11 Ways to Teach Kids to Give Back for the Holidays

‘Tis the season for celebrating, spending time with family . . . and running around frantically to find the perfect holiday gifts. This is no easy task when everyone on your list likes different things and the lines at stores are absolutely unbearable—not to mention that you usually end up spending much more than planned on luxurious gifts that you *hope* will make your recipients happy.

Sometimes the smallest gifts are the ones that mean the most. Instead of buying fancy new toys or the latest and greatest electronics, help give back and teach our children the true meaning of the holidays with a charitable donation that will bring joy into the lives of those less fortunate. These holiday gift donations can be big or small and can even be made in honor of your children, so they can really take part in helping someone in need. These 11 incredibly worthwhile charities are great options for holiday gift giving this year!

Donation box isolated on white1. Toys for Tots
Founded by the Marine Corp in 1995, Toys for Tots is one of the most recognized programs
helping kids during the holidays. You can either make a monetary donation or donate a toy online or at a donation center. Helping this organization is a great way to give back and show your kids how they can get involved.

2St. Jude Holiday Cards
We all send cards during the holidays, so why not send ones that will help a worthwhile cause? Visit the St. Jude’s website and choose from cute decorations, beautiful designs, and cards starring a St. Jude’s child. Once you select a card—it can be an ecard, card for mailing, or a printable card—indicate your donation and your holiday card will be on its way!

3. USO Holiday Boxes
Donate to USO Holiday Boxes to send festive decorations and treats to soldiers serving overseas. These soldiers don’t have access to a traditional holiday celebration, and truly appreciate these gifts, which help to brighten up their camps and make a far away place feel a little more like home. While the holidays are the perfect time to help this cause, there are also boxes for different times of the year, so you can even send 4th of July flags in the summer!

4. Ronald McDonald House
Ronald McDonald House is a home away from home for families with sick children. They work to improve the health and well being of children and make it easier for families to stay together at little or no cost while kids are receiving care. Just a small donation will go a long way to make this holiday season just a little bit brighter for these families, and help this amazing organization continue to improve the lives of so many people each day.

holiday charity ideas5. Seussville: Grow Your Heart 3 Sizes 
December 1 marked the celebration of National Grinch Day and kicked off “25 Days of Grinch-Mas”. Inspired by Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas, this campaign encourages kids to do one good deed each day and “grow your heart 3 sizes.” You can attend one of the cause’s many events held throughout the country or fill out a form to share your child’s good deeds and then donate a book through FirstBook.org.

6. Reach Out and Read
This is such a fun way to give the gift of reading! Since so many children grow up illiterate, Reach Out and Read helps pediatric doctors promote early literacy and school readiness to parents and young children. This program enables them to give out free books during well visits to promote bedtime story reading. It seems simple, but has had astounding effects—each year, 6.5 million books are distributed to kids thanks to this program!

7. Kangu.org
A non-profit crowdfunding site for safe births, Kangu.org makes it possible to fund a pregnant woman’s health services so that she and her baby can survive childbirth. As moms who all received fantastic prenatal care with our own children, this cause hits especially close to home! When you choose to help a mom-to-be on the site, you not only ensure that she receives basic prenatal care, but you also get to be an important part of her birth story and receive updates after her child is born. The site has funded over 500 women in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, to date, so with a helping hand this holiday season, we can ensure they can help many, many more women!

8. USPS Letters to Santa 
Did you know you can go to your local post office and pick up an actual letter written to Santa? Postal workers sift through the mail to find letters from children in need, remove the addresses, and leave them open for public adoption. You can then return with the gift and a letter back from Santa. How amazing is that? Visit your local post office to learn more, or visit the USPS website.

9. Navy Seal Foundation
Important not just during the holidays, but all year round, a donation to the Navy Seal Foundation supports the families of Navy Seals. With the help of donations, the organization works to do everything from assist the families of fallen heroes to helping families with child care. They also partner with non-profits and academic institutes to help Navy Seal veterans transition themselves and their families to a new life after serving. What’s a better way to give back this holiday season than supporting those who risk their lives for others every day?

10. New York Cares Coat Drive. A coat seems like such a small thing, but for many New Yorkers, having a warm coat for the winter is not possible without help. Each year New York Cares hosts a coat drive with 300 public collection sites citywide, so you can easily find a place to donate near your home or office. If you don’t have any coats to donate, you can also make a monetary donation or volunteer to help the team that works to sort all donated coats.

1501300_820043221394018_4023128855538498254_o11. A Local Homeless Shelter. This year, Kidz Central Station is partnering with Murray Hill Parents, Madison Square Park Mommies, and many Upper East Side parents to donate gifts and supplies to a local NYC shelter. Right now there are over 59,000 people in these safe havens throughout NYC who you can help by dropping off toys, clothing, and other supplies. Visit the Coalition for the Homeless website for more info about how you can help.

If you know of other great ways to give back for the holidays this year, let us know! Email us at info@kidzcentralstation.com—we’ll not only add it to the list, but we’ll also share it and add to our growing list of charities for next year!

Author: Kidz Central Station

Founded by a NYC mom of two young children, Kidz Central Station uses technology to solve the problem so many busy parents face—how to find, book, and manage their children’s classes, camps, local family events, and birthday parties. Kidz Central Station offers more than 3,000 classes, camps, and birthday party options representing hundreds of NYC’s top activity providers. With a sophisticated search engine and class reviews, it is easy for parents to find the best classes for their children, sign up for a trial class, and directly enroll.