Teaching kids the "facts of life" can be fun. Everybody should know how to do it. I'm not talking about the "facts" of where babies come from. I'm talking about teaching kids the "facts" of how to be charitable. I am constantly impressed when I speak with young people; that is, middle school or younger, about charitable ways to help poor or suffering people.
The St. Nicholas Project sponsored this past December an essay contest for middle school students in Vermont Catholic schools. Students were asked to come up with some fundraising ideas for the Kurn Hattin Homes for Children. (See "Young Catholic Philanthropists" blog February 21, 2018). They had some marvelous ideas, but more importantly, they had some marvelous enthusiasm! I'm going to try to incorporate one of their ideas this December 2019, so stay tuned.
Last weekend, July 7, we had the Catholic family day at St. Anne's Shrine with a free giveaway of T-shirts for children who want to support Kurn Hattin. The kids wanted to wear the T-shirts around the Shrine and then "model" them in a photograph so that more people would know about the children's home. Many of their parents have been supporters of Kurn Hattin through the St. Nicholas Project's outreach to Catholics in Vermont. I was so pleased by their willingness to model the yellow and green T-shirts which say "I support Kurn Hattin Homes for Children."
It is never too early to teach children how to be charitable. That is, by showing them that philanthropy and charity are important because there are a lot of people in crisis in the world. But also, that philanthropy can be fun because it helps people have a better life and it makes you feel good about yourself. Teaching children the Catholic values of philanthropy and charity when they are impressionable might help stave off some of that adolescent cynicism which will inevitably occur as they get older. More importantly, it will inculcate in them a life-long pattern of thinking of how they can help children and families in desperate situations.
The facts of life are simple: You will meet a lot of people in the world, and in your community, who are suffering for a variety of reasons. You have the ability to change their lives. That's a fact.