Kids with character: Generosity

Generosity boosts happiness, has a ripple effect, and can be taught. See how this family’s $100 giving challenge resulted in something extraordinary.

Want more inspiration? Watch the other videos in our Kids with character series to see the power of honesty, grit, and gratitude in action. Then, check out our full collection of helpful parenting information about building character.

Video transcript

“For Christmas 2011, my parents had given me $100 and they told me to use it to make a difference in someone’s life.

My husband and I gave both our kids, my son and my daughter both received $100 each in cash. We told them to use all of it or some of it to make somebody’s life different. It came with just one condition that they could not put the money into a charity box. They had to think through and make the most out of it.

I knew right away that I wanted to donate this money to Smile Train to help a child get cleft lip surgery. One surgery costs $250 and I only had $100. So I had to find a way to come up with the rest of the money. We were learning about recycling and ways of helping the environment. I learned how in California you can make money by redeeming recyclables. So I came home. I talked to my mom about it and she really liked the idea. She said we could start saving the recyclables we have at home. We can ask friends and family. It took me about two months to raise the hundred and fifty dollars I needed to add to the hundred. After I made that first donation, I felt really happy and I just decided that feeling made me not want to stop there and keep doing it. And it took off from there.

So recycling for smiles started when I was 11 and as of today we have raised over 75 thousand dollars by redeeming over 70 thousand pounds of recyclables.

There is something else that we do as a family. We have the habit of asking, tell us something good you have done that day. It could be saying something nice to a person who was not feeling well or opening the door. You know little, little things. So that’s something we share every time we share a meal as well. They don’t need to be born generous. They can learn how to be generous by looking and watching others. They have also noticed how happy they feel by giving, you know, by making someone’s life different.

I think generosity is a form of gratitude. It is a way of showing that you’re thankful for what you have in life and that you want to maybe help people who may not, who don’t have as much as you.

It really makes a difference in our lives as well as a family because we are happy.

I think what parents can do to encourage their kids to do good things and help others is just to set a good example yourself for them. Educate them about there are people in this world who are in need and also maybe showing them that really in life there’s a lot to be thankful for. So a way of expressing that gratitude is maybe to help people in need who may not have as much as you. “

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