Do You Want to Raise Charitable Children?

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Here's one thing you can do right now: Clean out their closets.

I’ve given this a lot of thought, and although there are many things we can do to raise charitable children (most notably, by demonstrating acts of charity), I think the simple act of cleaning out a closet is one of the easiest ways to show our kids what it means to be charitable. And as an added bonus, we get a cleaner closet out of the deal. It’s a win win!

If your closets are anything like ours they are probably overflowing with stuff. We really only insist upon a thorough closet cleaning twice a year; once in August before we go back to school, and once in the Spring as we move into the summer. During these closet-cleaning sessions, I get the girls to try on clothes and put aside the ones that don’t fit for charity. (Pro tip: I use my extra reusable grocery bags for this purpose, which I seem to pick up every time I go to a conference or special event nowadays.)

Here’s my current pile:

Raising charitable children, one bag at a time

While we’re standing in front of the closets amid piles of clothes, I find myself wondering how many jeans/sweaters/t-shirts a kid really needs to get by. (Answer: Not many.) And while we’re there, I’ll see a toy that hasn’t been played with in a while and add it to the bag. (When the kids were small, I used to do this while they weren’t looking, but now that they’re older I try to involve them in the process.)

And while we’re sorting, we’re talking about life, and money, and charity, and what it might be like not to own a fancy party dress… and hopefully though these conversations they start to understand that their small actions can be immensely helpful -- and even life changing for someone in need.

This is why I’m adding one more “closet clean up day” to the mix -- now, in November/December -- because that’s when people shop for Christmas gifts and things that can fill up the space under the tree. You may not think that people buy second-hand clothes for Christmas, but they do. Think about it. Where would you go to find fun Christmas sweaters, party dresses, dress pants, and winter gear if you couldn’t afford to buy them new?


andrea tomkins
writer, blogger