It's the giving season. And if there's one thing we know about working moms, we're givers. In particular, and perhaps contrary to the amount of free time we have, we as a group give back to our communities to a greater degree than do other groups. Supporting an important cause or doing charity work is important to us and our families—but honestly, who has the time? Well, we do, because there are ways to help that are quick and simple, even as they are meaningful.
The holiday season is a wonderful time to impart to our kids the value of lending a helping hand to those less fortunate. "The number one way to engender charitable attitudes and behaviors in children and grandchildren is by talking with them about and modeling kindness and giving," says Claire Costello, national philanthropic practice executive for U.S. Trust.
Best of all, we don't have to go far to give back. Says 14-year-old Max Klein, who, with his twin brother Jake, founded and recently launched Kids That Do Good (kidsthatdogood.com), an online resource for parents and or kids to find reputable charities: "There are so many ways to give back as a family. ... If given just an hour, there are some quick, easy things you can do right outside your front door."
Here, Costello and the Klein brothers share ways your families can give back this holiday season—in an hour or less.
1. Donate toys, clothing and books to local shelters.
If you and your family aren't getting much use out of certain clothes, but they're still in good condition, Costello recommends collecting them and dropping them off at local shelters. The same goes for books you've finished reading and toys your kids have grown tired of.
2. Prepare food for a sick neighbor or a soup kitchen.
If a neighbor is battling an illness, chances are she won't have much energy to cook. In your spare time, Costello suggests whipping themher up a meal (or reserving her a batch of something you already planned on cooking for your family). And while you may not be able to spend an evening volunteering at a soup kitchen, in an hour or less, you could prepare a large batch of food to bring to one.
3. Clean up a favorite park or playground on your next visit there.
You don't have to be part of an environmentalist group to tidy up community spaces. To make taking time to give back easier, Costello suggests building giving into your daily activities. The next time you and your kids take a trip to the playground, bring along some cleaning equipment—trash bags, gloves and such—so you can help clean up the area. You can also use it as a teachable moment to discuss with your kids the importance of respecting the environment.
4. Help elderly neighbors with chores.
Seniors who live alone may need extra assistance, which is why this one is a no-brainer way to give back. In under an hour you and your family could "cut grass, remove snow and/or take out garbage cans for an elderly neighbor," Jake and Max say.
5. Do a small, generous act.
Show your kids that making a difference isn't only about getting involved in big projects or charity work. It can also be as simple as standing up for someone, says Costello. Adds Jake, "Sometimes just being kind or thoughtful is a wonderful way to give. Think of the people around you and what would make them smile."
6. Spread the word about organizations doing great things.
While you may not be able to dedicate a solid chunk of time to do charity work, you can definitely take a few minutes of your day to promote organizations you love. "If you have an organization you support, tell your friends or family about it," Costello says. "Or send an email to co-workers encouraging them to check out the organization and why you love it." Every little bit helps.
Written by Maricar Santos for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.