Open Your Heart

Open Your Heart this month of December will be focused on the aspect of giving rather than receiving. Turn your Holiday Party into a Toy and Clothing Drive to help those in your community that are in need. 

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A Mommy friend of mine has put together a Holiday Toy Drive of her own! See below!

When: December 11, 2008…10am

Where: Douglas Park, 2439 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, CA US (at the picnic tables)

With all the holiday parties coming up, I thought a nice low key get tog would be fun! I’ll be at one of the picnic benches at the park and will bring some snacks. I am asking everyone to bring a new unwrapped toy for a child age 0-14 for a boy or girl. These toys will go to the Beyond Shelter and St Josepeh’s Center. I will also be taking clothing and other used children items in good shape to go to Baby2Baby (0-4 years). Also, diapers for LA Diaper drive! Please feel free to add any of your friends to the evite. I hope that you can all make it, have some fun and help out some families! I know many of you work or have children in preschool, so if you can’t make it, but would still like to participate in donating something I can pick up your items! Thanks so much and Happy Holidays!

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Look up your local toy drives here:

http://www.secretsanta.org/toysearch.aspx

More info on Baby2Baby:

http://www.baby2baby.org/

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Here are 6 Ways to Get Going on (Guilt-free) Giving! (Source: FamilyEducation.com)

1. Get honest. Okay, so your kids have never seen the inside of a homeless shelter, nor donated a single item for a charity toy drive. Talk about it! “You know, we really haven’t made this a priority as a family, and that was a mistake, so now we’re going to.” Done. Now move on…

2. Remember the 2 Gs: gratitude and giving. “You can’t have one without the other,” says Kendrick. “They go hand in hand.” Giving kids a chance to help others is how they learn to appreciate what they have (and children who appreciate what they have are not only happier people, they are less likely to whine and moan for every last item they see in the mall!)

3. Giving doesn’t begin and end with charity work. Kendrick remembers his grandmother making cookies for the neighbors, which he would then distribute. Jo Ann H. (profiled above) helps her children keep a bird feeder filled throughout the winter. These small acts of kindness are forms of giving that send the same message to children as a trip to a soup kitchen (“Our family cares about others.”)

4. Let kids decide how to give. You may think that helping the homeless or contributing to the fight against cancer are the most important ways to make a difference. Your five-year-old may want to donate more money to the zoo so that the lions will have a bigger supper. The type of giving matters less than the opportunity to empower kids, to let them “own” the act of giving.

5. Be concrete. Dropping coins into a collection box can indeed make a difference, but most young children, rooted in concrete thinking, can’t understand where the money goes beyond the pail. “Take as many steps into the act of giving as you can,” advises Kendrick. In other words, although it’s easier for you to write a check, it’s easier for kids to “see” what they’re doing when they buy items to donate with you, then deliver them to a food bank, and put them directly on the shelves.

6. Give non-material gifts.Making donations is a wonderful way to give, but children can make a valuable contribution just by spending time talking with an elderly neighbor. Make sure they understand the value of “gifts of time” by asking questions like, “Which do you think meant more, the groceries we delivered today or the nice time we had talking with the woman who needed the food?” As Kendrick sees it, those follow-up chats are an “emotional bookmark.” By marking the moment and talking about it with kids, he says, “you’re engraving family currency. Your kid’s picture is on the currency. And you’re giving them a chance to spend it, to give themselves away.”

How do you and your family practice the art of giving during the holiday season? Let us know if you have any suggestions or ideas on how to get your children involved!

Happy Holidays!

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