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5 Ways for Kids to Give Back During the Holidays


Get your kids involved in giving back this holiday season!

By Karen Evans, Editor & Publisher of Macaroni Kid Ferndale

I recently participated in a Facebook conversation around the idea of what Santa Claus means to those who include him in their holiday traditions, and there was a lot of concern around the topic of the holidays becoming too much about "getting stuff." Right after that, I read an article about what happens when kids become overwhelmed by too many toys (and in searching for that article, I came across one from 1988! about the same topic -- this is definitely not a new concern!)

That inspired this list of ways that we -- parents and caregivers right here in the Royal Oak/Ferndale area -- can give back to our community and involve our kids in a conversation about the bright parts of the season that are present regardless of your faith background: warmth, tradition, love and kindness

Santa's Helper: If you celebrate Christmas, have your kids pick out toys they want to give away, and pack them in a sack for Santa to take with him when he visits your home. If your children receive presents from you and/or relatives in addition to presents from Santa, you can explain that the toys you are giving to Santa will be given in addition to Santa gifts to kids whose parents cannot afford extra presents.

Donate Toys: If your kids are older, you don't celebrate Christmas, or you are worried that the full Santa sack would be discovered before you can donate the toys, involve your kids in identifying toys to give away, and taking them to be donated. Judson Center's Thrifty Boutique is a great place to consider. The Thrifty Boutique accepts gently used men's, women's and children's apparel, along with toys, books, small housewares and videos. Proceeds benefit the Judson Center's Supportive Employment Program, which provides job training and placement for adults with developmental disabilities and physical impairments.

Shop and Give Back: If you or your kids still have gifts to purchase, consider making a purchase that benefits others, and explain to your child how that works. For example, take the grandparents for ice cream at Nice Modern Creamery to benefit their #cupforcup initiative, or purchase a handcrafted item from Gallery U Boutique in Royal Oak to support the efforts of patients going through traumatic brain injury rehabilitation treatment (the patients both run the store and create some of the artwork).

Make a Donation: If your child has his/her own Christmas money to spend, they can donate even a little bit to local causes such as the Ferndale Catfe, South Oakland Shelter, and others.

Lend a Hand: There are many opportunities for your family to gather around helping others. For instance, kids can help re-pack food donations into family-size portions at Forgotten Harvest in Oak Park. Or they can help gather donations for the South Oakland Citizens for the Homeless Welcome Inn warming centers, or even gather their friends together and spend a morning making sack lunches for the warming centers (call ahead to see what the needs are).

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