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POV: How to give gifts from the heart

The holidays offer parents a perfect opportunity to teach kids of any age about the spirit of giving – not just to family and friends, but to those in need.

There are so many ways to introduce our kids to the beauty of compassion and thoughtfulness, and we’re fortunate to have wonderful programs, both here in the Capital District and nationwide, where people can volunteer or gift things like toys, coats and meals.

The other day, I overheard my friend’s 6-year-old son ask if he could do something “all on his own” to give. It started me thinking of ways even a young child can do something to make a real impact on the life of another.

What I found is it can be easy and inexpensive — or even free — for a kid to give on his or her own.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

• Instead of (or in addition to) mailing a check to your favorite local charity, drive your child to the charity’s office and give cash, personally. The charity representative will likely be very touched, and you’ll create a lasting memory for your child.

• Any child can make a simple craft, painting or other handmade gift and bring it to a local nursing home. Ask for a resident who may not have family or visitors for the holidays. Include a card and visit with the resident. Even a small item and a short visit will make all the difference.

• Got a shoebox (or two, or 10)? Since kids are constantly growing out of their shoes, they can save the boxes for the Mohawk/Hudson Humane Society (MHHM). The MHHM also needs other things kids can likely find around the house, like newspapers and redeemable cans or bottles – check out the wish list on their website at www.mohawkhumane.org/wishlist.html.

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