Thursday, May 31, 2012

Hope everyone is enjoying this beautiful day.  Check out my new blog for about Kids and Philanthropy.

Lisa Lori

Kids and philanthropy: giving begins at home

BabyCenter Guest Blogger

By: Lisa Lori, President, Lisa Lori Communications
Remember when your parents told you to appreciate what you had? “Think about all of the starving children in the world!”
In those days, helping others consisted of Trick or Treating for UNICEF at Halloween or donating cans for an annual holiday food drive.
Today, there are so many more options for families to participate in philanthropy that are fun, educational and truly inspiring. In fact, children and young adults have become the most motivated volunteers and fundraisers because once they find a cause they love, they dedicate themselves with gusto! Some of the best ideas come from kids themselves.

Lori Boys shelves and bears 300x200 Kids and philanthropy: giving begins at home
But like anything else in our busy lives, getting started is always the hardest part. To find a cause or organization that resonates with your family, research it together based on criteria you all can agree on. Identifying a cause can be as simple as picking one to help or remember a loved one or helping with clean up efforts for your favorite park.
My family was motivated by a surgeon who helped my three children who were born with a rare medical condition called facial paralysis that required facial transplant surgery. He talked to us about a charity he volunteered for called Operation Smile, an international children’s charity dedicated to providing life-changing surgeries to children born with cleft or other facial deformities. They make kids smile. We were sold.
We have become so engaged with Operation Smile that we now think of them as part of our extended family. My children have designed invitations with their own artwork, told their story through interviews and later this year will volunteer on a mission. Every task engages them differently.

Poster 2010 224x300 Kids and philanthropy: giving begins at home
Explaining the how and why of you are getting involved with a particular organization is key. The more I tell them where the money you raise will go to (research, building a house, buying food) or how providing helping hands to an organization helps them (feed people, give them medical aid, provide an operation), the more my children want to help.
Volunteering together as a family bonds us and gives us opportunities to discuss subjects and feelings with children they may not otherwise understand or feel comfortable communicating. In our case, it wasn’t always easy to explain to our children why they were born with physical challenges but when we opened up our lives to others, they not only met incredible people but it gave them a forum to discuss their condition and share their experience. It helps heal us in a way that practical medicine never could.
Last year, when San Francisco parents Audrey & Rip Gerber’s oldest son Robby, 14 (then 13) suggested to his parents that they do a monthly volunteer activity they thought it would be a fleeting idea. After the first shift, Robby and his brother Max, 12, were energized to do more. Now, each month they go to the San Francisco Food Bank and help out together. Robby says, “It makes me feel good helping someone who is not as fortunate as me.”

Robby June SF Rood Bank 224x300 Kids and philanthropy: giving begins at home
Most people who engage in philanthropy say the same thing, by giving to others I get back so much more back than I give. Children respond to volunteering in the same way and it can lead to a lifetime of giving to others. Philanthropy teaches them about service and kindness at an early age and may inform their life choices about careers, friendship and tolerance.
Philanthropy helps children understand the world around them in a unique and vital way. I encourage everyone to take the time and give this gift to your child.

Lisa Lori Headshot 150x150 Kids and philanthropy: giving begins at homeLisa Lori is president of Lisa Lori Communications, a pr firm specializing in non profit and lifestyle marketing. She is the mother of three boys ages 11, 9 and 8. Her philanthropic work includes the recently launched fundraising initiative with Operation Smile called, The Three Little Bears, named after her children.

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