Well,Then is the online community of Harvard Pilgrim. In video blogs and blog posts people share ideas and experiences under the following categories:
Live with Cancer.
Connect with Family.
Live with Heart Disease.
Live with Asthma.
I learned about Well,Then when I was asked to create posts on the site about giving back. (Just so you know, in exchange for my participation I received a teeny-tiny bit of compensation.)
Giving back is something I practice as much as possible, so I was especially pleased to be asked to do posts on this topic from November 15 until the end of December. I thought I’d share one of the posts I created for well, then – Giving Is a Family Affair. Because the winter holiday season is a time when many people try to give back, it seems appropriate to share this post with readers of this, my personal blog.
Giving is a Family Affair
As I’ve expressed in my other posts on well, then, giving and volunteering are core values that I hold. These values I consciously decided to pass on to my children as they were growing up. Not only did I model to them the practice of volunteering and giving, I also found opportunities for us to volunteer as a family.
Both my son and daughter volunteer as adults. My daughter has worked on play-ground builds, participated in walkathons, and sorted clothes at a clothing bank recently. My son did voter registration and organizing in the Mississippi Delta.
One of the first ways I began to teach them about the importance of giving to others was by having them give their excess books, toys and clothes to a local shelter and a community health center. When they received new toys and books for their birthdays and Christmas, we had to make room for the new by passing on things that were in good repair to others. When they outgrew clothes, we donated them.
They stuffed envelopes and prepared them for mailing for various fundraising drives. (This taught them how to fold letters neatly, how to address envelopes for mailing, and to pay attention to details – useful skills.) They helped shovel snow from the sidewalk and steps of an elderly neighbor’s home. They were my assistants in baking sweets and quiches for cause-related bake sales at their high schools. They did this and at least half-a-dozen other things that I can think of.
On a recent visit to my hometown of St. Louis, I joined my sister and her family (including her 10 year old and 15 year old) in a huge, community-wide drive to package aid kits for a food relief effort. At our station, two of the children had mental challenges (including my nephew). They were active participants in preparing the kits and thrilled to be part of the team.
These sorts of family giving efforts have become fond memories for they helped us bond together and to appreciate that as a family we have enough and we have each other.
I now see my daughter passing this giving legacy onto my 3 ½ year old granddaughter, who has participated in one walkathon and who has a giving box in which she places items to give away when new things come into her life.
In this season of celebration, what better lesson is there than to teach our children to give? Isn’t this really what Christmas is about?