The holiday season is officially upon us and although it is accompanied by troves of visitors and a retail rush which is nothing short of chaos, it also comes with an outpouring of compassion and generosity. It is truly a spectacular time of year that centers around love and togetherness,
being thankful for what we have, and giving to others. The greatest thing about this season is seeing the kindness that carries over from stranger to stranger, and there has never been a more opportune time to teach our children about the importance of giving.

Raising our children to become compassionate, contributing members of society is not something we can accomplish on our own. It’s just as
important for our children to see the root of humanity and miracles that result when we work together as it is to tell them about it. The spirit of giving that proliferates during the holiday season allows our children to bear witness to selfless acts of kindness on a larger scale and presents a great way to encourage them to take part.

How we can harness this moment & teach our children to open their hearts to others:

Everyone has something to give. Whether it’s time, money, or a talent – there is no contribution deemed too small to make a difference. Teaching children that they, too can make a difference will encourage them to do so, especially when they see the value in giving all around them.
Whether it’s donating your time, items, money or talents, giving to those in need as a family can help your children experience the kindness that exists in our tumultuous world. Actively contributing with others helps children to feel like they are making a difference – and they are! And you are, too, not only as a member of society, but as a parent raising a kind-hearted citizen.

There are plenty for opportunities for the whole family to help out during this holiday season in San Antonio. Check out these family-friendly volunteer opportunities to see how you can best help:

San Antonio Food Bank
In September, the San Antonio Food Bank experienced a critical shortage. Help to replenish supplies for those in need or donate your time to make a difference. There’s a little something for everyone at the Food Bank. Opportunities range from helping in the urban garden to sorting non-perishables, and they host a variety of events during the holiday season. For more information, check out https://safoodbank.org/ways-to-help/give-time-opportunities/.

Meals on Wheels
A great way for children to volunteer their time and learn compassion is delivering meals to people who are homebound. For more information, visit: www.mowsatx.org/getinvolved or contact volunteer services at 210-735-5115.

Elf Louise Christmas Project
Bring Christmas to children in need. Your family can help wrap gifts, be toy stockers, provide warehouse help and dress up Santas with the Elf Louise Christmas Project. There are opportunities for children of all ages. For more information, check out: http://elflouise.org/wp/volunteer-opportunities/.

Toys for Tots
Consider setting up an event in your community workplace, or host a party of your own, and encourage your children to help collect toys for children in need this holiday season. For more information, check out: https://san-antonio-tx.toysfortots.org.

The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio
Although the opportunity to volunteer with this organization is limited to ages 18 and up, your child can still make a difference in the life of a patient by donating items. To view a wish list of items and to arrange for a donation drop-off, please visit: www.christushealth.org/santa-rosa/childrens-hospital-of-san-antonio/giving-back/gifts.

Any Baby Can
Any Baby Can welcome family volunteers on a regular basis and/or to sponsor a family through their Holiday Giving program. For more information on these opportunities, visit: www.anybabycansa.org/volunteer/.

Salvation Army
The Salvation Army offers a multitude of volunteer opportunities from food distribution to assisting children with special needs. For the holiday season, you can also volunteer to be an Angel Tree Toy Shop helper and help set up the Toy Shop for distribution by sorting and packing donated gifts. Check out www.salvationarmytexas.org/sanantonio/ for more information.

SAMMinistries
Volunteer as a family or group at SAMMinistries. There are many ways to make a difference here, from grounds upkeep to serving food and helping with special events. To find out more, visit: www.samm.org/get-involved/volunteer-opportunities/ or call contact Volunteer Services at 210-321-5639.

Each one of us has the ability to give to others. If volunteering your time or making a monetary donation is not possible for you right now, consider other ways in which your family can give. Do you have a special talent that could help others? Is there an elderly neighbor in your community who could use help with lawn upkeep? A parent whose significant other is deployed that can use help? A neighbor who would enjoy a baked treat, food, or maybe just a visit? A local church where you and your family can serve? However you choose to volunteer, the holidays are the perfect time to show your children what it means to be servant-hearted. The act of serving others does wonders for the soul. It confirms that we are all a part of something bigger and that together, we can accomplish great things. During this season, give your children the experience of selfless acts of kindness and watch how it molds them into compassionate adults.

By Pamela V. Miller