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Ways to Give Back as a Family During the Holidays

In honor of Giving Tuesday, teach your kids that giving is more important – and more meaningful – than receiving by donating to charities in Dallas-Fort Worth and around the world.

Thanks to the savings to be had on Black Friday, Shop Small Saturday and Cyber Monday, it’s easier than ever to fill Santa’s sleigh with gifts and goodies for your whole brood. But somewhere on your shopping list between nieces, nephews, little cousins and (oh yeah) your own kids, make room for people in need. Rounding out the blitz of post-Thanksgiving sales is Giving Tuesday, an international event that honors charitable giving of all kinds. Today, take the opportunity to teach your kids that giving is more important – and more meaningful – than receiving. Help your kids pick out an appropriate gift for kids across the globe, or plug in to a local charity by donating toys, clothes or crafts to families in Dallas-Fort Worth.

Looking for more ways to give back as a family? Check out our roundup of kid-friendly volunteer opportunities in North Texas

As you exchange gifts with family members this season, remind your kids that other children around the world could use some gifts, too. World Vision and Heifer International both offer online catalogues with a variety of vital gifts for families in need – everything from a goat to soccer balls to irrigation pumps to education for young girls. Browse the catalogue together and help your kids pick out something in your price range. Teach your kids about the sustainable value of farm animals and that giving the one-time gift of a goat provides milk for a long time to come. Help them to understand that even though they might never put a cow on their wish list, others would be thrilled to get a cow for Christmas.

In addition to animals, the International Rescue Committee offers other untraditional gifts, such as mosquito nets for $18, school supplies for $20 and even a year of school for $58. From now until December 31, all gifts will be matched dollar-for-dollar, so your family can do twice as much good with your donation. When you choose a gift, you and your kids can send a personalized message to the recipient.

There are so many opportunities to give around the Dallas-Fort Worth area at Christmastime, from the Salvation Army bell-ringers to local food pantries to charitable giving to nonprofits like RAICES, which supports underserved immigrant children and families in Texas. But buying items for other kids or doing craft projects might interest your kids more than putting money in a cup (but if they feel like being generous with their allowance, you can always encourage that, too).

Shopping Spree
As much as kids complain about being dragged along on shopping trips, they always seem to perk up when you arrive at the toy aisle. So this season, take the kids to the toy store and let them loose – you may be surprised how much fun your kids have buying toys for other children.

For more opportunities to give back, check out our list of toy drives across Dallas-Fort Worth

Several charities take toys, books and games during the holiday season. Toys For Tots has drop-off locations around the DFW area for new, unwrapped toys for ages 0–12 that will be distributed to children in the local community. Check the website for a list of drop-off locations; be sure to call ahead before you go.

SafeHaven of Tarrant County needs new, unwrapped toys, books and clothes for the families at its emergency shelters who are victims of domestic violence. You can place these items in one of their Santa’s Sacks around Tarrant County December 7–15. Learn more here, or contact Cristie King at cking@safehaventc.org for more information.

Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children also collects toys, books, games and craft supplies for its patients. Visit the hospital’s website for a list of patient needs and take your kids shopping for a few items on the list. For the more web savvy family, peruse Scottish Rite’s hospital-wide wishlist on Amazon.

Homemade Gifts
If your kids get more excited about making messes than going shopping, corral your crew for family crafting time. Local organizations collect craft projects to distribute, but you can always take homemade cookies and cards to elderly neighbors or people who may not have family in town for the holidays. Look for ways that your children’s handiwork can spread holiday cheer.

The local chapters of Binky Patrol and Project Linus collect blankets for people in need. No sew? No problem – you and your kids can make and donate no-sew fleece blankets (the kind with the knotted fringe on the edges). Take a trip to a fabric store and pick out two kinds of fleece. Then help your kids measure and cut the fleece and spend some family time tying knots. Pop in a favorite Christmas movie while you’re tying for even more festive fun. When you’re finished, contact local chapter leaders for drop-off information. Be sure to check the website for more detailed instructions before you get started.

Meals on Wheels of Tarrant County is always looking for holiday cards and crafts to give to their clients. Head to a craft store and let your kids pick out festive paper and other materials to make homemade Christmas ornaments, glittery cards and other seasonal projects (popsicle sticks make great snowflakes). Encourage your kids to use their imagination and to put a lot of care into each project.


This article was first published in Dec. 2012; updated in Nov. 2018 with additional reporting by Alexis Manrodt.