Ideas will vary depending on the age of your kids, but even toddlers could start doing some of the basics. Older kids might be very interested, especially if they're aware of panhandlers or homeless people they see sleeping on the streets and want to understand and do something. Often it's the youngest and poorest among us who are the most generous, so let them teach you as you enter this project together.
•Take your kids shopping for the items that go in the homeless [zipper] bags. Let them make some of the choices or pick out varieties (say, what kind of fruit cup or what color socks).
•Solicit help with sorting and bagging the items. It can even be a fun lesson in patterns or counting for young kids. (Ex. Each bag gets two red granola bars and one yellow.) Let older kids arrange some of the unique items in a way that seems logical and pleasing to them.
•Use this whole experience as a springboard to conversations about how some of us have families and homes and some of us don't. You can talk about responsibilities and compassion, and ask (older kids, especially) what they think about the subject (and listen to the answers!). Point out that many homeless people are not the ones we see on the streets, and they include families with young children just like yours. If you just ignore panhandlers, you might inadvertently teach your kids a value of disregarding need, unless you discuss the nuances of the situation, as they are able to understand.
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