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Taking It Home
Giving brings happiness at every stage of its expression. We experience joy in forming the intention to be generous, we experience joy in the actual act of giving something, and we experience joy in remembering the fact that we have given. — Buddha
IN TODAY'S SESSION...
Today the children heard a true story about Uthman ibn Affan, who gave away all of the goods on his caravan to the starving villagers of Medina during a drought. We talked about the rewards of being generous. We made modeling dough and gave it to some younger friends in our congregation. The children experienced being generous with their time and enjoyed some modeling-dough fun time with the younger children.
EXPLORE THE TOPIC TOGETHER. TALK ABOUT...
Make it a point to notice acts of generosity together — on the part of family members, friends, or strangers. Discuss together how it feels to receive a gift, as well as to give a gift.
EXTEND THE TOPIC TOGETHER. TRY...
Consider adopting the following practice. If your child receives an allowance, for every dollar that you give your child, set aside a dollar that he/she can donate to charity. Allow the money to build over a period of time. Then talk with your child about what sort of needs he/she would like to support with this money.
Go online together to explore organizations that address the needs your child is most interested in. To name just a few, these might include:
Habitat for Humanity , which creates affordable housing
The Heifer Project for world-wide poverty relief through sustainable agriculture assistance
The National Audobon Society , which supports conservation and restoration of ecosystems
Locally, your family might like to focus on donation to your Unitarian Universalist congregation, a no-kill animal shelter, a hunger relief project, or a local museum. The goal is to empower your child to make a donation to a cause that he or she cares about. You can also set aside an equivalent amount of money as "savings," teaching your child a valuable lesson in financial management.
A FAMILY RITUAL
There is a link between gratitude and generosity. To cultivate generosity, set aside a daily time when family members focus on and name the things for which they are grateful. When all have shared, light a candle of gratitude. As you experience the fullness of your blessings, take a moment to think about the people who do not share in those blessings. Light a candle of compassion. Next, take a moment to consider and name ways you can extend your bounty to them. Light a candle of commitment.
A FAMILY GAME
Practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty. As a family, come up with a list of things you can do to bring cheer to a neighbor, friend, or even strangers. Set aside a regular time to act together, using your list. Or, use the list many times. Possibilities include: writing anonymous thank you cards to workers in local establishments, leaving flowers at someone's doorstep, scattering coins in a neighborhood park for others to find, compiling a basket of toys or books and giving it anonymously to a child, or creating artwork and leaving it in someone's mailbox.
Read books together about people who have made a difference in the lives of others through generosity with time, talents and treasure. Learn about the lives of people such as Mother Teresa, Oprah Winfrey, and Bill and Melinda Gates.
Recommended family reading: Thanks & Giving All Year Long by Marlo Thomas and Friends and I Can Make A Difference: A Treasure to Inspire Our Children, by Marian Wright Edelman.
To learn more about the spiritual benefits of generosity read The Giving Heart: Unlocking the Transformative Power of Generosity in Your Life by M. J. Ryan and The Courage to Give: Inspiring Stories of People Who Triumphed over Tragedy to Make a Difference in the World by Jackie Waldman.