Get Into Giving

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Find more about Christmas, inspired ideas

"Did you see this?" 7-year-old Henry asks, squealing with excitement as he points to a shiny new toy in a catalog that he found in our pile of mail.

"Circle it!" Julia, 9, commands.

This materialistic activity, which consists of circling coveted toys in catalogs, has become a regular activity around our house this holiday season. As I glance at all the play things they have already, I have to stifle a "Where did I go wrong?" groan.

Hiding all the toy catalogs the next day only makes me feel like the Grinch with a wig, and I'm stumped over how can I help our children experience how wonderful it feels to give to others.

We turn to Uncle Kory, Julia and Henry's big-hearted uncle who is a director for the United Way. "There are some amazing programs out there that offer great ways to engage Henry and Julia at a level that they can understand and identify with," he assures me.

With his guidance, I connect with The Salvation Army for information on their "Stocking Program," where we'd help fill red mesh stockings with small items for children and the elderly. I also volunteer us to decorate soft teddy bears to be given to needy children for the "Project of Love" program.

After school one day, I carefully explain to Julia and Henry that some families don't have money to buy new things for Christmas, but that we can help out by filling stockings and decorating bears for them.

I pause as I wait for their response to the activity, which I know will prevent them from playing with friends for a couple afternoons. Far from being disappointed, their faces light up with smiles.

Later, as I watch Henry carefully fastening a miniature Red Sox cap to a bear and Julia creating a halo of tiny flowers to crown hers, I feel like the Grinch again — only this time it's the moment his heart grows three sizes.

For more ideas or to connect with an opportunity in your community, contact www.volunteersolutions.org.

How do you teach your kids the meaning of giving? Click the comments link below to find and share your ideas.

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