Charitable Choices

by Dana S. Bader
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Ramadan is a time for charitable acts.  During the holy month of Ramadan as we work to fast from sunrise to sunset, we spend more time praying and doing good deeds.  Our focus turns away from ourselves towards others and how we can help them in their time of need.  In an effort to accumulate as many rewards from Allan (SWT) as possible, we look for any opportunity we can to feed the poor, make donations to the needy, and help others in our community who require assistance.

With so much of our personal attention on charitable acts, Ramadan also becomes the perfect time to teach our children about charity. Hopefully, by participating in family acts of charity during Ramadan, children can learn about the joy of giving to others and make it a part of their everyday lives. To help your children acquire the habit of charity, consider implementing some of the following strategies:

Practice What You Preach: As with everything in life, kids learn best by example.  Rather than telling your child about your charitable acts have him help you prepare food packs for sharing fridges and go with you to deliver them to the fridge.  Also, let your child put any spare change you receive at the supermarket into the charity box before you leave.  While your child is doing these acts, you can talk about why they are important and how else you might be able to help those in need.  The more your child sees you involved in such acts, they will learn your values and adopt them for their own.  More important, they will learn that charity requires action.

Be Hands On: Most people tend to associate charity with giving money.  However, it is hard for children to grasp that the money given is going towards buying bread to help feed refugees.  Therefore, it is important for children to experience charitable giving first hand by choosing a project and working on that project for a specified duration of time.  Also, the more you let them direct the process, the greater the involvement your child will feel and the more your child will learn from the experience.  For example, your child might believe that poor children don’t have enough toys.  Therefore, you can ask your child to think of ways to collect and distribute toys to poor children.  Perhaps she’d like to do extra chores around the house to earn some money to buy the toys herself, or she might suggest asking her friends at school to donate toys that she can give to the needy.  Either way, she is learning to donate her time and efforts, not just her money, to helping the needy.

Seize the Moment: You don’t need to set aside a special time to talk about the importance and joy of giving.  Opportunities may not pop up all of the time.  Passing a homeless person on the street, for example, might be a good occasion to talk about the fact that some families do not have enough money for a place to live.  Visiting an elderly or ailing relative might be the right time to talk about how charitable acts begin at home and spending time with someone who is lonely or unwell is an act of charity.

Donate Clothes: Encourage your children to regularly go through their closets to find clothes they have not worn in a while or clothes they may have outgrown to donate to the needy.  Let them also sort their toys to find some that they can give away.  Allow them to select the clothes or toys because the value of this activity will be greatly diminished if you go through their closets for them without their presence.  For maximum benefit, take your children with you when you drop off the items at the charity.

Help Your Neighbors: Get your children to help you help the neighbours.  For example, you can cut your elderly neighbour’s grass or clean his car, or you and your child can bake cookies and give them to the neighbours as a special treat.

Hold a Children’s Donation Party: If you’re looking for a good reason to have a party for your child, hold a Donation Party.  Make a cake, organize some party games, and ask the guests to donate a gift for your child to give to a particular charity that you and your child have selected together.  For example, you might ask each guest to donate a book or a toy that you can give to an orphanage.

Include Pets: At regular intervals, buy dog or cat food and take it to the local animal shelter.  When you visit the shelter, allow your child to spend some time with the animals there.

Deliver Nutrition: Build food baskets or packs and bring them regularly to the needy in your community.  Be sure to involve your children in selecting the food items and making the food packs.

Doing charitable acts as often as you can, teaches your children that charity is something that can be done throughout the year.  It also helps them appreciate that reaching out to those in need is a way of life, rather than just a good deed reserved for Ramadan or something that is done when disaster strikes.  More important, it teaches them that sharing really is caring and that giving is the true source of happiness.

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