The holidays are rolling around and the Christmas season is upon us. Of course, we love the sun-drenched outings of the holidays, as well as the presents, puddings, and roast turkeys that come with Christmas.
But, more than the joy of receiving gifts and having fun, it’s also the perfect time to teach kids the value – and the joys – of giving to the poor, the underprivileged, and the needy. It teaches our little ones about compassion, thinking of others, and empowerment to help someone else.
Here are some of the ways in which families with young kids can share the love during the Christmas season, and beyond.
Blessings In A Bag
This is a really cool Singaporean initiative that helps delivers “blessings” to disadvantaged kids and rural communities in South-east Asia.
Blessings In A Bag collects excess supplies like clothing, school supplies, hygiene products, and kids-related products to distribute to needy partner communities, who qualify to receive these gifts by running local social programmes.
Currently, they are aiming to put together 500 Blessing Bag Packs by year-end – but this time these bag packs will be distributed within Singapore communities, for the first time. See their Facebook page for the latest updates on what kinds of supplies or blessing bags are needed.
So if your little tyke has excess school supplies like pencils, erasers, notebooks, stickers, backpacks and other forms of stationery, give them to Blessings In A Bag. Rope your kids in on packing the school supplies into a bag or box and label it ‘Blessings in a Bag’.
You can drop off your donations-in-kind at:
PHARMAPLUS, Camden Medical Centre, Orchard Boulevard, Level 1.
Monday to Friday – 9 am to 6pm
Saturday – 9 am to 1 pm
Pass It On
Do you have a used refrigerator to give away? How about a baby cot? Or your kids’ used clothes and possessions?
A good resource that aggregates the wish lists of much-needed items for the poor and needy can be found at online portal Pass It On. This Central CDC initiative allows the public to donate unwanted household items in good working condition to Voluntary Welfare Organisations (VWOs).
You can look through the website to see item requests from many VWOs all over the island and see what you can give away. Make it a fun and meaningful experience for your child as you get her help to pack the things into a box, explaining how it will help someone else who really needs them.
Or even better, if you want to, you can shop for NEW items with your little one, to meet a specific need listed on the Pass It On portal. Go crazy!
Christmas Kettling with The Salvation Army
Take your kids to the streets by volunteering as bell-ringers to raise funds for the disadvantaged.
The tradition of kettling began in 1891 when Captain Joseph McFee of The Salvation Army wanted to provide free Christmas dinners to the poor. When passers-by drop donations into the iconic red kettle, the red-hatted volunteers ring their bells to thank the donor.
You can volunteer as a family. Even very young kids below 12 years old can be part of this, as long as there is adult supervision.
For registration and more information, go to The Salvation Army’s Christmas Kettling Appeal.
Kettling locations include 313@Somerset, Junction 8, TANGS Orchard, Bedok Mall, and others. Registration closing date: 22 December 2014. http://tiny.cc/bellringers
Causes for Animals
Not many animal shelters or rescue groups accept volunteers younger than 12 years old in age. ButCauses for Animals is happy to take in families with young children as volunteers, provided that mum or dad supervises the child and don’t leave her unattended.
Pets depend on their human masters to care for them. But unfortunately, there are companion animals which are abandoned and left to fend for themselves on the streets. Causes for Animals saves homeless animals and works hard to keep strays off the streets.
Volunteering at Causes for Animals is a good opportunity for parents to show and teach children how to care for those who depend on us completely, and how to be kind to animals.
Also, if your kid has been pestering you to get that puppy or kitten for Christmas, it’s a good litmus test – and reality check – of what owning a pet really requires.
All volunteers have to be willing to put in some elbow grease and get their hands dirty. Duties include on-site cleaning, poop-picking, and adoption/merchandise sales events. Helping at the shelter keeps the animals’ living spaces comfortable and clean.
There is no minimum commitment period, especially since young kids are involved, but Causes welcomes families to help out long-term, as it’s a good way for kids to interact and bond with animals.
Make someone’s wish come true this Christmas.
The Boys’ Brigade Share-A-Gift project reaches out to more than 6,000 households from Government-funded ComCare programmes and 202 VWOs.
More than just giving money, donors are asked to buy specific wish items requested by people who are in need. They include underprivileged kids, the elderly, special needs people, and families.
Go to BB Share-A-Gift to find out what the wish lists items are and take your little tyke shopping. Explain to her what you’re doing as you buy the things, and how these items are going to help someone very much. Enlist your kid’s help to load up the shopping cart and bundling the things up to send to the Boys’ Brigade.
Your package of goodies will be in the arms of the Boys in Blue as they go knocking on doors, and it will cheer someone up this Christmas.
The BB boys are stationed at various locations around the island to collect food and household items donated by the public. See donation locations on their website for more details.