Doing community service with kids is just as much about doing a good deed in the moment as it is about teaching them to be charitable throughout their lives. One service activity that they can't actually participate in as a kid, can still be taught at a young age.
When I was a child, my mother religiously gave blood every 8 weeks. I remember going with her to the blood bank where I'd be fed as many crackers as I wanted and would watch my mom - through the window - give blood. I remember knowing that my mom was giving blood to help those who were injured or sick. I remember feeling proud of her and wanting to do it when I grew old enough.
As a blood-giving parent, I now see things on the other side. I know adults who feel like giving blood is scary, uncomfortable, or too much of a burden. I feel no qualms about giving blood because I was raised around it. I hope that my kids feel the same about giving blood when they grow up as I do now! So, to get started on their lifelong positive attitude toward blood donation, I am teaching them now! Here's how I have done it:
FOR VERY SMALL KIDS: When my kids were too young to be able to sit alone in the blood bank watching me from the other room, I told them about it. I would talk leading up to my appointments what was going to be happening ("A phlebotomist will stick a needle into my arm and blood will come out and fill up a bag"). While at the appointment I'd choose bandage colors I knew they'd like (pink or purple) and be sure to show it off to them when I got home. I'd answer questions they had honestly ("Does it hurt?" "Only a little").
FOR ELEMENTARY AGE KIDS: Now that they're a little bit older, they have actually gone to the appointments with me. We still talk about the reasons we're going, though now they're usually telling me ("You're going to help someone who is sick or injured!") They're always showered with snacks and compliments from the employees at the blood bank. Here's Ruby, fully enjoying herself:
My goal is to normalize donating blood for my kids. I hope that when they weigh at least 110 pounds and are over 16 years of age they never feel like it's too much of a burden to spend 30 minutes to save someone's life!
Need information on giving blood?
- For local Lane County Residents visit: https://lanebloodcenter.org/
- For all others, simply google "donate blood" and the name of your city and I'm sure you'll find your local blood bank!
Do you give blood? Have you talked to your kids about it? What's been your experience?