Teaching Students the True Meaning of the Holidays

The holiday season is a time filled with happiness and cheer for most of us, but we often don’t realize that everyone out there isn’t always fortunate enough to be shopping for gifts. The world is a very hectic place, and we are all so busy with work and family life that we don’t always take the time to notice that the world is also a place where many people are suffering from illness, loneliness, poverty, or other circumstances. Take the time this holiday season to help students see what they can do to make a difference for those who may not feel so cheerful.

The holiday season has become so commercialized that buying presents is the central theme that we focus on rather than the celebration itself. There is certainly nothing wrong with wanting to purchase gifts for our children and loved ones but we sometimes get lost in the commercialization to the point where we even go into debt during the holidays. It is important to remember the true meaning of the holiday spirit and to carry that spirit with us all year long. Although you can’t change the world overnight, nor can you help everyone, there are ways that you and your class can spread holiday cheer to those less fortunate.

Give to those who are in need. If you don’t have much cash to spend but still want to help out, contribute to organizations that collect food, clothing or toys during the holiday season. Your school or class can also start a food, clothing or toy drive. If you know someone in your class or school that has lost a family member or a home due to fire, get the administration, other teachers, and your class together and plan a way to help the family out. You can donate cash, food, household goods and more. The sky is the limit.

Donating your time can be just as important as donating your money. Your class can donate time by helping dish out meals at a local soup kitchen. Your class could make festive cards and send them to other children in local hospitals that can use some cheering up this holiday. You can also contact nursing homes and see how your class can spread some holiday cheer.

Students can raise money through fundraising or donations to help others around the world. Some unique projects and organizations that children will enjoy helping out with fundraising efforts include:

  1. DonorsChoose.org is a site where teachers all over the U.S. need your help to bring their classroom dreams to life. For as little as $1 it’s easy for anyone to help a classroom in need. Public school teachers from every corner of America create classroom project requests, and you can give any amount to the project that inspires you. You can find a class in your same area or one on the other side of the nation that needs help. Maybe you’ll even connect with them through letters or Skype.
  2. Heifer.org is an organization where donations go toward buying an animal such as a cow, goat, rabbits, geese, or alpaca for less fortunate people in other countries. Giving an animal is like giving someone a small business, providing wool, milk, eggs and more. Animal donations can provide families a hand up, increasing access to medicine, school, food and a sustainable livelihood. For as little as $10, children can learn about how their donations will help these families. What a fantastic learning opportunity for students!

There are many ways to help others during the holiday season, so be creative and most of all, get your class involved. You can touch the hearts of those less fortunate by extending a helping hand. Helping others will teach students about having empathy and compassion for others. We can make the world a better place, one act of kindness at a time.