The holidays can be a crazy time for children, as they write their wish lists to Santa and watch their parents shop for gifts. The anticipation about getting what they want for the holidays can be overwhelming! As a parent, you might want to show your children that the holiday season can be about other things as well. There are many ways to give and receive, including giving back to your community during this season, and families can participate together.

cannedfoodFood banks: Throughout the year, but especially during the holidays, food banks need donations. You can get your family involved by gathering extra canned food items from your pantry, or purchasing food to be donated. Commonly needed items are low-sugar cereal, peanut butter, canned protein like tuna and boxed items like macaroni and cheese. Many food banks also allow children 12 and older to pack food boxes for families. You can find a local food bank in your area here.

Toys for Tots: Donating a gift to a less advantaged child is another way to help families that are having a difficult time during the holidays. Get your children involved and teach them about giving by letting them pick out a toy to donate. Drop it off at one of the many collection sites around your town. Learn more about Toys for Tots here.

Look around your neighborhood: Do you know a person or family in your neighborhood that could use a little extra holiday cheer? Bring them dinner, clean up the front yard, or even hang their holiday lights. Sometimes the biggest impact you can make is right outside your front door.

There are many ways to show your children that the holidays are about connecting with the people around them and acknowledging the people and things they have to be grateful for. That is a gift in itself, and will resonate with them for their entire lives. Happy Holidays!