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Teaching Children the Love of Mankind

Posted on: November 8th, 2020 by Ira Jackson

Earlier this year, we shared a short video – The Hope Shot with Dr. Jamil Zainaldin – called “Coming Together.” Jamil takes us back to the historic words and actions of Benjamin Franklin, revealing why Americans have a penchant for doing volunteer work that responds to the material, educational and spiritual needs of fellow citizens.

How is it that centuries later, Americans remain the world’s shining example of philanthropy? Simply said, it is in our DNA to pay it forward. From generation to generation, by setting the example, we instill in our children the spirit of giving and volunteerism. We innately “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)

What about during these unprecedented times? 

Children’s lives have been upended by one of the most challenging, life-altering events ever experienced by our families, communities and country. The pandemic is disrupting learning, socializing, worship, sports, activities and routines. It is taking loved ones from children and hampering their major life events, such as birthdays, holidays, vacations and even continuity in health care. 

Kids are feeling isolated, confused and frightened, and don’t understand what’s happening or why. Even though they are by nature resilient, the pandemic’s protracted impact on their emotional and mental health has potential to affect their whole lives.  

helping-each-other.jpgAs caregivers and life guides, today’s parents, teachers and other mentors are working hard to teach children the ways we must take care of ourselves and others to stay physically safe and healthy. 

Similarly, we can mitigate their emotional and mental struggles by teaching them ways to focus on the positives. Philanthropy is one way to channel their energies, to help them tune in to the world around them and act with compassion in their hearts. 

There are many safe and meaningful ways children can contribute and consequently feel the powerful goodness of their actions – all while carrying our legacy of volunteerism forward another generation.

This coming Sunday, November 15, is National Philanthropy Day in the United States. What a perfect day this would be to start a conversation with kids, and inspire and share ideas! 

The Adventures of PhilAnThropy 

Parents, especially, can use this time to engage kids in becoming community-minded at a young age. Dr. Linda Wise McNay is an independent fundraising consultant with Our Fundraising Search and co-author of the children’s book, “The Adventures of PhilAnThropy.” The book shows kids of all ages how contributions big and small can make a lasting impact…

"It's never too early to teach kids about giving back."

boy-holding-coins.jpg“While philanthropy itself is a big word, you can break it down by talking about its definition, which is ‘love of mankind,’" says McNay.

"Talk to kids about this and how they can use it. Our book uses each part of the word as the characters’ names to ensure kids of all ages can grasp the concept,” she says.

Tell them to ‘look for the helpers’

Fred Rogers, known to millions as Mr. Rogers, holds a special place in my heart. He shared the following with attendees in his 2002 commencement speech at Dartmouth College, explaining how adults enable a child’s ability to love others…

“Anyone who has ever been able to sustain good work has had at least one person – and often many – who have believed in him or her. We just don’t get to be competent human beings without a lot of different investments from others… From the time you were very little, you’ve had people who have smiled you into smiling, people who have talked you into talking, sung you into singing, loved you into loving.” – Fred Rogers

kids-with-donation-boxes.jpgOne of Mr. Rogers’ most famous quotes speaks to the fears children are experiencing during today’s pandemic: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”

Children need to be reassured, comforted and protected during the pandemic. It's an equal act of compassion to teach them the love of mankind.

Engaging them in philanthropy is the best teacher of all! 

Help yourself and our youth get through the crisis

There is a wealth of research documenting how positive thoughts and actions, and focusing on gratitude can improve physical and mental health. 

“Although this is a really difficult time, where happiness is kind of taking a dip, that doesn’t mean that we can’t still feel some fulfillment through connecting with our sense of purpose during this time,” says Andrea Bonior, a licensed clinical psychologist who serves on the faculty at Georgetown University. “Happiness research tells us that it’s not just joy and pleasure that bring us happiness, but connecting to a deeper sense of purpose.”

Amen to that! Positive experiences are important right now for everyone in the family – immediate and extended – especially kids.

Please stay safe, well and connected to purpose during the holidays and in the year ahead. We are all going to get through this with helping hands and hearts.


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