Charity begins at home
That is a lesson we want to teach our children everyday.
What does that mean exactly?
Does it mean that I take care of my family needs first and foremost, above all else?
No. Taking care of my family is a given not an added burden.
Is giving to charity (whether that be financial support or volunteering or social support) a chore?
Not in this house. Not in this family. Not for this mom.
My husband and I believe understanding charity does begins at home. We, as parents, need to be role models in our own lives to set an example. Both Paul and I have always volunteered our time and donated to worthy cause that are true to our heart. I have brought up our children as my parents brought me up: being respectful and taking the needs of others into account – always. Growing up, we never had too much, we never lived in excess but we also never forgot that we lived in a world of more and that others had less. Charity always began at home whether it was an offer of alms on Sunday at church, donating to St. Vincent de Paul Society or the local food bank. We were taught: there was always room to give to others.
Today is Giving Tuesday. This commemorative day comes after the craziness (or excess) of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Its a time to stop thinking about what you want and start thinking about what you can give. Its a way of taking back the consumerism that is the holiday season. It focuses on being generous with your donations and your time.
It’s important to say that giving back does not always mean shelling out money from your own pocket. Maybe it means hosting a bake sale, holding a car wash or volunteering your time. GIVING TUESDAY is a great opportunity to consider other options that you and your children might have to give back to your community. Marc and Craig Kielburger, the founders of Free the Children wrote an excellent blog post on the importance of Giving Tuesday with the goal of getting more youth involved in selfless acts.
A couple of weeks ago, I was invited by TELUS to attend WeDay in Waterloo. WeDay is a full day event to help motivate, congratulate and empower our youth to take action, give back and consider that change is in their hands. Students are asked to take on benevolent tasks that will help them ‘act locally and think globally’. These students all deserve a big round of applause as they had to earn their way to WeDay by becoming agents of change (<— my daughter’s video from WeDay 2013). The impact that Me to We and WeDay has had on our youth is tremendous. Since 2007, students have logged 14.6 million volunteer hours. with 5.6 million pounds of food collected and over $45 million raised for more than 1,000 local and global initiatives.
Me to We’s can explains its mission simply:
We are an international charity and educational partner, working both domestically and internationally to empower and enable youth to be agents of change.
By shifting the world from “me” mentality to “we” mindset this organization is redefining what it means to give back and how to build relationships powerful enough to change lives. That impact resonates with our family as our eldest decided to study International Development and Globalization after attending a Free the Children trip to help build a high school in Ecuador. All of this came about because of her involvement with her school’s social justice group and their initiatives throughout the year to earn their spot at We Day in Toronto. That is the kind of impact you want to have on your children.
We Day is only possible because of the generous partnership with large corporations like Blackberry, RBC and TELUS. Last year Me to We introduced an app with the help of TELUS that would help students track their acts of kindness, volunteer hours and provide a platform where like minded kids are able to connect and encourage each other. The We365 app is available on iTunes and the Google Store (for Android). Its as easy as downloading it to your smartphone, registering yourself and getting started. With every download of the app TELUS will donate $5 to support WeDay and education programs.
Using the We365 App
To get started you need to register your name, email address and upload a picture (optional).
Choose the Causes that you are passionate about and want to get involve with. I choose Global Poverty, Happiness, Community, Human Rights and It All Adds Up. You can also work on cause that focus on the environment, bullying, education and animals. You can pick however many causes you want to get involved with. Maybe this year you will focus on three and next year you will focus on different three. You have the option of choosing.
Once you have decided on a cause that you are passionate about, you can see if there are any challenges that might interest you. You can participate on a challenge for a day, a week or a full year. They vary from random acts of kindness to full on volunteering for a day. I also decided to put out a challenge of my own. On Giving Tuesday, I asked that assemble any clothing, toys or books that you no longer use or need and then donate them to the Goodwill.
Below you can see the Giving Tuesday Challenge that I posted on the We365 app.
Setting up a Challenge
- Name Your Challenge
- State what you are challenging other to do
- Tell People why you want them to do this challenge (fundraise, create awareness, donate)
The We365 App will then:
- Let you know how many people accepted the challenge
- How many liked the challenge
- Let you comment on the challenge
- Share the challenge with other We365ers within the app
- Reap the rewards of reaching out to your community to get them involved
- Share your challenge on social media to create greater awareness
You can see below other challenges that have been placed by others as well as We365. “Let’s move from the ‘selfie’ gen to the Selfless gen! We challenge you to be more selfless in your daily life for 1 week” This is the challenge sent out by We365. The week long challenge is enough to give students pause and consider selfless acts. I love the participants that have accepted the challenge (75 in total so far) and the deeds that they have accomplished in a week: tutoring peers, raising money to help build a school, package food hampers. These are the kinds of things that we want to encourage our youth to do.
Once you complete challenges you can earn pins. I like that they made some of the pins fun and unique with direct reference to pop culture. Something to keep the students interested and engaged. It acknowledges that they have written a post, created and/or joined a challenge. To be sure, these and more are activities that you can do to earn pins.
All of these acts are not just for pins and challenges, they will also help you keep track of your volunteer hours and build valuable life skills. In Ontario, high school students from grade 9 – 12 have to volunteer for a mandatory 40 hours of community service. Volunteer hours all add up, whether it is packing hampers, collecting food for We Scare Hunger, volunteering at the Boys & Girls Club, tutoring a peer, teaching Irish Dance, helping out at Tim Bits Volleyball, being an assistant volleyball coach for the junior team or going to Ecuador with Free the Children to build a high school (these are all things that my three children have done). Community services provides a balance to school, work and social activities, they also help when its time to apply to a post-secondary institution. The variety of volunteer opportunities provides valuable experience to land summer jobs and post university full time employment.
The We365 app. makes is super easy to keep track of those hours by keeping track of the location, description of the tasks, skills learned as well as supply the supervisor’s contact information and then they can sign off right then and there. It has a special feature in the We365 to sign the form right on your phone. How cool is that?
That is why on this Giving Tuesday, I encourage you to download the We365 app and give it a try. Encourage your children to take some of the challenges and to keep track.
But remember: Giving Tuesday is one day of the year… the We365 app is for everyday. For everyone.