How to Encourage Kids to Give Back on Giving Tuesday

The last of the leftover turkey has been transformed into sandwiches and soup, and the Black Friday haul sits in the closet, away from prying eyes. Now that families across America have given thanks for what they have and gone to the store for what they don’t, it’s time for the next unofficial holiday: Giving Tuesday. First started in 2011 by the 92nd Street Y in New York City, Giving Tuesday has taken on a life of its own. Last year, about 4 million people donated a total of $380 million dollars on the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving. But while it’s easy to assume that Giving Tuesday is only for adults with bank accounts, it’s never too early to teach the spirit of giving to children!

Giving Thanks and Giving Back

Ask a child what Thanksgiving is for and they’ll tell you that it’s a day to be thankful. Most of the kids we know are eager to offer up why they’re thankful this year, whether for their friends or pets or favorite toys.  Explain to them that there are people in the world who don’t have all of the wonderful things that you and your family do—that not everybody has as much to be thankful for. Fairness is important to children, as any parent or teacher who’s ever heard “That’s not fair!” from their class can attest. Tell them that they have the power to help make things for fair for other kids who don’t have tasty Thanksgiving dinners to eat or cool toys to play with. They could be heroes to kids just like them!

Clear It Out

Help your children look for books or toys that they’ve outgrown and find a good home for them. Thrift and consignment shops, family shelters, and other similar organizations are always looking for items like these. Kids may be hesitant to part with books or toys that they once loved, even if they haven’t picked them up in years. Let them lead the way in choosing what they’re willing to donate, and you may find that next time around, their donation pile will be even bigger. Clearing out old books and toys makes way for new holiday presents—and hours of fun for the kids who receive them!

Now that Thanksgiving is over, you can also hunt through your pantry for nonperishable goods to donate to local food pantries!

Go Shopping

Don’t have many unwanted items around the house? Go shopping! Give kids a shopping list scavenger hunt (with supervision, of course) to put together bags or kits to donate. One great idea? Hygiene bags with items like travel-sized deodorant, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, and wipes. Kids might like finding the fun miniature items! Several food banks have a Weekend Backpack program in which backpacks full of single-serving food items go home with kids over the weekend. That way, no student has to go hungry. Look up the recommended donations for your local food pantry and let your kid help choose some tasty food.

No time hit the shops? Let kids help decide where your family’s Giving Tuesday money goes. Talk about causes that matter to you. Maybe they want to help other children, or a local community organization that they love, or they’re animal lovers.  When kids get a say in where some of their parents’ donations go, they’ll grow up with a healthy sense of commitment to charity.

Get Organized

With a little planning, you and your kids can organize something bigger in time for next Giving Tuesday! Here are just a few suggestions for ways kids can see through a long-term plan to give back:

  • We all know plenty of kids who sing, take dance or martial arts classes, take music lessons, or have other talents. Put together a neighborhood talent show as a nonperishable food drive for the community!
  • Start a magazine, toy, or coat drive! Set up a box at your child’s school or community organization (let them decorate the box as they please!) to receive donations from other families. There’s so much more to give when many families work together! Our Cricket family has donated old magazines to, an organization that delivers magazines to families in need to encourage literacy skills.
  • Donate hair! Your child probably already knows at least one classmate who has donated to Wigs for Kids, Pantene Beautiful Lengths, Locks of Love, or other organizations that create wigs for kids who don’t have hair of their own. This obviously takes some preparation—hair doesn’t grow on trees!—but kids get very excited about the Big Chop!
  • Host a bake sale to benefit a cause that matters to you and your kids!
  • Clean up a local park– or even plant some trees!
  • Make blankets or treats for a local animal shelter. You can even throw a party to make personalized presents for dogs!

How do your kids like to give back to their communities? We’d love to hear more suggestions from you!