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Teaching Kids About Giving Back

This post was sponsored by Johnson & Johnson as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central, and all opinions expressed in my post are my own. I’m so grateful for the chance to partner with a brand and a cause that are doing so much good. 



The nights were always dark and cold and we added layers and layers before loading up in the van. I don’t remember how long we drove for, but once we arrived everything was grey. Their clothes, the sky, and the pavement. Everything except the blue tarps over their cardboard box homes built against park walls.

The lines stretched forever, curving out of sight. We handed each of them rice ball. On other nights there had been fewer and we could spare two a piece, but tonight there was only one for each pair of outstretched hands. They bowed in gratitude, and my dad offered a coat to one, a sweater to another. But they all asked for the socks. And I noticed they didn’t all have shoes.

Some of my most meaningful memories of growing up as an expat in Japan are the chances my parents created for us to serve–in particular, the interfaith group that made and delivered onigiri (rice balls) to Tokyo’s homeless. It was a powerful reminder to be grateful for the things I had and to be aware of those that didn’t (it also taught  me not to give my allowance to homeless men because I watched them go spend my precious yen on beer in the vending machine #heartbrokenfiveyearold).

Lincoln is still very young, so we are working on being kind and gentle, on sharing and giving, and on being aware of those around us. But more kindness is better than less kindness. So, whatever you are doing to celebrate this time of year, find time for a little more kindness. Maybe it’s small gifts and meaningful notes for unsuspecting friends. Maybe it’s time at your local soup kitchen. Or maybe it’s simply holding a door for someone and then dropping a few coins in the red bucket.


One of my favorite ideas is helping your kids pick some of their toys to give away to a child who doesn’t have any and helping them get excited about giving. You could drop them off at a local shelter or participate in a toy drive.

Another super easy way to give back this season is buying a gift from the Gifts for Joy catalog or by sharing a photo through the free Donate a Photo app. For every picture shared, Johnson and Johnson donates $1 to one of its trusted non-profit partners (that you choose!) like Save the Children.

Sharing is easy to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and since they launched Donate a Photo three years ago, over 1.75 million photos have been donated. You can donate one photo a day, every day, and learn more at donateaphoto.com.

With the Gifts of Joy catalog, you can choose to give school supplies to a girl in Africa or help a family in South America with the gift of two goats and a chicken. One of our most memorable Christmases growing up was the one where each of us got a farm animal, gifted for us to a child across the world, and I’m excited for a few years from now when we can do the same thing for Lincoln (and Adelaide – but it’s still a bit hard to think of her doing more than giggling and spitting up).

What ways do you help your kids get involved in giving back or serving this time of year?


Johnson & Johnson has curated a list of trusted causes, and you can donate a photo to one cause, once a day. Each cause will appear in the app until it reaches its goal, or the donation period ends. If the goal isn’t reached, the cause will still get a minimum donation.

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One Comment

  1. I love the idea of giving the kids (and adults) experiences as gifts! Creating special memories is the best kind of gift. We usually do a house decluttering and donations before the holidays to prepare. I’m definitelly using some of your ideas for inspiration. Thanks for sharing!