Tag Archives: holidays

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!

Family Ties: Tips for a Stress-Reduced Holiday Season

smiling family with camera at homeWhile holidays are typically a time of joy and celebration, they can also be a source of stress and anxiety. Sometimes expectations about what should happen around the holidays collide with the reality of what actually happens, and this can lead to disappointment, anger, and sadness. Fortunately, there are ways to make the holidays more enjoyable!

Be proactive, not reactive. Enter the holidays with a good idea of what to expect and a plan for how to deal with events and issues as they arise. Begin by reflecting on what has happened in the past at family gatherings—this will make it possible to plan ahead. Often, small alterations in both expectations and behavior make a big difference. Talk over your plans with your spouse/partner and other family members, and take time to think through what you would like to happen during the holidays.

There are two general choices of action to consider from one year to the next:

Stick with existing traditions, but alter parts of them where necessary. If you decide to stick with existing traditions, focus on changing your expectations and behavior in relation to old patterns. For example, if a family member has arrived late to a holiday meal for the past three years, expect that he will do so again and carry on with your plans anyway. If he arrives on time, you will be pleasantly surprised. If he arrives late, you will be less upset since you expected as much.

Create new traditions and/or rituals. Creating new traditions can be an enlivening process that respects what’s come before but generates new forms of celebration reflecting present and changing circumstances. Families that feel exhausted and overextended can scale back the traditions they’ve been straining to uphold. For example, a family may feel relieved to deviate from the dinner menu they’ve prepared year after year just because it was a tradition.

The most important thing you can do to reduce stress during the holiday season is to clearly delineate what matters most about the season. Furthermore, everyone does not have to agree on everything, because there are usually sufficient areas of agreement about what’s important. If compromise in essential areas is not possible, the disagreement may be a clue to important issues that require continued attention beyond the holidays. For example, interfaith couples may find holidays particularly stressful for many reasons. These issues—though unearthed by holiday stress—deserve extra (and perhaps professional) attention going forward.

Here are some tips for reducing holiday stress:

  • Be proactive rather than reactive.
  • Maintain reasonable expectations.
  • Be clear about what is really important to you.
  • Be flexible and willing to change. In addition to making your life easier it is a great example to set for your children.
  • Retain your sense of humor!

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Andrew Roffman, LCSW, has over two decades of experience in helping families, couples, and individuals with emotional and behavioral problems. He is a clinical assistant professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at the Child Study Center at NYU Langone Medical Center and also the director of the Child Study Center’s Family Studies Program, a training program in family and couples therapy. Mr. Roffman teaches family therapy and family systems theory to psychology interns, psychiatry residents, and NYU undergraduates.

Mr. Roffman is a Member of the National Association of Social Workers. He has published numerous peer-reviewed articles for professional journals as well as a book chapter in Therapeutic Hypnosis with Children and Adolescents. Mr. Roffman received “Teacher of the Year” award in 2008 and 2011 for his work with trainees at the Child Study Center and is a regular contributing editor to The Journal for Systemic Therapies.