Charitable Children: Giving Can Be as Easy as Eating

my worldgiving organizations

In a December 2010 survey of 501 children, when asked: "Which of the following, if any, do you think you would enjoy doing to help people in need?," 80 percent of the kids surveyed said they would most enjoy donating goods, such as clothes or food. Of those children, 77 percent said they would prefer to volunteer their time to do things like helping clean up a park or serve food to the homeless. Additionally, 75 percent said they would prefer to send a card or care package to soldiers. Finally, 75 percent also said they would like to participate in a fundraising event like a dance-a-thon, bake sale or charity walk. Lowest on the list was the preference to donate allowance money to a charity, cause or person in need, at 72 percent.

Now, if you've done the math, you'll notice that all those percentages add up to much more than 100%, meaning that each of those children selected more than one thing as a viable way of helping others. In theory at least, children are natural givers. They do want to help others. It's up to us to provide the opportunities. Most of the mothers in the survey indicated that it was more important by far that their children grow up to be giving adults, rather than wealthy adults, and I would bet that most of you reading this feel the same way.

Some companies, particularly those that provide products that children like to consume, are beginning to realize that and tap into those desires by providing easy, more visual ways for children to be involved in giving. Betty Crocker, the company that makes Fruit Gushers, Fruit Roll-Ups, Fruit by the Foot, and Betty Crocker Fruit Shapes, has launched a rather ingenious way to get kids involved in the giving process, to benefit other kids, no less. They have partnered with a nonprofit called One Laptop Per Child, whose goal is to provide every child in a developing country with a special laptop. The website WinOneGiveOne features a hero that they can "catapult" to Africa, and for every 1500 heroes so catapulted, Betty Crocker® Fruit Flavored Snacks will donate a laptop to a child (aged 6 to 12) in Africa, up to 442 laptops before May 31st of this year. Also, moms can print off a coupon that provides a discount on boxes of the popular fruit snacks, and for every coupon redeemed before that same date, Betty Crocker will donate $1 to One Laptop Per Child, up to $4,000. Certain fruit snack boxes also have certificates in them for moms to enter their kids in a drawing for an XO laptop, and for every winner, another laptop is given to a child in Africa, thus the "win one give one" theme.

The laptops themselves are specially made to be rugged, low-cost, and low-power. They are given to whole elementary school classrooms at a time, so that they can do interactive activities, but every child gets to keep their own laptop. They come internet-ready and loaded with free, open-source software. As One Laptop Per Child says, "with access to this type of tool, children are engaged in their own education, and learn, share, and create together. They become connected to each other, to the world and to a brighter future.

In that same recent survey, when asked who they could help, the response was basically "everyone." Everyone can always use help, and we can all give, especially if it's as easy as eating fruit snacks.

How do your kids feel about giving? Do they want to help others? What are ways that you teach your kids how to give?

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