Today the kids collected donations at church. They were doing their small part to help support missionary work in Africa. In this case, it’s getting an expensive copier for a school so they can mass produce educational material. While I don’t believe in schools or having a school system, I do believe in helping kids help others. Who knows? Maybe those schools will provide opportunities for those students otherwise unavailable.
It was so sweet to see all the kids paired up to collect their donations. Corde and Beekee were actually working together, holding hands and actually getting along. Sander was paired with one of the kids they’ve been playing with a lot lately. He was so excited because his mama gave him money to put in his bucket. It was only twelve cents that I’d found floating around my room and threw in the pocket of my purse. It didn’t matter. He got to put it in his bucket, and that meant so much to him!
The kids really don’t see what those contributions do, even though they’re living by charity. Everything they’ve gotten has come by charity lately, the clothes they wear, the shoes on their feet, the food they eat, even the very roof over their head. It’s hard to teach a kid what charity means that way, when it all seems to magically show up for free. It’s not like they see the people contributing. They don’t see the results of their contribution. It makes it hard for them to truly understand.
This got a conversation started about the idea of donating money. It was all started by a comment I made a week ago. I told the kids that when you give money away, you’ll eventually get that money back. Maybe it won’t be someone giving you money, but in a time of need, if you show good will, good will has a funny way of returning.
We’ve always been givers in some means. Whenever we see Salvation Army buckets at Christmas I try to have a few coins so all the kids can drop one in. My mom always did that when we were little. I still don’t know what’s so fun about running up to drop a coin in the bucket, but to this day I still enjoy that satisfying clink if the coins in the bottom of the bucket. It’s just not the same to drop a bill in. The kids seem to love it too. With four kids, even a quarter means a dollar every time. If left to our old habits, that would equate to close to thirty dollars in a holiday season, just to one charity. I always try to do more when I can, but it’s not always the case. But the kids are learning, all my pocket change ends up in the Salvation Army bucket, or the Ronald McDonald House box in the drive thru, or any of the many collection boxes, bins, and tubs I see. Sander and Luca both get especially excited, even if all I have is a couple pennies to let them drop in. They love paying street performers too. There’s just something fun about putting money in a box or bin or hat or even a guitar case. They’re starting to learn even now, give every chance you can, even if it’s just a few cents. It’s the joy of dropping things in a box for the little ones, for the older ones, it’s a chance to feel like they’re helping in some little way.
Today when we talked about giving, Sander said he would want to give all his money away. He doesn’t want any money because I buy everything he needs, so he needs to give his money to people who don’t have any money so their mommies can buy them everything they need some day, like candy and birthday presents and shirts with superheroes or My Little Ponies.
Beekee is under the impression that you give money to get money. I guess he sees it like some kind of karma. The more money you give away, the more money you’ll get back some day. I tried to explain that it doesn’t work that way, but who knows. Maybe he’ll be one of those people doing mission work or doctors without boarders, or something like that, and he may give away every cent he makes to find all his needs provided for him by the people who support his cause. You never know.
Corde gives because of the return too, but in a very different way. She likes doing it because it feels good to help. She’s old enough to understand we don’t have money and that means we can’t have a lot of things. Still, she wants to donate her dollar from the tooth fairy to the church and she used her last money to buy candy to share with her brothers. She wants me to have the money to take care of us, but she would rather hit the thrift shop for clothes, preferably one that supports a charity, and donate the money we save to some cause or another.
That’s one thing I’ve tried to inspire my kids with, the spirit of giving. It may not be more than pocket change or a dollar or two, but it adds up. That’s not even getting into “the Christian ten percent” or any of that. I have every intention of following Dave Ramsey’s advice and giving ten percent of my income, just because it’s a good way to live, but that’s not going to stop me from going above and beyond, tossing spare pocket change in my kids’ hands for buckets and boxes as we go. I’m teaching my kids that charity doesn’t come with an amount tied to it. Ten percent is a good number, but give what you can, when you can, because even pocket change can go a long way.