Friday, 7 February 2014

How Do You Empower Your Children to Give Back?

How do You Empower Your Children to Give Back?
I feel that it is the responsibility of parents to not only love and raise their children well, but to also to empower to be socially responsible and for them to give back to their community.  As a society we can help improve our community with not only money, but with our time...something that seems to be the most precious commodity of all.  

I have been volunteering with the TDSB since I was a teenager.  I started volunteering in a school's student publishing company where I helped students from kindergarten to grade 8 write and publish their own stories to be showcased in their school library.  While in University I volunteered with adult ESL students, and I even taught a few cooking classes in North American cuisine.  It was wonderful to see their faces when they first tasted Apple Crumble.  I have been the Chair of the Parent Councils at my children’s schools.  Throughout the years I have involved my family as much as I could. My children have been volunteering since they were toddlers.  They helped at Movie Nights, Fun Fairs, Activity Nights, Education Days and countless other fundraising events at their own and their siblings’ schools.

I volunteered for seven years in my children’s kindergarten classes.  I went in at least two times a week to work with the students who needed extra help and assist the teacher during classes. I spent the next four years going into the school two times a week to read with the students who were considered “at risk” of failing. Teachers would call me when they didn’t have enough parent volunteers for their fieldtrips, even when my children weren’t in their current class. I had hoped that if my children saw me donating as much time as I did, that they would learn about the importance of helping others.  Leading by example seems to work for me.

We have been involved in several food drives for specific families in our area. We have done clothing drives for some Romanian Newcomer families and for a few families who lost everything to fires. My children collected clothes, books and toys that they wanted to donate and we boxed them according to size for the families. And when we didn’t have anyone specific to give the items to, we donated the items to Goodwill, so that others could benefit.

We raised money for a friend of my eldest daughter who found out that she had cancer. We raised enough money to buy her an iPad, so she could communicate with her classmates by Skype while she was in the hospital.

We used to foster cats that were rescued from a high-kill shelter until one foster cat came in that was infected with feline leukemia and we lost several cats. The cats had all been vaccinated prior to coming into my home, but somehow it was still contagious. It was a horrible event. We found homes for the remaining cats and didn’t take any new foster cats. It was just too difficult to foster anymore.  All of our pets in our house are rescues from shelters and each and every one of them has been neutered or spayed as we don’t want to be responsible for overpopulation. We have tried to teach our children that animals deserve our respect and that they are not disposable.
Foster Animals to be Socially Responsible
Our Foster Animals Got Along Well

We were also involved in the beautification of our local park. Children had stopped using the park because it was in such disrepair and the equipment was quite old and rusty. We held a number of fundraisers in order to raise money to put in a new slide, swings, ride-on toys, and climbing cage as well as putting in new landscaping for the benefit of the neighbourhood. My children sold raffle tickets, food and drinks, and they hosted games for the children. They put in countless hours into rebuilding this park, with no benefit to themselves, apart from the fact that they know that they are helping their community.

I think that by volunteering and participating in community events they will become healthy, well-adjusted and productive adults. I want to teach my children that charity is a way of being, and that they have the power to make the world better through simple acts of caring. I love the quote from Helen Keller, “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something, and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.”