Monday, October 31, 2005

Helping Your Baby Build Community

Good humanitarian values are something that everyone should learn at an early age. It is your job as parents to make sure your children see the value in being a good member of their communities. You can start when your child is a baby to help make sure that your little one understands the importance of good community work.

When you vote or otherwise participate in politics, make it a point to take your baby. Although your baby is too young to understand voting, you are starting a trend in letting him or her know that you participate in voting for your elected officials.

You also should engage in charity work and take your baby along. If you volunteer for a group that delivers meals to elderly people or you donate monthly to a food pantry, even if the donation is small, your baby will see that giving to others is important. As your baby gets older, you can have him or her help you pick out items to give.

You also should consider allowing him or her to donate change to causes. Babies can appreciate the bell ringing outside stores during the holiday season. Give your little one a bit of change to toss in. The cost is minimal to you, but you are teaching him or her valuable lessons. Some malls also have wishing wells where pennies tossed in help a local charity. These kinds of events are fun and helpful, making them the perfect opportunity to share a message with your baby about helping.

There are places where taking baby can be a delight to the people you are visiting. For example, people in nursing homes or assisted living communities may not be able to see their own grandchildren anymore but will enjoy the sight of your little one playing. Taking your baby along gives all of you a sense of fulfillment.

When you take your child to parades for holidays, he or she will enjoy the sights, even when still a baby. You should explain what is going on. Just make comments and help your baby to have fun. As he or she gets older, the explanations can get more in-depth, and you will be able to teach valuable lessons through these community-wide events.

If you are reading this article and thinking, "I don't do any of those things," then you should. There is no better time than right now to get involved. Don't wait until your child is older because other activities will start to take up your time. Start small with some of the suggestions here. Begin to purchase $5 a month worth of food to donate to a food pantry or school supplies for the Boys and Girls Club. Volunteer to sit with someone at a nursing home for one hour a week. Once you start to help out, you will begin to see other opportunities to help out. Make it a point to get your whole family involved, and you will feel better about your place in your community.

By Julia Mercer

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