Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tough reality

Kids aren't the only ones who pretend. As adults, there are a lot of things we like to imagine about ourselves and our world. Those of us with something to eat and somewhere to sleep at night tend to pretend that poverty isn't a reality. Or that it isn't a big deal. The unsettling reality is that poverty covers much of the world's population - like a worn blanket covering the globe with only a few patches of affluence showing through.

When I heard that this year's Blog Action Day was focused on poverty, I wanted to share activities to help children understand poverty and what they could do to help others - and I will - but I realized that kids aren't the only ones who need to be reminded that poverty is real and prompted to do something about it. Yes, times are tough. But I think we can all find something to share.

Speaking of which, revenue from purchases made in the Bold Avenue shop today will go to Compassion. You can get started on your holiday shopping and help children in need.

So even though this list is focused on children, I've starred (*) suggestions which apply to anyone.

Five Ways to Teach Children about Poverty and Giving:

1. Start small - Talk about sharing with friends and siblings. Do you already give to a church, charitable organization, etc.? Talk about what motivates you. Find ways to involve your children in ways you are already giving time or money. If you're not giving, look for ways as a family that you can share what you have.

2.* Help the hungry in your community - Donate time, money or food to a food bank near you. Kids can help you pick out their favorite non-perishable food items at the grocery store (might be easiest to stick to the canned food aisle) to give to children in need. Older kids can go with you to volunteer time at the food bank. (Information on Arizona food banks)

3. Time to learn - offers age-specific curricula that looks at "the problems of hunger, malnutrition and food insecurity." Not only would this be great for teachers and homeschooling parents, but it would be worth perusing for other parents, as well. The curricula offer great ideas for activities and discussion starters, even if you're not going to go through the entire course.

I support Compassion's Christian child charity. You can too. Sponsor a child today.

4.* Think globally - Child sponsorship is an amazing way to make a difference and connect with the people behind the need. Although they're unrelated, in the last couple days, I've read this fabulous post about what made one man decide to sponsor a child and a very moving story about the effect of sponsorship on one boy's life. I am most familiar with Compassion and have experience with World Vision (find activities and volunteer opportunities here), but there are other organizations out there, as well. The important thing is to find a reputable one and get involved.

5.* Empty yourself - Understanding requires an open mind and, often, empty hands. Empty Bowls events are a beautiful illustration of this. You make a donation, choose a handcrafted bowl (which you keep as a reminder), are served a simple meal of soup and bread, and, hopefully, remember those who survive on so much less than the abundance that we know. Use this as an opportunity to give your children a window into the lives of others.

Whatever you do, let's use our imaginations to find creative solutions to the problem of poverty - rather than trying to ignore it.


1 - City) by fokus Lima. CCL. in Rimac (Lima), Peru.
2 - Children) by Julien Harneis. CCL. in Mugunga, Rwanda.
3 - Feeding birds) by dannyman. CCL. in Barcelona, Spain.
4 - Food bank) by Jeremy Toeman. CCL. in San Francisco, California.
5 - Classroom) by carf. CCL. in Sítio Joaninha (São Paulo), Brazil.
6 - Compassion banner
7 - Empty bowls) by Jeff Kubina. CCL. in Montgomery Run, Maryland.
8 - Girl and photo) by Tom@HK. CCL. in Shatin, Hong Kong.

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