Friday, December 2, 2011

Giving Back

[I asked production editor Jen Garske to share her thoughts as we head into the holiday season.]


Well, the hustle and bustle of the holiday season is upon us. Children are making lists of the presents they hope to receive. Adults are making holiday goodies, writing out holiday cards, and doing their holiday shopping. All wonderful and noble tasks—if they didn’t all converge in one harried month at the end of the year.


This year I didn’t want to forget to give back during this time that can be all “buy, buy, buy” for adults and “me, me, me” for kids. Now more than ever, families need help with the very basics in life. Millions may have felt great about getting the best deals on a recordbreaking Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but many more people are struggling to just put food on the table and stay in their homes.


There are so many ways kids and adults can volunteer and give back to their communities during the holidays. My daughter and I will be ringing the bell at a Salvation Army red kettle next week. My 8-year-old has always loved dropping change in the kettles, so I thought it would be a good way to teach her a little bit about volunteering, while spending some time singing songs and greeting shoppers on a crisp December evening. She still gets to make her gift wish list, but we can take the focus off that for one night and think about someone else’s needs and wishes. It is also a way to honor my mother, whose birthday is next week. She would have been 63, and she would have loved to see her granddaughter brighten someone’s day with an infectious smile and sincere thank you as their coins drop in the red kettle.


In addition to participating in giving back, books can help even the youngest readers see how important it is to help others in their community. Picture books—such as Howard B. Wigglebottom and the Power of Giving—is a great way to get across this idea. 12374


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Readers of all ages can be inspired by reading biographies about famous givers, including Mother Teresa, Lance Armstrong, Bill Gates, and Roberto Clemente. They show that giving back can happen at any stage in our lives. Whether it is giving our time and talents to our neighborhood schools and libraries, favorite charities, or community programs, we can make this time of year a bit brighter for someone who isn't on anyone's list.


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1 comment:

  1. In addition to participating in giving back, books can help even the youngest readers see how important it is to help others in their community. Picture books—such as Howard B. Wigglebottom and the Power of Giving—is a great way to get across this idea.

    I would use these books in my letters for justice unit:

    Project/Lesson Description: Students write a one-page letter to a person in authority. Their goal is to inspire change on a social justice issue. The topic must be personal and local. One student wrote to the bus company. Result: a change in the bus route mid year. Another student wrote to the ACT. Result: a refund for a distraction at the test center. More students wrote to the principal and superintendent. Result: meetings and adult conversations, which exposed a different point of view, and taught students more!

    Education Level
    9-10, 11-12

    Subject(s) Math & Science, Reading & Literacy, Student Engagement & Development, Technology & Innovation

    Learning Objectives:
    I tackle a comprehensive, enlightening and challenging social curriculum. Students learn not only about sentence structure and pronoun agreement, but they also learn more about social justice, advocacy and human rights. Students learn both the power of the written word AND the power of their own voice. They learn each voice matters. Students choose their own topics, so they are engaged and interested. For some, it\'s the first assignment they\'re truly excited about!

    Materials Needed:
    The students also learn proper letter and envelope form, a skill that is needed now more than ever. Students also conduct practical research and schedule interviews.

    Other Information:
    A student wrote to Apple and received a refund for a faulty iPod. A student wrote to Adidas and received $210 for a faulty pair of shoes. A student received a two page single spaced letter back from Governor Doyle regarding the smoking ban. A student received a letter back from McDonald's with a promise not to market fatty foods to children. A student received a three page single spaced letter back from Bill Cords, the athletic director at Marquette explaining a new tournament.

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