We are thankful to partner with Elijah’s Closet for this educational post to help spotlight a local nonprofit on the Gulf Coast.
I remember being 8 years old and walking down the toy aisle with my grandmother. I discovered a Barbie convertible with headlights that really worked! My mother told my grandmother that I could not have the new toy which resulted in me throwing myself down on the floor of the store and kicking and screaming until I was given into.
As the President of Elijah’s Closet (EC), an organization whose mission is to assist families with children in foster care and families with children susceptible of going into foster care, I spend many hours helping those in need.
I can tell you the desire to help others was not instilled in me at birth. When I didn’t get that Barbie convertible, another little girl with bigger problems than mine was not my first thought. No, the desire to help others was something that grew in me because I was exposed to situations that required it.
Children mimic what parents model to them.
Have you heard that saying, “We steer where we stare”? Children mimic us as parents. They watch us give money to the veteran on the corner. They hear us tell people at the grocery store to have a nice day. They see us pick up a plastic bag while walking along the beach.
Giving is more than going through outgrown clothes.
Every day we have the opportunity to teach our children to be giving of their time, kind words, money, skills, etc. by intentionally exposing them to situations they may not have the opportunity to experience any other way.
A SPIRIT OF GIVING ENCOURAGES OUR CHILDREN TO:
- Recognize and acknowledge those that are in need
- Feel a responsibility to assist our fellow neighbor
- Feel capable of positively impacting an entire community
I asked EC’s Vice-President, Celeste Keeling, where her passion for helping others came from and why it is important to instill that desire in her daughters, Violet (6) and Emory (5). She explained, “Some of my earliest memories are tagging along with my mother to inner city programs to feed breakfast to children, folding church bulletins on Saturday mornings, and Christmas shopping for less fortunate families. Teaching our girls to help others teaches them humility, kindness, and empathy.
The more they see their parents giving and volunteering, the more “normal” those thoughts and actions become.”
If you’re like me, you teach your children they have the ability to do anything they put their minds to. Instilling a giving spirit in our children is a key way to raise up productive and loving members of society. My hope for my 15 year old son, Brayden, is that when he recognizes an issue, he confidently and courageously leads change to remedy it. As with all parenting, lessons take time. I can tell you that I’m grateful I no longer have the mindset of that 8 year old little girl who felt like her world would fall apart if that Barbie convertible didn’t come home with her.
Find a local charity or need in your community and expose your children to it, in whatever capacity that looks like to you.
Learn about the charity with your child. Visit the charity with your child. Raising a good giver doesn’t have to be hard.
Yes, giving is more than going through outgrown clothes, but it’s a damn good place to start.
INFO ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nikki Williams is the President and Co-Founder of Elijah’s Closet. Auditor for the State of Mississippi, mom to 15 year old Brayden and 3 dogs, wife to Austin, and a traveling engineer. She is a former foster parent.