Christmas is a time that children love, when they get excited and caught up with all the magic of presents, food and festivities.

While you want your children to enjoy this special time, it is important to teach them about those who are less fortunate at Christmas, and discourage them to think solely of the presents they are going to receive.

Helping children to think about others at this age could hopefully instil a desire to do charity work as they get older, and become generally more thoughtful and caring individuals. Here are our tips to help you teach your children about charity at Christmas:

Operation Christmas Child – Send a Shoebox

This is a great cause and one that children enjoy taking part in. Ask your child to help you select some small toys, gifts and school supplies, put in a shoe box and wrap with pretty Christmas paper.

Explain to your child why you are doing this – that the box you have carefully chosen gifts for together will go to a poor child overseas that would otherwise have no gifts at Christmas time, and lives in poverty all year round.

The Children’s Society – Carol Singing

Carolling at Christmas is a festive and fun way to get together with people in your community and do some good for others. You could gather a group of children and parents from your child’s local school, or join a group that has formed already.

The Children’s Society website has lots of tips and resources to help you do this. This is a great charity to choose, as you will be helping children living in poverty or refugees right here in the UK.

It is best if you pick a specific location and time, then invite the people in your neighbourhood to come and watch for a charity donation. As well as getting your child involved in the local community, this will show them what they can do to make a difference to children who don’t live far away, but do live a very different and less fortunate life.

Born Free – Adopt an Animal

Most children love animals and Christmas offers an opportunity to ‘adopt’ one from Born Free – whether it is a tiger, chimp or whale your child likes best. You will of course have to explain that they can’t take the animal home (!) but will receive news and updates about them throughout the year.

You can explain to your child that these animals were rescued by the Born Free Foundation and that with help from the money spent for their Christmas present they can now live a healthy and happy life.

Must Have Gifts – Charity Gifts

If your child likes animals and has seen goats and chickens before from a local farm visit or maybe seen goats grazing in a field, then why not look to purchasing chickens, a kid goat or one of the other ranges of charity gifts that Must Have Gifts have available to buy on the website. These gifts are brought and help towards improving a child’s life in areas like South Sudan and Pakistan as they provide income, fresh produce and improve lives.

Find your own way to raise money

If you don’t want to get involved with a specific charity you and your child, perhaps as part of a wider group, could raise some money to help a charity of your choice. How about holding a bake sale, where you make Christmas themed goodies and give the proceeds to a charity of your choice? You could do a sponsored bike ride or walk; the options are endless!

Emily Bradbury is writing on behalf of The FCA, a leading agency for fostering in the UK. If you think fostering could be the career for you take a look at their website: www.thefca.co.uk

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