What my six-year-old is teaching me about giving

One of our greatest hopes as parents is that our three children will be givers. We want our children to really and truly understand that everything we have has been given to us by God and that our role is to be conduits of His blessings to others. Whether we have little or an abundance, the more we open our hands and hearts to others and give generously, the more we’re blessed in return.

We’ve talked about this a lot in our home and have sought to model a giving and serving lifestyle to our children. However, when children are young, it’s hard to know how much is really sinking in. But in the past two months, I discovered maybe they were picking up more than I realized…

We were riding in the van together one day in October and Kathrynne (6) said out-of-the-blue, “Mom, I’d really like to do Operation Christmas Child boxes.”

It was already something I was hoping we could do again this year, so I said, “Sure, honey, we can definitely do that. Did you have anything specific in mind?”

“Well,” she said, “I was thinking I could take my money that I’ve been saving all year to pay for them.”

I sat up in my seat and looked back into her eyes. She was completely serious about this.

And then she said, “I’d like to do 10 boxes. Five for girls and five for boys.”

At this point, my husband and I both had tears in our eyes.

You see, Kathrynne had been saving all year for a large-ticket item. She’d done a lot of chores to earn the money, and, after tithing, we’d let her set aside the rest for this item she’d been wanting to buy.

We knew she almost had enough money to pay for this item and she’d been eagerly talking about buying it and using it. And yet, here she was saying she wanted to use almost all of her hard-earned and carefully-saved money to pay to fill 10 Operation Christmas Child boxes.

Over the course of the next week, she planned out what she wanted to buy, she shopped for the items, and paid for everything with her own money. Then she wrote cards to all of the children, helped pack the boxes, and took them to the drop-off point.

As a parent, I couldn’t have been prouder of my child. And by the smile on her face and the excitement about the whole thing, I knew it was so much more fulfilling to her than buying something for herself ever would have been.

But I was more than just proud. I was deeply touched and challenged to examine my own heart and attitude toward giving. I realized that while I love to give to others, often, I’ll give from my abundance, instead of giving in a way that costs me something near and dear.

Kathrynne didn’t give from her abundance: she gave up buying something she had long waited for and long wanted so she could help children who have little or nothing. It meant she didn’t get to buy something she’d looked forward to owning for months, but she was okay with that, because she knew there were others who needed the money more than she needed a new toy.

Instead of me teaching my daughter about giving, she’s the one teaching me through her example. And I’m left inspired and motivated to give generously–without worrying about what it will mean I have to give up in return.

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Comments

  1. Jenn says

    My mom had an old poem that hung on our wall as a child, Children Learn What they Live. Your lives are blessings to others. Merry Christmas.

  2. Jenny says

    She’s amazing Crystal!

    But I know for sure that it stems from the teaching of her wonderful parents. Way to go Jessie n Crystal! Awesome!!!!!

  3. MrsD05 says

    My 4 year old niece is old enough this year that I thought she would understand the concept of building a box for a little girl her age. I told her about the program and that we would go buy a shoe box (I always get the plastic ones so that they can reuse them) and fill it with useful and fun things for the little girl.

    I explained to her that there are some children whose parents don’t have enough money to buy them a Christmas present because they don’t even have enough money for food. She is very tender hearted so this upset her a little bit and she continued to ask me questions. Does the little girl have a dog? No, she probably doesn’t have a dog because they can’t afford food for a dog. Does the little girl have a bed? No, probably not in the way that you have a nice big bed with warm covers all for yourself. What does the little girl eat? Well, she probably doesn’t eat the same types of food that you eat but it depends on where she lives. Does she go to school? No, not the type of school that you would go to, if she even goes to school at all.

    She sat in the backseat for a few minutes thinking to herself and said “Aunt Jen it doesn’t sound like this little girl has hardly anything.” I said “I know baby but this little girl has God and He is looking out for her because children are so, so special to God and we are going to get her a present.”

    It was at that moment that it really sank in to my niece that what we were doing was going to make a difference in the little girl’s life. She got so excited! We went skipping (literally she loves to skip!) into WalMart and looked and looked and looked for a plastic shoebox. She wanted to make sure that the little girl got a beautiful one so she picked out a pretty light blue box and asked if I thought the little girl would like it.

    We went to the checkout and she proudly handed the shoebox to the cashier along with the money that I had given her to pay for it. When the cashier bagged it up she handed it to my niece along with the change and receipt.

    We then went skipping next door to the Dollar Tree where we poured over the selection of items and put great care into picking things that she thought the little girl would like. She was especially happy to find a pretty purple washcloth that was very soft. We bought some suckers for the little girl and hopped that maybe she would share one with her best friend or a sibling.

    All the time that we were shopping I made comments here and there about why we were doing this and why it is so important to give to others. At the checkout the cashier asked if we would like to donate a toy to operation homefront (for military families with deployed parents) and I asked my niece what she thought.

    She said “Yes, Aunt Jen! It makes God happy when we help other people.” My eyes filled with tears and the cashier smiled. My niece told her what we were doing and as the cashier handed my niece the receipt she whispered good job auntie.

    We went back to her grandparent’s house and carefully arranged all of the items. She drew a picture for the little girl and wrote Merry Christmas God loves you!

    We said a prayer for the little girl, put the label with the barcode on and put a big rubber band around the outside. She took it to church with her the next morning to turn in. My in-laws (her grandparents) said that she marched into church with a huge grin on her face to turn in her box.

    I will never forget that afternoon spent with her.

  4. says

    WOW! Beautiful story…what a wonderful little girl you have! I hope my almost 2 year old turns out to be as good-hearted:)

  5. Alissa DeLucio says

    That gave me chills (good kind of course!). Thank you for sharing. It is nice to see good news compared to those we hear in the news. Shame we can’t get them to share your story around the world… or can we? Hmmmm.

  6. Michelle Haviland says

    And that is the spirit of Christ. Utterly selfless giving.

    God bless you, Kathrynne and to her parents, I can only say – “Yes”.

    Blessings to you, all of you.

    Michelle

  7. Alison says

    Another reader in tears reading this beautiful post. Thanks for sharing. So many lessons to learn from little ones. I also do Operation Christmas Child here in the UK and truly hope that my 19-month-old will one day have a giving spirit like your daughter’s. Blessings to you all xx

  8. Cilicia Phillips says

    Reminds me so much of Luke 21
    1 And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury.2 And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites.3 And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all:4 For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had.

  9. Dianne says

    What a wonderful story!! So proud of your family! I pray we can all give just as your daughter has. God bless you all during this Christmas season and always! Thank you!

  10. Noelle says

    That’s awesome, and it really is what Christmas is supposed to be about! Thank you so much for sharing this with us. I love hearing stories like this. It gives us hope in this sometimes messed up world.