Is your New Year’s Resolution to help make the world a better place? In our house, we’re looking for ways to make a difference year-round, and to keep the best part of the holidays – the spirit of helping out locally and abroad – alive. Here are three ways we’re getting started.
Give Charitable Gifts
This Christmas, I was once again overwhelmed by the volume of Christmas stuff. In 2013, I don’t need another gift of bubble bath or soap, and I think the same is true for many of our nearest and dearest. So, instead of more hand lotion or books for the grandparents in our lives, we’ll be sending charitable gift cards, like those offered through Tis Best. The recipients can choose to send the donation to a nonprofit of their choosing, and we can even upload a photo of the grandkids. Less stuff that’s destined for landfills, and more resources to help animals, fight poverty, or support early literacy. Uploading my preschooler’s most recent heart-filled masterpiece will make this perfect for Valentine’s Day.
Stand Up To Forced Labor
According to UNICEF, about 150 million children between the ages of 5 and 16 are child laborers. In India, a recent sweatshop raid found fourteen kids, between 8 and 14, forced to work up to 15 hours per day to make Christmas decorations. Imagining an eight-year-old making baubles, ones that my five-year-old may then have put on our tree, fills me with deep sadness.
What can we do? One place to start is by calculating your Slavery Footprint – the estimated number of forced laborers, most working to provide raw materials like cotton or coffee, who
For me and my three kids, it’s a heart-breaking 66. That’s more motivation to consume less, and, when I do make purchases, do my best to buy fair trade coffee and other products. These eight apps, designed to promote more thoughtful, ethical consumption, can help. Slavery Footprint also offers an app, Made in a Free World, that lets you contact stores and brands to ask them to work for a slavery-free supply chain.
Share Stories of Kids Making a Difference
My two preschool-aged kids think that the third grader down the street is the bee’s knees. He rides his scooter to school with a pack of elementary-aged kids – and so my boys have begged for scooters for months. I’m going to make the most of this tendency to look up to bigger kids by sharing stories of kids making a difference, to show my own children how they, too, can can make the world a better place. One such story is Ana’s, who as an eleven-year-old created a nonprofit organization to support nutrition, education, and girls’ leadership in Peru. Peruvian Hearts has provided everything from a clean water filtration system to academic tutoring at an orphanage outside of Cusco, all growing out of the vision and leadership of a then pre-teen.