One of the best parts about this time of year is that people spread a little more kindness than usual. They give a little more generously. And we are in love with a new site that helps parents and their kids do just that: Daymaker. (Hat tip to Cool Mom Picks for putting it on our radar.)
Here’s the 30,000-foot view. Daymaker partners with local, high-impact non-profit organizations to create descriptions of every child they serve. Those child profiles include wish lists of items, everything ranging from clothes to toys to books. You can log on, view profiles of children, and decide which wish list items your family wants to fulfill.
My husband and I decided this was a good use of some of our budgeted holiday giving, so I logged onto the site and set exactly one filter: geography. I wanted my kids to only see profiles of other children who live near us in Los Angeles. Then I called my 7- and 9-year-olds over to my laptop, explained Daymaker’s purpose, gave them a budget of $50, and asked them to find the child they’d like to help.
They took this very seriously. My kids spent a long time sifting through eight pages of profiles, and discussed the kids quietly and respectfully as they read. After much back and forth, they called me back over to the computer to show me the profile they’d picked: that of a ten-month-old boy in foster care. His wish list included two toys my own children had had when they were babies, plus new shoes.
Then, kind of out of nowhere, my son gave an impassioned argument about why we should fulfill the little boy’s entire wish list rather than buying only some of the items, even though it would cost $94 (he’d done the math himself, literally on the back of an envelope). The argument cultimated with him offering to fund the overage by either (i) giving up one of his own holiday gifts, or (ii) contributing money from the coffee mug in which he stashes all his cash from birthdays and allowance.
I could not have been more proud, both because of his generosity, and because of his reasoned, multi-part argument. (He’s the child of two lawyers, is what I’m saying.)
After listening to her older brother’s speech, my daughter also offered to help pay for the wish list. She ran to her room, then ran back and handed me two balled-up $10 bills.
A week later, they are both still talking about the child they picked, wondering if he will like the toys, hoping the shoes are the right size.
My kids’ experience with Daymaker had an unexpected side benefit: it dialed down some of their usual holiday greediness. Like a lot of parents, I worry that my own kids are too spoiled, or even entitled. We have closets overflowing with toys, dressers stuffed with clean clothes…if you have small children you probably know exactly what I’m talking about. Spending time reading profiles of kids with real, profound needs meant my kids suddenly viewed their own Christmas lists a bit differently. They are both still hoping Santa brings them fun stuff on Christmas morning, of course, but the tone of our conversations about the holidays has shifted. I’m so grateful for that shift.
Daymaker also made me realize I’d sort of screwed up as a parent. I have never meaningfully involved the kids in our family’s charitable giving before, and that was a mistake. They are old enough to understand the concept of giving back, and old enough to have an opinion about where we put our money (even if my husband and I ultimately make most of the decisions).
Bottom line: if you can afford to give back this holiday season, there are many great options for doing so (we have more suggestions here). And Daymaker is one of the best. If you use it, we’d love to hear how it goes for you! Shoot us an email or tell us in the comments.