That well-known expression, “charity begins at home” means that a person should care for the needs of their own family and friends before helping others. But while I was growing up, I thought it meant the lessons around being charitable were always taught by one’s parents.
Certainly, it was the case in our house, where being kind was equally important to being hardworking or successful. As a child, I remember my teacher mom constantly doing things for others during what little free time she had. In addition to volunteering to lead after-school activities for her students, she’d stay up late at night to knit hundreds of finger puppets and bake mouth-watering desserts for every school event we’d sign her up for. Despite his busy banking career, my dad still found time to organize walkathons through the United Way of Halton and Hamilton. By the time I was in my early teens, it became second nature to volunteer at the animal shelter and community pool. My brother one-upped every kid I knew: he saved his money to sponsor a child in Central America.
As the mother of Millie and Ellie, I’m trying to normalize giving by setting examples through our day-to-day activities. Whether it’s putting our spare change in the canine-shaped Guide Dog banks; taking part in Lemonade Standamonium; or something as simple as passing our outgrown clothes to younger friends, we are finding ways to make sharing automatic and fun.
Many families we know are doing the same. Themed Giving Back, this issue of Parenting Times aims to celebrate people and organizations who are sharing the best of themselves and to inspire those who aspire to make a difference in the lives of the less fortunate. Janhabi Nandy authors our main feature on locals who are helping the Ukrainian relief effort through auctions, garage sales and concerts. She also spoke with Ottawa mom of two Ashlee Mulligan, whose family is preparing to host a family she connected with via the Internet. Sheryl Bennett-Wilson writes about three local organizations: Andrew Fleck Children’s Services, Bruyère and Compassionate Ottawa, which support people in three different stages of life and Mike Carroccetto gives us the lowdown on Volunteer Ottawa, which connects people with their perfect charitable giving opportunities.
Our columnists have also given us their take on our theme. Kita Szpak describes it as riding a bike and Chris Hunt and Jon Willing tell us how they taught their kids to practice an attitude of gratitude and how to share.
These pages offer only a sampling of the ways people around us are making life better for us all, and the possibilities are endless. Let’s see what else we can do.