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How to Make Giving Back a Family Affair

Give to a worthwhile cause and teach kids an important lesson about community service at the same time.

How to Make Giving Back a Family Affair
Written by Julia Halewicz

Timing is everything when you're trying to teach kids an important life lesson. Ever try to talk to a child about a bad report from their teacher while the TV is on? Parental wisdom can easily get lost in the noise.

So when is the best time to talk to kids about community service? Most of us use the holidays as a springboard for these discussions. The approach is simple: Show the kids how much they have and how lucky they are, and explain that others aren't so fortunate. Depending on the age, parents ask kids to donate a toy for underprivileged kids or even volunteer at a soup kitchen.

But what happens after the holidays have passed, when all the new toys and gadgets get thrown in with the old stuff and the daily routine resumes? Even the most enlightened among us have a hard time remembering our personal good fortune on an average day and kids are no different. The needy certainly don't stop being needy once the holidays have passed.

Why not make now the right time to talk about community service? Just start with a little parental modeling. We've all heard that the  American Red Cross is  low on blood donations thanks to the polar vortex that kept us all indoors earlier this month. January is  National Blood Donor month and making a donation is a small act for an adult and sets a great example for kids.

If mom and dad are giving back to the community by donating blood, the question becomes what can the kids do? Depending on your child's age, get them active in school coat and mitten drives, which are common in many parts of the country this time of year, have them donate their old baby gear to school tag sales or let them help make a pan of baked ziti for pasta night.

Also think beyond school to after school activities, which often require fund-raising. Explain how those initiatives benefit your child's ballet class. Or do something as simple as make a meal for an elderly neighbor and deliver it with your children.

Whatever you choose to do, make it a routine. Like everything else we teach our kids through schedule, consistency is key to success.

This article is part of Mix It Up, an editorial series created in collaboration with AOL's Kitchen Daily and Huffington Post. It is dedicated to making the lives of mothers easier through articles, videos and slideshows focused on simple and creative solutions to everyday challenges. From healthy recipes to exciting ideas for a more balanced lifestyle, this section aims to become a resource for moms everywhere. 

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