Happy Thanksgiving! While many of us Americans will be gathering ’round with family and friends sharing a huge meal and lots of gratitude, we’ll also be planning our bargain shopping strategies for this weekend.
Perhaps while you’re out and about you’ll want to pick up some items to give for a child in need.
The holiday season is a time of giving- EXTREME giving! When I worked at a group home for teenage girls, we were donated so many items right before Christmas that we put some things aside that could be used at a later time for birthday gifts.
Here in Panama City, it’s too late for those in need to sign up for the Salvation Army Angel Tree, but the Bay County Sheriff’s Office is accepting toy donations, as are several other agencies in town. The same is happening in communities around the world.
But what should I donate?
Look, every kid wants the “it” toy of the season, but we all know those “it” toys are expensive and aren’t nearly as cool after Christmas as they were before. If you want to donate items that will truly benefit a child, here are a few suggestions.
Books. Children who are old enough to grasp books can benefit from them, as can older children. Children who are read to regularly develop language skills sooner. And even if a parent doesn’t read to a child, studies have shown that children who make up their own stories about a book’s contents also benefit. Both new and gently used books are a great gift for children of all ages, and they are a gift that keeps on giving.
Dolls of all sizes and skin tones. Children practice nurturing and housekeeping skills they will use as adults through doll play. Kids deserve to have a doll of a skin tone similar to their own. Boys benefit from doll play as much as girls, just stay away from the ones that promote violent behavior as many social services agencies will not accept them. Cuddly soft animals and animal figures are also good choices.
Simple blocks. Children develop a variety of skills through block play. Stacking blocks and knocking them down, building enclosures for animal figures, and roads for car play are just some of the many ways children enjoy blocks. You can’t do those things with connecting blocks.
Connecting blocks, puzzles, and Tinker Toys help children develop their fine motor skills.
Art supplies help children with fine motor skills but also helps them develop their creativity. Forget the coloring books and instead give note pads of plain paper along with crayons, markers, chalk, and paints. Children and teens can use these items to create their own works of art and won’t have their creativity tamped down by being forced to “stay inside the lines.”
Gift cards are always useful and allows a child to make his or her own choices as to what he or she would like to have. For older kids, gift cards for a makeover, mani/pedi or a video game are always a hit.
Money. Your gift of cash allows helpers provide a family with last-minute specialty items that may be needed, like formula and diapers or special foods for kids with allergies.
As I mentioned before, used books in good shape are a great gift choice. A few other gently used items that make good gifts:
- Bicycles and other riding toys
- Electronics such as computers, and tablets (recent models, no Ataris, please)
- Some video games
Used items that aren’t needed are (and yes, I’ve seen stuff like this donated):
- Clothing- with a few exceptions. If your child is a fashionista and has recently bought clothes that they no longer wear, by all means donate. But no kid wants to wear your old mom jeans, so take them to Goodwill.
- Cosmetics or toiletries you used once then decided you didn’t want. Ewwww!!! Just ewwww!
- Toys or items that look obviously used. We’re talking about Christmas here, folks! Santa does not give poor kids the toys the elves didn’t do such a good job on. Have a yard sale and donate the proceeds, or take that stuff to Goodwill.
Seeing a child’s face light up when they get a wanted item or a parent’s face when they realize they can actually provide gifts for their children for Christmas is a wonderful thing. You make that possible. So when you’re shopping for your own kids or grandkids, pick up a few items on this list and drop them off at one of the social services agencies in your area.