As parents, caregivers and adults who influence the lives of children, we have an obligation to pass down the worthwhile traditions of yesteryear to the next generation.
With the holidays fast approaching, it is crucial that we teach our children that the act of receiving should always be coupled with the spirit of giving. To ensure that children are motivated beyond the tales of "naughty" and "nice" lists, I encourage parents to remind children that there are less-fortunate children who will not be having joyous moments of gift unwrapping and toy playing this holiday season.
To help solve this problem and jumpstart our giving efforts, we're getting involved in #GivingTuesday this year. #GivingTuesday is an international day of giving back that occurs on the heels of Black Friday and the equally conspicuous Cyber Monday. The movement was started only last year by the NYC-based institution 92nd Street Y and has already been endorsed by the likes of the United Nations Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and many Fortune 500 companies. This year, #GivingTuesday is on December 3rd and is truly is the perfect antidote to a holiday season that is quickly becoming remiss of selflessness.
It will be incredibly exciting to see many #GivingTuesday moments come to life in so many different ways and across all of the corners of the globe. For Mommy Nearest, #GivingTuesday means encouraging our local community of parents and caregivers in New York City to take part in the simple yet incredibly meaningful act of physically giving something back for the holidays. At the 92nd Street Y and all giggle retail locations in Manhattan, we're encouraging parents to drop off new or gently used toys or children's clothing, which will be donated to our charity partners at The Salvation Army, Baby Buggy and Room to Grow.
But, most importantly, we're asking parents to have their children accompany them and to let the little ones actually make the donation. Our goal is to start breeding the next generation of do-gooders, so that they can gain an appreciation for charity and an understanding of why we give back.
One of the best ways to teach children about giving back is to get them involved in the process. As you start to think about what items you may want to donate, try letting your child pick out the item so they feel like it was their idea. This will give them a greater sense of accomplishment (and you won't accidentally give away one of their favorite toys in the process!).
As you donate with your little ones, take an #UNselfie with them and share it across social media. What's an #UNselfie, you ask? We all know what a selfie is, now that it has recently been named the Word of the Year by Oxford Dictionaries, but an #UNselfie is a photo that is all about unselfishness. Snap a photo when you've just done an act of kindness, and you'll deserve all of the 'likes' in the world. At the #GivingTuesday headquarters at 92Y, there will be a MotorBooth truck, so that families can take and share holiday photos while giving back.
If you are planning a #GivingTuesday event for your organization, think about creative ways to spread the word on social media. After all, #GivingTuesday is a hashtag movement that is inherently social, so sharing will be a crucial part of the movement's success.
Beyond encouraging giving, we also hope that parents spread the word about their #GivingTuesday involvement within your local community. We've seen firsthand that when communities come together and support a cause, magical things can happen. Over the summer, Mommy Nearest ran a promotion for local parenting groups in which the winners could have used the cash prize for any initiative. Instead of throwing themselves a victory party or buying toys for their kids, the winning group from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, donated all of their winnings to a local family whose infant had just been diagnosed with leukemia. These acts of selflessness from the community have made an impact far-beyond helping offset the family's medical costs. It has truly lifted their spirits.
As compared to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday is still in an early stage of awareness and adoption, so help spread the word. There are many worthwhile ways to join the movement this year, and I encourage you to do so.