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Budding Philanthropists – Giving Thanks and Food This Holiday Season

As someone who works for a foundation that gives grants to hundreds of incredible charities each year, I think a lot of about encouraging generosity, volunteering, and at-home philanthropy – beyond just sharing toys and Goldfish with your brother, though that is a great start.  Especially during the holidays, I want to introduce my boys to giving thanks, giving back, and doing our part to strengthen our community.

So, on Tuesday, Axel and I took a trip to Target, and filled up a cart with food for Thanksgiving baskets for a great local nonprofit, Denver Urban Ministries.  DenUM feeds thousands of people each year, and will distribute close to 500  Thanksgiving baskets this year.

When I asked Tammy, DenUM’s Executive Director (and my former boss at another emergency services organization) if we could help, she not only gave us an idea about what sorts of things DenUM needed – she also arranged for a mini food box-packing session for Axel and his best friend, Mateo, and their little shadow, Jonas. With parents in tow, of course.

Most of the food box packing is done by much older kids who are just a bit better at following directions, and can actually lift the boxes. It was just a bit chaotic, what with Jonas trying to load all four cans of cranberries in one box, Axel running in circles, and frequent breaks for a drink from the water fountain.  As Axel and Mateo aren’t that much bigger than some Thanksgiving turkeys, the low-key, 20-minute packing session was a perfect introduction to compassion, generosity, and sharing with our neighbors.

We’re already looking forward to next year!

Want a few more ideas about ways to get your children into the philanthropic spirit this holiday season, and all year round?   Here are a few other thoughts on ways to raise a giver.

And, if you’re looking for a food pantry to support in your area, check out Feeding America’s food bank locator.

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