With summer break coming up, it’s a good time to think about activities to teach children how to give back locally.
Sometimes it can be uncomfortable for us to talk to our kids about giving back, because then we have to go into deeper conversations about why other families may need our help. By teaching our children at an early age that giving back to those who need a helping hand is the right thing to do, we can set up the trajectory of their path to giving for years to come. And when they’re young, their brains are moldable, meaning the power of giving should be taught during these developmental years.
At Community Action Partnership of Orange County, we refer to the month of May as National Community Action Month. It was created by the national branch of Community Action Partnership to reinforce Community Action agencies’ role in helping low-income families achieve economic stability. We like to think of it as an opportunity for families to come together to give back to their communities.
With summer break right around the corner, it’s a great time to start thinking about activities to keep children busy and teach them about giving back too. Here are some ideas for activities you can do with your kids:
Host a Food Drive
The OC Food Bank partners with more than 200 local charities, soup kitchens and community organizations in an effort to end hunger and malnutrition in Orange County. This is done through donated food, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) commodities and purchased food. In a typical year, the OC Food Bank distributes more than 23 million pounds of food — and in 2021, we doubled that number. We welcome and encourage our neighbors to host food drives. This could be an event your family hosts within your own neighborhood, company, school, church or service organization — where everyone unites to collect food for the community’s most vulnerable. It’s a fun, interactive and memorable way the whole family can give back to the OC Food Bank.
Pick Up Extra School Supplies
It’s never too early to start gathering school supplies for children in need. For kids living in poverty, there are often financial barriers to purchasing a new backpack and school supplies, and starting a new school year without these necessary tools creates a perceived divide among peers. CAP OC is aiming to help kids go back to school, learning with confidence and pride, and we’ve found that providing a student with a fully stocked backpack, packed with supplies like papers, pens, notebooks and folders can make a world of difference. We make it easy to drop off donations so if you’re already going to shop for school supplies for your own children, why not purchase school supplies for kids in need and donate to one of our summertime Backpacks for Success distribution events? These annual events provide low-income students and families with critical school supplies as students prepare for a new year of learning.
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No parent should ever have to worry about not having diapers for their babies. Diapers are a necessity and should be available for anyone who needs them. CAP OC opened the OC Diaper Bank in March 2020 at the height of the pandemic. Since its fruition, nearly 28 million diapers have been given to families in need. We are incredibly proud to be able to give out necessities like diapers, wipes and other various baby items during difficult times, and with the pricing for those essential products skyrocketing due to inflation, it is important now more than ever to donate to these vital programs.
Adopt a Family
During the holiday season, families throughout the county are doing everything they can to make ends meet, and that means sometimes they are unable to give their children a holiday season their kids want and deserve. There are many ways to adopt a family, including purchasing new clothes, toys and gifts, or providing a holiday meal. These simple acts of kindness provide families in need the chance to experience the small and large joys that come with the holidays, such as sitting around a beautiful meal with loved ones, or watching a child’s excitement as he or she unwraps a gift. And it could be a great opportunity to teach your own kids the real reason for the season — giving back.
Learn Financial Literacy
One of the best things you can do for your kids is teach them the basic skills of financial literacy, providing them the proficiency to give back to charities and nonprofits later on in life. But let’s be honest, even adults sometimes have difficulty comprehending these basics, and that’s OK. At CAP OC we run a financial empowerment program for adults that provides a curriculum titled, “Your Money, Your Goals.” This five-week series teaches people how to make spending decisions that bring them closer to their goals; order and fix credit reports; make decisions about repaying debts and evaluate the pros and cons of taking on new debt; keep track of their income and bills; and so much more.
Gregory C. Scott serves as president and CEO of Community Action Partnership of Orange County, www.capoc.org.