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GRAND Paws: The Gift of Giving Back

Helping Grandchildren Learn the True Meaning of Holiday Giving  |   By Robin Ganzert, PhD


One of the greatest challenges we face when it comes to holiday shopping for the grandkids is: How much is enough? Most children receive enough toys, electronic games, and the obligatory sweaters that they barely appreciate what they get. For those of us who worry that the holidays have become too commercial and too removed from the true spirit in which they were created, it may be time to employ a new strategy — one that brings a little meaning back to what is supposed to be the “season of giving.”

This year, instead of buying that extra toy or electronic device or article of trendy clothing, why not give your grandkids the gift of giving? Teaching a new generation the value of helping others is one of the greatest lessons we can provide. And it’s so simple.

Teach by example. Let your grandkids see your charitable efforts in action. Involve them when you’re volunteering or making contributions. As you fill out your check or online pledge, explain why you chose a particular cause and what the money will do, and make the donation from the whole family.

Start young. Teach kids that it really is better to give than to receive by making charitable giving a part of your family’s holiday tradition.

Align your “gift of giving” with their interests. If your granddaughter (or grandson) loves horses, introduce her to a charity such as Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, which rescues, rehabilitates, and provides homes for Thoroughbreds no longer able to race, by sponsoring a horse in your grandchild’s name. Talk about how she might help in the future.

Make a donation in their names. When presents are being opened, set aside a box containing “something special.” Let your grandchildren know there are others less fortunate who do not have a home, good health, enough food, or the love they need, much less presents. Explain you have made a gift in their name to a charity. Some nonprofits, including American Humane Association, provide downloadable gift cards you can personalize with a message and with your grandchild’s and your names.

Giving grandchildren the gift of giving back enables them to experience a joy like no other—that of helping others. It also brings families closer and makes the holidays brighter. Who could ask for anything more?



Robin Ganzert, PhD, is President of American Humane Association, the country’s first humanitarian organization and the only one dedicated to protecting both children and animals.

Click here to watch the video How to Help Children and Animals” with the American Humane Association.


Christine Crosby

About the author

Christine is the co-founder and editorial director for GRAND Magazine. She is the grandmother of five and great-grandmom (aka Grandmere) to one. She makes her home in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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