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The mad rush to buy holiday gifts has begun. We have been getting bombarded with emails and commercials about Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Stop. Take a mindful deep breath. There is more to the holiday season than shopping, spending, and stressing. Why not gather your family together for some holiday volunteer opportunities?
What Is Giving Tuesday?
This special day is focused on giving. Giving Tuesday is a global day for sending charitable donations to organizations of your choice. This social media campaign was initiated in 2012 by the cultural center 92nd Street Y in New York City in partnership with the United Nations Foundation. Tens of thousands of nonprofits, businesses, civic organizations, and individuals from nearly 100 countries come together to make real change happen in their communities and around the world.
Celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving. Since it began, Giving Tuesday has become a movement that celebrates and supports giving and philanthropy.
It is so wonderful that this day has been created to highlight the importance of charitable donations for organizations supporting those in need. Giving Tuesday is responsible for increasing online donations by 470 percent!
How To Celebrate With Family Volunteer Opportunities
As parents, we can use this opportunity to teach our children about the importance of giving and helping others. Here are some ways your family can celebrate Giving Tuesday:
- Explain what it means to be compassionate. Teach your children about compassion by reading Wee Walk In Someone Else’s Shoes.
- Discuss how they can help. Find a few minutes during the ride home from school or at dinner to ask your children who they would like to help. Provide some options like babies, animals, people without homes, children who do not have families, students who need books, or the elderly. Brainstorm some places where you can send a donation. Check out these resources for charity ideas. Let them send the actual donation online so that they can experience the act of giving firsthand.
- Teach your children how to balance giving with receiving. Review these lessons with your children, especially as you prepare for the holiday season.
- Talk about the importance of charitable giving. Enjoy reading Fred Rogers’ The Giving Box together. Then create or purchase your own giving box for each child. Ask them to set goals about how much they would like to give next year and who they want to help. Check in weekly or monthly throughout the year to see how close they are to reaching their goal.
- Make your own giving box. Here are some great ideas for making your own charitable collection box that your kids will love.
- Commit to volunteer work throughout the year. This is a wonderful opportunity to also decide where your family can volunteer together. Learn how to choose the best volunteer activities for your family.
Featured Charities 2019
This is the fifth year that I have published a post about Giving Tuesday. Every year I like to highlight some of my favorite charities that I hope you will consider supporting. This year I am shining the spotlight on organizations focused on children’s mental health.
National Alliance on Mental Illness: NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness including anxiety. It consists of hundreds of NAMI State Organizations, NAMI Affiliates, and volunteer leaders who work in local communities to raise awareness and provide essential and free education, advocacy, and support group programs.
National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health: This is a national family-run organization linking more than 120 chapters and state organizations focused on the issues of children and youth with emotional, behavioral, or mental health needs and their families. It serves to provide advocacy at the national level for the rights of children and youth with emotional, behavioral and mental health challenges and their families; provide leadership and technical assistance to a nation-wide network of family run organizations; and collaborate with family run and other child serving organizations to transform mental health care in America.
Child Mind Institute: This is a national nonprofit dedicated to transforming the lives of children and families struggling with mental health and learning disorders. Their teams work every day to deliver the highest standards of care; advance the science of the developing brain; and empower parents, professionals, and policymakers to support children when and where they need it most.
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: AFSP is a voluntary health organization that gives those affected by suicide a nationwide community empowered by research, education, and advocacy to take action against this leading cause of death. AFSP is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide. AFSP creates a culture that’s smart about mental health by engaging in the following core strategies: funding scientific research, educating the public about mental health and suicide prevention, advocating for public policies in mental health and suicide prevention, and supporting survivors of suicide loss and those affected by suicide in our mission.
How will you support Giving Tuesday as a family?