Last Sunday, I watched actress, Meryl Streep well up with tears when she referenced the earthquake in Haiti during her acceptance speech at the Golden Globe awards. She said she was torn between putting on her “happy movie-star face” and knowing what was going on in the real world. She also mentioned she thought of her mother, who would have advised her to be grateful that she has the money to donate to Partners in Health.
Let’s face it, most of us are not movie stars with multi-million dollar bank accounts. But, we are capable of extreme empathy and wanting to help. People in the media, from Streep to Clinton/Bush are encouraging giving cash in the wake of Haitian tragedy. While not everyone can give cash, there is something in the midst of all this giving that is important for our children to learn.
As a teacher who had to start my first day of school in New York the day after 9/11, I know that children develop a sense of empathy when they learn about the difficult circumstances of other children and families. Teaching environmental and global awareness to kids is paramount. Kids instinctively want to help others, but they usually can’t all give cash.
3 Ways Kids Can Help:
Unplug Your Kids has a wonderful list of fundraising ideas that kids can participate in.
2. Learn More
The New York Times provides satellite photos from GeoEye that show Port-au-Prince before and after the January 12th earthquake. It is a very cool interactive learning tool. The more knowledge, the more kids are motivated to help.
3. Make Something and Donate It
Craft Hope shares handmade goods with the less fortunate. They are collecting donated wares from crafters in the Etsy community. The Etsy store, Craft Hope for Haiti is accepting and selling handmade goods to benefit Haitian relief efforts.
If your family decides to donate money, consider discussing with your children where your money will go. They may want to help in the decision-making process. Kid’s can directly relate to giving to children and animal charities. American Humane, is dedicated to protecting both children and animals. UNICEF and Save The Children have active emergency campaigns funds for Haiti.
Just think how big the payoff will be if every parent takes this horrific tragedy and uses it to encourage global awareness, empathy and a giving spirit in their kids.