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>newmainer</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/6476336"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I would like to "adopt" a local child or family this year with my dd for the holidays. My dd is definitley spoiled in the sense that she gets lots of gifts from all sides of the family, and so i'd like to start early on the giving aspect, and not just to our family.</div>
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How are you going to adopt this family? Will you know who receives the gifts and will they know you are giving them? Because that could be humiliating.<br><br>
Maybe it would be better to adopt a charity that disburses presents. Most transitional housing providers do gifts, and they have guidelines for new toys. Then your family will know what kind of people will receive help, in a general way (a family with a child your age) but not the specifics of the family.<br>
The recipients will know that someone cared enough to help.<br><br>
I think it's hard to walk the fine line between making a human connection to someone in need--which is a good thing to do, clearly--and embarrassing them.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>captain optimism</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/6477414"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">How are you going to adopt this family? Will you know who receives the gifts and will they know you are giving them? Because that could be humiliating.<br><br>
Maybe it would be better to adopt a charity that disburses presents. Most transitional housing providers do gifts, and they have guidelines for new toys. Then your family will know what kind of people will receive help, in a general way (a family with a child your age) but not the specifics of the family.<br>
The recipients will know that someone cared enough to help.<br><br>
I think it's hard to walk the fine line between making a human connection to someone in need--which is a good thing to do, clearly--and embarrassing them.</div>
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I have adopted families before. There is generally a charity who takes families, has them fill in their ages, sizes and a couple of needs on cards and hangs them on holiday trees. People then pick out cards of families they want to buy for, buy the presents and leave them at customer service. It is completely anonymous on the donor end but you get to buy for "specific" families (like I could buy for a family with a DD the same age as Sophie). I like doing that because it is easier for me to envision a child of a particular age receiving the present then some random kid.<br><br>
My DD is too young to worry about this I think so I am watching for other responses.
 

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My DD is 5 and we just tell her that some people don't have as much as others and that it is nice to help others. She is older though and sees the homeless and is able to understand some.<br><br>
Last year and the year before DH organized the Christmas Program where he used to work. So DD knew there were families who could not afford to buy their kids presents. She enjoyed seeing all the gifts and thinking about other kids and how much they would enjoy the toys, etc.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>lalaland42</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/6478189"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I have adopted families before. There is generally a charity who takes families, has them fill in their ages, sizes and a couple of needs on cards and hangs them on holiday trees. People then pick out cards of families they want to buy for, buy the presents and leave them at customer service. It is completely anonymous on the donor end but you get to buy for "specific" families (like I could buy for a family with a DD the same age as Sophie). I like doing that because it is easier for me to envision a child of a particular age receiving the present then some random kid.<br><br>
My DD is too young to worry about this I think so I am watching for other responses.</div>
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This sounds like a really cool program.<br><br>
My guess is that Sophie will understand it in the same way that you do--there's a little girl my age whose parents don't have money to buy her things they'd like her to have, so we are going to send her some presents.<br><br>
(As long as you don't do Santa!)<br><br>
My son is the same age and he has started asking me questions about where babies come from and what happens to people when they die.
 

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We have been on the receiving end of the program, when our youngest spent so much time in the hospital. I have to say that it made a HUGE difference for my children, and for us. We are not a "poor" family, not homeless, not mentally ill -- but we were a family in need. This year, we are very much looking forward to reciprocating, and ds wants to bring toys to the children and families who must spend the holidays at the hospital.<br><br>
I would say to try hard not to make judgements about the families you want to help, especially if you don't know their circumstances. Help is great, pity is not.
 

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My younger son's school does a community service day. Each class picks an area of need in the community and volunteers to help.<br><br>
This year, we are going to serve the homeless at the local shelter.<br><br>
I talk to my children all the time about how blessed we are and how it's important to give to others.
 

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Our church has the St. Vincent de Paul Fund, which gives out Thanksgiving dinners (and I think Christmas dinners, plus maintains a food bank) and an Angel Tree with age, gender, sizes and one toy request on it. It's for people in the parish area, but they don't have to be members of the parish to be helped. Anyways, we do both and plan on telling dd that some parents don't have money to buy food, gifts or clothes for their children, so we help out.<br><br>
This year, we plan on picking out a child dd's age (2) and a teenager (since they are the ones usually left on the tree.) In coming years, we plan to let the children pick they child they want.
 

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Don't forget that there are a lot of MDC mamas and families in need this year that need assitance. You can click on the link in my sig. or go directly to the site <a href="http://www.spatulagirl.com/holidayhelper/" target="_blank">http://www.spatulagirl.com/holidayhelper/</a> and click on "go help." The states are listed so you could find one in your state if you want. You and your daughter could read the stories, and she could see if there is someone her age that she would like to help.<br><br>
I think explaining that there are some people who don't have everything they need or want and that they need help from others is a good way to start.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>snuggly mama</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/6479418"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">We have been on the receiving end of the program, when our youngest spent so much time in the hospital. I have to say that it made a HUGE difference for my children, and for us. We are not a "poor" family, not homeless, not mentally ill -- but we were a family in need. This year, we are very much looking forward to reciprocating, and ds wants to bring toys to the children and families who must spend the holidays at the hospital.<br><br>
I would say to try hard not to make judgements about the families you want to help, especially if you don't know their circumstances. Help is great, pity is not.</div>
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For us, it's not about pity - it's about social justice. I fundamentally believe that every human has the right to enough food, a change or two of clothes that fit them, security, a place to sleep, some of what they need to fulfill/inspire/relieve them (be that toys, books, a hobby, a place of worship, productive engagement...whatever). I think for a culture so wealthy we've done a piss poor job of redistribution to the point of meeting even basic needs of all citizens, never mind on an international level (and I'm not actually making any kind of socialist comment here).<br><br>
In my post above when I mentioned the homeless and mentally ill I was using that as an example of the way I demonstrate on a regular basis an acceptance of others who appear different from us and try to instill in my children a notion of thankfulness, helpfulness and humanity-in-common. I do as I say <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile">. I apologize if that came across as being judgemental or stereotyping of those who are in need, whether temporarily or longer term.<br><br>
The whole christmas giving to others thing is part of the broader notion that some portion of your income should go to others/charity. At christmas, which can be a time of such rampant consumerism, it's an opportunity to demonstrate in a "real" way to children that they are a) fortunate and should be thankful (maybe a few less "I want..."); and b) powerful - they can change the world, even if it's for one child that's ## old like them.
 

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We have taken gift bags to the local children's hospital.
 

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I'm such a good communicator IRL, but I sometimes don't do so well on the boards <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/redface.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Embarrassment"> I didn't think anyone who had posted was being judgmental at all, or pitying either. I commend everyone who is introducing their children to the concept of giving and helping others at such a young age. I wanted to let everyone know it meant so much to us as a family to be the recipients of such kindness and compassion -- knowing that people are passing that on to their children makes me feel really good.<br><br>
We weren't always in need -- when the kids were younger we often participated in clothing drives, food drives, etc. It was strange to be on the other side of that for a while. We are so looking forward to offering another family the chance at a happy holiday, despite their circumstances.
 

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There is an "adopt a family" in my local community too. It's anonomys but you get a family and are told ages, wish list and general interests.<br><br>
It's fun to pick out things for a particular family.<br><br>
I have always told my dd, that we are lucky and have more things than some people and that some can't afford to buy the things we do. They accpeted this simple explanation at an early age.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
thanks for all the replies. i'm not sure where the impression of judgement came in...i don't think i said anything in my original post- or anyone else- about judging any family, in need or not. i just wanted to know what's the best way to explain to a 3 yo about others in need without scaring her. We've had a big year of transition- a new baby brother, my FIL was in a major car accident, we're moving, etc... and i dont' 'want to add on top of that a reality that might be too much for her right now. she thinks about things *a lot* and asks lots of questions. so, anyway, i'll leave it at that.<br><br>
i understand about protecting peoples' dignity... i was going to go through a program that would match us to a family- or pick a card off a tree, etc... yes, i am going to help through MDC but i specifically wanted to do a local family and have dd a part of the gathering and wrapping etc... i think i'll just keep my explanations simple and see where it goes.
 

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I think I know what you mean. I don't think it will necessarily scare your DD, though. By age three, most kids have at least some awareness that not everyone lives exactly like they do. For us at least, it's very important that DS know that not everyone is as fortunate as he and that because of that it's important to help those who aren't as well off. We try to infuse this value throughout our life.<br><br>
We talk a lot (well, it comes up several times a week in different ways) with DS about how not everyone has as much as we do. I think it probably started when we dropped something off for the food bank (there's a drop spot outside our grocery store) and explained to DS that not everyone could afford to buy enough food for their family. When we see a homeless person, we'll talk about how it's sad that not everyone has a home. If we're giving money to someone, we'll often have DS hand them the money. Before birthdays or gift-giving holidays, we'll clean out some of his toys and talk about giving them to some other family where the kids don't have as many toys, and isn't it nice that your old toys can help someone who needs it? At Christmas time, we always adopt a family or a few needy children off of a local giving tree, and we have DS help us choose things for the family or children.<br><br>
He's never seemed scared by talking about this. It seems like you think your daughter might be worried for your family, though, so why not just talk to her about it? You can mention that you're really lucky that right now you have enough to be able to help someone else out and so on. I'd try to be careful to not reassure too much, though, because that can scare kids more. If someone is too reassuring about something that wasn't worrying you, it's really easy to start thinking it's something you do need to worry about, if you know what I mean!
 

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My dd is also starting to really "get" the importance of giving. We donate quite a bit - I try to point out to her what she has also received from others. It usually natually comes up: that she has been the receiver of hand-me-downs really helps <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/winky.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Wink"> Right now I dont think dd sees a difference between having things we dont need and money we dont need.<br><br>
A bit off topic - but I work with needy children every day as part of my job. When dd has asked what I do, I have tried to keep it simple "mama talks to a judge and helps kids". She is NOT okay with sharing mama right now <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/gloomy.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Gloomy">: so I am really sensitive to this issue of sharing.<br><br>
I dont tell her about how other kids dont have so much, but more about how we dont need all that we have and sometimes other people give to us, too. I like to think more in terms of sharing than about giving, if that make sense. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/shy.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="innocent">
 
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