Maybe it is just a sign that I am getting older, but there is little I love more than seeing the look on someone’s face when they receive a well-timed, thoughtfully given gift.
As a mother, it has been an enduring priority to help my children learn the joy of generosity. To reinforce this value, I have sought out places where they could serve & tangibly donate. It was important to me that they experience the ‘warm fuzzies’ of meeting a need and seeing that donations do make a difference.
Last year, I was convicted that I should also be allowing them the experience of giving and NOT getting the credit.
As young children it seemed vital that they see both sides of the giving equation. Little ones thrive on the hands on experience of learning to give and to humbly accept the thank you. As our offspring age, however, it is important that our lessons grow with them. We build on prior experiences in order to establish a firm foundation.
In a world that seems to equate things done in secret with evil, I wanted my burgeoning tweens to experience the exhilaration of kindness undercover. I started by cluing them in on ‘secret missions’…anonymously paying a power bill for a cancer patient, mailing an anonymous gift card to a single grandmamma raising another generation, paying for breakfast for strangers.
As elementary aged students, they LOVED it!
My children reveled in being brought in to a grown up secret and being trusted that they were ‘old enough’ to not tell. We talked a lot about letting God get the credit instead of us because everything we have has come from His Hand in the first place.
It is great fun to imagine the responses we are not able to witness first hand. My kids even came up with a couple of secret missions of their own! (I did have to draw the line with their budgets. They were willing to be quite generous with their parents’ money!)
This year, at the suggestion of another Mama friend who shares this value, we are building up a fund for these type of projects. I keep a clear plastic jar in my closet where we deposit loose change, money found in the dryer and a portion of our allowance. It’s amazing how quickly this type of fund can build.
Many friends of mine have made precious memories using this easy to implement family tradition. One family friend shared with me the great lengths they went to in having an out of town relative deliver their hand painted jar full of money to our school custodian so their identity would be concealed.
There is a time and place for everything—so our opportunities to give and serve are sometimes undercover and other times quite personal and face-to-face.
While the intent for our family’s jar was initially for someone special God laid on our hearts around Christmas, need (and giving) are year-round endeavors. Led by my children’s interest in local hungry people, we took the proceeds of our jar to our community kitchen one morning this Summer before any of the patrons had arrived for their free lunch. There was no anonymity in this mission, but the volunteers were kind enough to show my children around the kitchen and explain that their $77 would feed 440 people. A powerful lesson indeed!
If you haven’t yet tried a secret giving project with your children I recommend it. It’s fun, memory making with a purpose. The recipients will benefit and God gets the glory!
In the spirit of this article, this author asked to remain anonymous 😉