Teaching Children Generosity

When we started homeschooling many years ago, I was given Wednesdays to teach them whatever I wanted. So we do art together, practice piano, and walk through a survey of the bible. And then head to the food pantry. Because – like art, music and theology – generosity has to be taught.

stacks of canned food

When my oldest was six, she practiced reading on Wednesday afternoons by sounding out words like “green beans” and “cream corn”. Then she handed the cans to her little brother, who then sorted chucked them into their appropriate boxes – this weekly workout may partially be credited for his incredible quarterbacking skills today.

The food pantry has grown – because, unfortunately, the need in our half-rural community has too. And so have my kids. Now thirteen, eleven and nine, they still spend an hour or so every Wednesday afternoon at the pantry with me.

children serving community food pantry

Food delivered from Second Harvest is dropped off before we arrive. We unwrap it, mark through the barcodes with our Sharpies, write the expiration date on the tops of cans, and then stock the food away in the cabinets. When we’re done we break down any empty boxes and haul them off to the recycling center down the road.

boy stocking shelves with canned food

With the downturn in the economy a few years ago and the mothballing of half the local factory, our food pantry has seen an uptick in the number of clients it serves. So we contribute what we can: three kids with minutes, muscles and markers to spare.

And what they receive in turn is time with dad, perspective, gratitude, significance, work experience, and hours of practice at generosity.

Finding a food pantry in your area is easy. Visit foodpantries.org to find listings by state.

What other ways have you taught your children generosity?