What Children Teach Us About Giving


Childhood is usually thought of as a time when you start to learn about your place in the world and how to be a part of it.  Parents and other adults sheppard children from infancy through adolescence and into adulthood.

But not all life lessons need to come from adults.

Recently, six year old Ben delivered a large number of brand new toys and books to the Sunnydale Community Centre to share with children in the community.  The community centre is situated in North Waterloo in a culturally diverse community which is home to many new immigrant families, a large number of children and youth and many living on a limited income.   Many of these families access services, resources and programs through the community centre.

Ben and Matthew exchange birthday gifts

“I have enough and I don’t need anymore.”

You see, for his birthday, Ben chose to ask his family and friends to buy toys for children in the Sunnydale community, rather than for himself.   He chose to give his best to children he’d never met, but for whom he felt care and compassion.  I can also think of other examples where children have generously and joyfully shared of their best with this community.

“…something for the children.”

Last summer, in the midst of an annual community event where children receive backpacks and school supplies from a local church, 6 year old Georgia took me aside.  She unfolded her tiny fingers to reveal a collection of coins she had received for her allowance.  She placed them in my hand and asked me to use them to “buy something for the children”.  As I looked into her eyes, tears filled mine.  She saw a need and, with a full and generous heart, shared as much as she had to give.

Let them eat cake.

I also recall 4 year old Ahmed who showed that, although this community receives a great deal, it also loves to give generously.   One morning, Ahmed and his mother came to our weekly Food Distribution Program.  Cakes, donated by a local bakery, looked delicious.  Ahmed’s large family had received a cake, but he was hoping for a second one.  Later, when an elderly gentleman arrived to pick up food for his family, the man was told that the cakes were gone.  A short time later, additional cakes arrived.  Ahmed jumped from the sideline and was soon off running with a cake.  Assuming Ahmed had taken a second cake for his family, the volunteer prepared to stop him.

However, the volunteer soon saw that Ahmed was not running home; instead, he had taken the cake and run to the elderly gentleman, to give him the cake that he had hoped his family might receive.

If we take the time to notice, children often teach us about giving of our best.  When they see a need, they respond quickly, generously, creatively and joyfully.    Each moment, I give thanks to the children in our midst for lessons well taught.

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