Thankfulness and compassion are big topics at my house. My work at Food for the Hungry has helped my wife and me to spark conversations about how privileged we are as Americans. Catalysts for these conversations include both Child Sponsorship and the Gift Catalog.
The Lessons of Child Sponsorship
Through the Food for the Hungry child sponsorship program, my family sponsored a 12-year-old Mozambican girl named Marie. (Read about that here.)
Even though Marie lives far away, she became a part of our family. We continue to pray for her daily, despite the fact that Marie aged out of the program recently and moved away from the community. It was hard when we heard Marie had aged out, but even that gave me an opportunity to talk to my kids about the opportunities our sponsorship helped to open for Marie. My kids now understand the value of education. We talked about the education Marie was able to get because we sponsored her. Getting an education helps girls like Marie to shed the chains of poverty, bonds that previously trapped generations of her family.
Our family unanimously decided to sponsor another 12-year-old girl after Marie left the program. Now, we pray for both Marie and our new sponsored child, Laura.
The Food for the Hungry Gift Catalog features a piglet named Wigglesworth. My kids love this character; he’s our hero. He’s helped me teach the kids about differences between our life and the lives of children who struggle with extreme poverty.
We start looking through the catalog after Thanksgiving. The kids put the catalog on the coffee table, and we sit together on the couch. As we flip pages, we answer funny questions Wigglesworth asks, talk about how the products help kids around the world and decide what to give as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children. That in itself is a math lesson. I set a budget for how much we can spend, and the kids choose the items. They figure out how much they’ve spent and how much is left to spend.
Before we started this tradition, my kids knew Christmas as a time to celebrate the birth of Christ. It troubled me that they also thought it was a time when Jesus gave them gifts. Now, they know that it’s a time when we give gifts to help others thrive, the way Jesus gave of himself so we can thrive.
Fostering Positive Character Traits
My wife and I have found that both Child Sponsorship and the Gift Catalog have helped us foster positive character traits in our children. Things like compassion, thankfulness and generosity.
Not only is it an awesome way to teach, but it’s a fun way to give our charitable contributions at the end of the year. The kids engage with what you’re giving to and why. When the kids say they want to buy a desk or chickens, we ask why and talk about the benefit it will give another child.
For us, it’s been a win-win-win experience. The kids think they’ve done their job of helping others, we parents feel like we’ve done our job of teaching our children as the Bible instructs us to do, and some of the world’s most vulnerable people get things they need to pull themselves out of poverty. How great is that!
Looking for fun ways to instill thankfulness, compassion and generosity in the hearts of the children in your life? As part of Food for the Hungry’s commitment to helping families develop positive character traits like these, we’ve developed a series of free resources you might want to check out.
Fun ways to lead your kids to a thankful heart
7 Days to Teach Your Child a Thankful Heart includes a set of family activities designed to help you show your kids all of the blessings they can be thankful for.
Your family will:
- Go on excursions to notice the blessings around you
- Create fun crafts showing your thankfulness
- Talk about Scripture verses about thankfulness Share a thankfulness message around a family meal
Help your child develop a compassionate heart
With 7 Lessons to Teach Your Kids About Serving the Poor, you’ll introduce your children to the idea of compassion from a biblical perspective.
In this free eBook, you’ll discover:
- Lessons that instill compassion from a biblical viewpoint.
- Devotionals that help your child discover God’s heart for the poor.
- Fun activities that show your children how they can put their compassion into action to make a difference for people in need.
- And a Scripture verse for each day.