Holiday charitable giving with kids

Much earlier this year, an old and dear friend, SJ, gave each of my boys a Moonjar. It's a three-part bank whose compartments are dedicated to saving, spending and sharing. I told them that we were going to divvy into equal thirds the money in each of their banks and that when Christmastime came, we'd read about some charities and they could decide which would serve as the recipient(s) of each "share" jar. They were so wonderfully amenable to dividing up their money and seemed on board with charitable donation. If you recall Jack's last foray into giving, it was amazing and inspiring and literally brought me to tears. And I know it meant a lot to him too, because he's mentioned it frequently since.

Today was our donation day, so after school and snacks, the boys brought down their Moonjars, and we counted out what each had in his "share" fund. Jack had $12.36 and Oliver had $7.70. I gave each of them $2 from the fine jar (the jar they pay a quarter into for purposefully dissolving whole bars of soap and for egregious use of butt/penis talk.). Then we talked about the Fresh Air Fund (Jack's favorite) and the Animal Legal Defense Fund. I planned to include the Equal Justice Initiative too, but both were so eager about the FAF and ALDF that they insisted on splitting their money between those two.

I said I'd match their amounts but first, each boy had to tell me a one- or two-sentence rationale for choosing these charitable groups because I want to write the charity a letter with our donation. Jack said that "Summer camp is so much fun, and I want other kids to be able to go too." Oliver said, "I really like animals, and I don't like people to hurt them. I am donating to help protect them."

The boys learn a lot at school about community and kindness and helping others, and I think this just-launched tradition of ours (I donate every Christmastime so doing it with them is very special for me, too) makes what they learn even more meaningful. Using their own money, sending that off towards organizations that mean something to them drives everything home in a tangible way. I very much want them to grow up with a deeply-instilled sense of charity in its truest, most dignified meaning. Thank you, SJ, for the Moonjars. Cheers to you, Jack and Oliver, for so generously and enthusiastically sharing.

Happy Holidays!

If you struggle to find trustworthy, well-run charities, I've done a lot of research, and in addition to those noted above, I also love:

The Fistula Foundation National Resources Defense Council Human Rights Campaign