I was with several parents over the weekend and they began sharing great ideas for kicking off the holiday season that include a dose of giving back. I was startled to learn that in the United States, some reports say that more than 70 percent of holiday gifts end up in a landfill within 6 months. When I pondered this for quite a while, I concluded that I really want the holidays to be a time that has a lifetime impact on our children, and gifts are a large part of the holiday season for children. It is interesting to think about giving or acts of service that can be done, as gifts that won’t fade away with time or with the passing of the holiday season.
With a little bit of Internet research, I was able to find one nonprofit, Heifer International, that for just $10 will allow you to help, by giving a wool sheet to a family. They can use the wool to make clothing and earn income by selling the clothing they make. What a great lesson for any child to learn about how children may live in other countries. This will also have your children consider more thoughtfully about the clothes they wear and the hands that make them. And this perspective can empower your child to know that a single holiday gift, and one that does not cost a lot of money, can clothe an entire family and employ them.
If your child is an animal lover, through the World Wildlife Fund they can learn about all of the endangered species around the world by adopting a tiger, lion or bear for the holidays. It is a great gift to give your child the opportunity to learn about animals across the globe, and what they can do to protect them.
We at Global Language Project have gotten into the spirit of the holidays with our CD, “Coloreando,” which features favorite children songs from Latin America. The artist Marta Gomez was generous enough to contribute her time and talent to the CD because of her strong belief in language learning. All the proceeds from the CD sales allow students who are currently living in poverty to learn a second language, like Spanish. Thus opening their world to endless future professional and academic opportunities, and giving them a skill that can be useful as they grow into adulthood.
There are so many gifts that can be added to the list that will instill in your child the unique commitment and responsibility for giving back to those who are less fortunate as they are, and at the same time, will allow them to have fun and learn while doing good. I once was told that the only way to really own something is to have the ability to give it away. What a memory it will make for your child to give a chance at a new life, or a lasting new opportunity, to another child. Happy holiday shopping!
Angela Jackson is the founder of the Global Language Project, a nonprofit program that teaches youth a second language while preparing them and empowering them to compete in a global workforce. Learn more at www.globallanguageproject.org
Follow Angela Jackson on Twitter at @angjack