Tuesday, December 5, 2006

The Local Level: Toys, Toys, Toys!

When kids are around, it's hard to keep the toys from taking over the house. I know when I was growing up, we had toys everywhere, especially on the stairs "to go up" (somehow they never seemed to make it "up" the stairs!) It doesn't take a lot to accumulate a massive toy collection, either...a few gifts from aunts and uncles, a doting grandparent, a birthday party, and of course, Christmas...and already you could open up a toy store of your own!

Of course, there are plenty of children out there who aren't lucky enough to have this problem. So, here are a few ideas for clearing out the clutter and helping out a neighbor before the next flurry of gift-giving begins.

Start by helping your kid(s) go through their stash, pulling out a predetermined number of toys (10 toys, 1/3 of the whole lot, or 1/2, even 1 or 2 very special items) to give to children won't have a lot this Christmas. There may be some reluctance at first, but most kids will begin to enjoy picking out just the right presents for "a friend in need." Then take a family trip to deliver the goods (just like Santa!) Try:
  • Goodwill
  • Salvation Army
  • Check your local paper for Toy Drives
  • Churches
  • Community Services Centers
  • Ask at your local library

Some guidelines:

  • Don't donate broken or soiled toys (slightly loved is ok)
  • Try to give things your child would be happy to see under the tree
  • Make sure all pieces and parts are included
  • Include working batteries for toys that require them
  • Wash dress-up clothes before donating
  • Make it fun...this is an exciting thing you're doing, not a punishment!

New Toys:

  • Toys for Tots and similar programs are looking specifically for new toys, so be sure to check the guidelines of the program you are hoping to donate to

One tip for after the holidays:

I have a friend who is really dedicated to teaching her kids about sharing abundance. One of their Christmas traditions is that after they've opened up all their presents, the kids each choose a few new presents to keep, and a few new presents to give to families in need. One benefit of this approach is that it helps kids learn that helping others isn't just about giving away things you're tired of, it can also mean willingly giving up some things that you really want for the greater good of the whole.

Again, this doesn't have to be a punishment or something that the kids are forced to do...it can be a fun, exciting, empowering way that kids can feel like they can make a difference in someone else's life.

Toys Photo by De Shark

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