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8 Ideas for Helping Your Kids Experience the Joy of Giving Back

There are so many joys for families to experience together around the holiday season: Decking the halls with festive decorations, decorating cookies together, staying up late for a cup of hot chocolate and an extra bedtime story. We have no doubt that your family's traditions are already filling your kids' season with wonderful memories, and with such a happy energy in the air, you may be looking for ways to introduce your kids to the joy of giving back as another joy of the season. In the spirit of lending a helping hand, we’ve partnered with Minute Maid to come up with ways for families of all backgrounds and values to go out and support members of their community this holiday season.

We know this time of year can be stressful for parents, but Minute Maid wants to remind you that every effort you make—big or small—makes an even bigger impact than you think. That effort may be as simple as spending a few extra minutes together with your family, so we made sure that every activity on our list can double as both a teachable moment and a great way to cash in on some quality time. Check out our list of ideas for teaching the importance of giving back below, and remember that no matter what you choose to do with your family this holiday season, it's certain to be memorable in the best way.

1. Donate Old Books, Clothes, And Toys

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If your family has closets full of stuff they don't use anymore, what better time than when you're inside hiding from the cold to clean them out? Get the kids involved by encouraging them to pick out clothes they've outgrown, toys they don't play with anymore, or books they no longer read. Explain that if your family donates these things to a thrift store or homeless shelter, they'll bring joy to another little boy or girl who may really need them.

2. Help Out At A Food Bank, Coat Drive, Or Toy Drive

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Sign up to help a local nonprofit organize their donations. A food bank may need help assembling grocery boxes for people who are homebound. Toy drives often need assistance sorting toys by age or gender. Clothing or coat drives need to sort donations by size. Talk to your kids about how they're helping to feed someone who may be hungry, or helping give a coat to someone who may not own enough warm clothing.

3. Visit An Assisted Living Facility Or Nursing Home

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The holidays can be hard on elderly people who don't have families nearby. Check when facilities near you like to have visitors, and bring the kids by for some bonding time with seniors. Many residents appreciate having kids around to sing songs, play board games, or talk about shared interests. Afterwards, you can explain the importance of reaching out to people who might feel lonely.

4. Make Gifts For Rescue Animals

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While many animal shelters won't accept volunteers under 16 or 18 for liability reasons, you and your kids can help out by making pet toys or blankets for the animals. There are many free patterns for no-sew pet toys and blankets online, and kids can help put them together. If your kids love animals, they'll feel good about making something special for local rescue dogs and cats.

5. Do A Good Deed For A Neighbor

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If you have a neighbor who is injured or sick, offer to help out occasionally. Can you and your kids pick up some groceries for them while you're at the store, check their mail, or take their dog for a walk? These small favors will strengthen your relationship with your neighbors, and your kids will see how even simple actions can help people in need.

6. Send Holiday Cards To People In The Hospital

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Feeling crafty? If you have a friend or relative in the hospital, tell your kids how much a handmade card might mean to them. Get out the construction paper and crayons, and encourage the kids to be creative. If you don't know anyone who's sick, consider making cards for hospitalized kids who are missing out on the typical holiday fun.

7. Make A Giving Jar

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Ask your child to help you decorate an empty jar, and use it to collect your family's spare change. When the jar is full, use it to make a donation to a nonprofit organization that's important to your family. Get input from your kids about where to donate the money, and encourage them to put their change in the jar, too.

8. Check Which Local Organizations Need Help

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Volunteermatch.org lists volunteer opportunities around the country, and the site allows you to narrow your search to activities that are kid-friendly. If you find lots of places that could use your family's help, ask your kids which one means the most to them. If they discover that giving back can be interesting and fun, they may be more excited about continuing to volunteer after the holidays are over.

This post is sponsored by Minute Maid.

Images: Fotolia (4), Stocksy (1), Shutterstock (1), Offset (3).