Last year we decided to start giving our daughter an allowance for doing a certain amount of chores. It also came with the understanding that part of her allowance had to go to charity. Not really understanding what charity is we picked 2 charities and said she could either 'help the animals that have no home' or 'give gifts to kids that don't get presents for Christmas'. She picked 'help the animals' and this has been the phrase we've used ever since we started this.
When my son turned 3 we started the same process of chores and an allowance and when given the option who to help he said the wanted to 'help the animals'. Both kids have been saving for quite some time so today I took them down to the Edmonton Humane Society so they could deliver their donations and take a tour of the facility. Since they've become a little older I explained that their money would go towards feeding and caring for these animals until a family would give them a new home. They seemed to understand that a bit better than just 'help the animals'.
When we got there I was saddened to see that the main facility was closed until 2pm (we were there just after noon). I was especially sad as I had called in to ask someone about coming down and was told to just come down anytime. So we trucked inside to the only section that was open and I just asked if the kids could leave their money, figuring we would need to make another trip some other day to actually visit the animals. When I explained the kids wanted to leave part of their allowance money I was so pleasantly surprised that the receptionist said that someone was coming down to meet the kids. Not only did Marissa come to meet the kids but she took them on a tour, counted out their money ($36.90) and gave them each a little package of colouring books, toys, treats, etc. The kids were estatic when she toured us around and took the kids in to pet the cats.
The staff at the facility were so kind and enthusiastic about a 3yr old and 4 yr old giving up $36.90 from their allowances to help the animals. I could see the kids were a little shy about the acknowledgements but were very pleased that people cared about what they did. I have to say the staff were also so nice to me, as the parent, for helping to get them involved in it. They asked why I started it with them and I said that they are very blessed children; they are relatively healthy, they're loved, and have a home over their heads so it was important to me to help them learn that there are others (people, animals, the environment) that need their help. They said that they have definetly noticed that the earlier you get kids interested in this kind of stuff that it follows them for life. That just warmed my heart to know that for all my faults, I am doing at least 1 thing right!