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Five Ways to Help Children Help Others

December 14, 2012
By Chrysti Carol Propes

'Tis the season for wrapping gifts, baking cookies and decking the halls. The holiday season is also an excellent time to give back to your community and teach children to help others -- all while bringing a little joy to people who need it most. Here are five ways to give back with your children this holiday season:

1. Point out and participate in drives. When you encounter a Salvation Army bell-ringer or a food shelf drop-off bin, explain to your child why they're there and what the organizations do. Encourage your child to be the one to add money to the bucket or canned goods to the food shelf container.

2. Donate time or funds to a charity. Many families contribute to a charity during the holiday season by volunteering time or donating money. Involve your children in choosing the charity so the action carries extra meaning to them. My family believes so strongly in this method that we launched a program this year based on that very idea: Monkeez Makes a Difference. Our company, MVP Group International Inc., sells a line of stuffed sock-monkey animals and makes a 10 percent donation for every product purchased in the program. Children choose where the donation goes by visiting and learning about each of three charity partners, then selecting one. We've heard from many parents that actively researching and selecting a charity is a valuable way to help children understand philanthropy. (Until Jan. 31, purchasers who enter the discount code "THANKFUL" at checkout will receive 20 percent off anything in the Monkeez and Friends online store.)

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3. Spread cheer in care facilities. Hospital patients and long-term care facility residents miss out on being with their families during this joyful time. Encourage kids to make cards for residents of nursing homes and hospitals.

4. Make it a group activity. Seek out charitable activities your family can do with others: Volunteer for a shift at a shelter. Shop together and drop off gifts for a toy drive. You and your children will get to know members of your community better while giving back.

5. Talk about the power of kindness. While the holiday season is exciting and festive, it can also be stressful. Remind your children that a simple attitude of kindness might be the perfect gift for the people around them. Sometimes a smile or a kind word is all it takes to turn someone's day around.

The best part about the ideas is that they can be the spark for charitable values that last a lifetime. Teaching children about helping others is a 365-days-a-year effort, but the holidays can be the perfect time to begin those conversations and see the effects of volunteering time, talent and funds firsthand.

Chrysti Carol Propes is the founder and director of Monkeez Makes a Difference, which teaches children the importance of helping others through kid-friendly tools including the Genuine Monkeez and Friends plush characters, online games, real-life Do Good challenges and a special donation on a child's behalf to one of three nationally renowned charities. A mother of two boys, former teacher, children's book author and writer for educational apps, Propes based the program on research that indicates it's never too early to teach children to think of others and that children should be empowered to explore causes and reach their own decisions about what to support. Learn more at



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