How to Teach Children About Poverty and Hunger
How do you teach your young child about poverty and hunger when he has a full plate of yummy food in front of him, is well-dressed, and comfortable? You don't. You can't. Yet, I yearn for my child to be aware of these things so that the seeds of compassion might grow in him. I don't want him to grow up thinking he "should" give to those less fortunate than he; I want him to grow up realizing how fortunate he is and how little separates us from becoming less fortunate, and wanting to improve the lives of others. Idealistic? Definitely. Unattainable? Maybe. But nonetheless a worthwhile pursuit.
Recently, my seven-year-old and I had the chance to participate in Frigidaire's Stain Games in Glendale, California. It was a beautiful, sunny day. Frigidaire provided us, as well as several other bloggers and their kids, a yummy lunch of chicken, fruit kabobs, veggie sticks, mini corn dogs, cracker jacks, and baseball cookies. In addition, they suited all the kids up in full baseball regalia and provided president-of-the-local-baseball-little-league coaches to teach them how to play. My son hit it off with the seven-year-old son of The Mommy File's Shannon. Oh, and then Jennifer Garner showed up, snapped a few pictures with us and tossed a baseball with the kids.
Great experience. I had to keep reminding myself that, ultimately, the whole point of the Stain Games was to get good food in the tummies, good education in the heads, and good shelter around the bodies of poor American children, served by the national nonprofit Save the Children.
As you probably read in my other post about this event, Frigidaire has pledged to donated $500,000 to the nonprofit and its mission of enforces children's rights and improving the lives of children through better education, health care, and economic opportunities, as well as providing emergency aid in natural disasters, war, and other conflicts. They don't want to just hand them a check though. They want to involve and engage consumers by asking them to make a virtual baseball swing at MakeTimeForChange.com, and will give $1 per person per swing up to $500,000 and will enter each person in a drawing for a set of their Affinity washer and driers.
So, people "play baseball," Frigidaire makes a contribution, Save the Children distributes it to their people "on the ground," who then run the programs and spend the money to help those stricken by poverty, hunger, or natural disaster. We, the consumers, are somewhat removed from the actual giving. We, the bloggers at the event, were certainly not doing any actual giving, although by posting about the Make Time For Change campaign, we ultimately hope to drive more contributions. Certainly, my son was removed from actually giving to, even thinking about, the recipients of Save the Children's charity.
So, if I want to effectively finish this lesson about helping those less-fortunate children, I need to help him see the need more directly. What I'm going to do is this:
- Take him with me next time I take a gift of a new pair of sneakers or art supplies to our local family support center. I usually ask them to give us a short tour of their facilities. I encourage him to bring some of his own money, even if it's only a nickel, and join me in the tour. He was nervous last time we did this, but walked out giddy from having made his own contribution.
- Google other appropriate nonprofits in my area or look up the nonprofit association of my state to expand my list of charities to help. In my pre-mom life, I was a nonprofit fundraiser and administrator, and I have a Master's degree in that, so I already have certain nonprofits that I know and am inclined to help. If you don't know where to start helping your child serve, google "hunger nonprofits in ___ county" or "(your state) nonprofit association."
By baby steps, one game or contribution at a time, I'll plant that seed.
How do you plan to take baby steps and contribute to those in need? How do you teach your children about poverty and hunger?