Each year I try to come up with a great way to get my children excited about giving back to their community. Last year they decorated a a cardboard box and I placed it in my work and bothered my co-workers incessantly to fill it up. We had great success with this and my children loved driving to a center downtown to donate everything to people in need.
This year, however, I want the giving to be a bit more hands-on on their part. I want THEM to give.
So I decided to do a “Backwards” Advent Calendar.
We will still use our amazing gingerbread house advent calendar to dole out candy during the long wait for Christmas, but we will also contribute something to the “Giving” Advent Calendar each day.
Making the box was oh-so very easy. Working as a bartender I have access to lots of cardboard boxes with partitions, however, you can also hit up your local liquor store and ask for a box or two.
Screw it, buy a 12 pack of wine. Have a fabulous drunken week and make your “Giving” Box as you sober up over the weekend.
Nothing says Christmas like booze!
You can keep the twelve space partitions or not. I chose to keep ours in as I think the kids will do better staying on it if they see there is still space to fill. Just chop off the box flaps and away you go!
I took out the partitions and wrapped the box up like a present. In my opinion, the more the box shouts “holiday fun” the more the kids will want to fill it up! Throw some bows on there, a few stickers, corks from the wine you so generously drank for the cause, whatever you have around the house. Don’t make it expensive, the only thing you should put into the box is stuff for donation.
Once I was done decorating, and let’s face it, this took a while cause I got REALLY into it…I decided i needed to have some structure to what goes into the box each day. If my munchkins don’t have guidance they will throw dirty undies and broken action figures in there and call it a good. Ew.
Here is the list I created to give them ideas of what to put in the box each day as we get closer to the big holiday. You will notice i separated our donation list into two sections of 12 and organized it so we repeat after the 12th day. You can organize your days however you wish. I figured we would fill up the box and then repeat.
Day 1/13- Hygiene – items include new toothbrushes, mouthwash, lotion, hand sanitizer, etc. Anything hygienic….go figure. (include feminine hygiene)
Day 3/14 – Canned Goods- this is pretty obvious. Try to choose cans that don’t require an opener.
Day 4/15– Baby Care – In my research to discover what people in need were in NEED of last year, baby items were at the top of the ilst. Diapers, wipes, lotion, rash cream, etc.
Day 5/16– Cold Weather Iteams- socks, hats, and gloves were a premium request from shelters last year.
Day 6/17– Dry Goods- non-perishable items such as Ramen noodles and snack packs of chips or even jello.
Day 7/18– Toys- You know your kids have 8 million toys they don’t play with that are basically brand new. Make them pick one or two to give to a child who might not get much this year.
Day 8/19– Reading Material- People in need get bored intellectually like everyone else. Donate a few books or magazines to spark some interest.
Day 9/20– Medicine- bandaids and neosporin, aspirin or tylenol; homeless people get stick too, help them feel a bit better.
Day 10/21– Kids Clothing Items- My kids have a ton of clothes and they tend to only where 1/3 of them or less. have your kids go through their drawers and fine a few items they don’t wear regularly. Warm items tend to be better this time of year.
Day 11/22– Time- Most homeless shelters need personal help handing out items working lunches and dinners. My own children do not meet the age requirements for these activities yet, however, they can go out with a wagon and ask our neighbors if they wouldn’t mind donating a canned item or pack of bandaids.
Day 12/23– Adult Clothing Items- Just like the kids there always seems to be something hiding in the back of my closet that i haven’t worn in years and could be better served helping someone in need. Have the kids help you go through your stuff to pick out a few things. Use it as an organizational tool!
On day 24, when your box in full, take it to a local church or homeless shelter. Make sure the kids help you carry it in. They should feel how amazing it is to be generous and see how their items can help. When we drove to drop off our groceries and clothing items. my kids were floored by the amount of people living in tent cities in our town, in 20 degree weather. They wanted to help even more after we dropped off our donation.