My crazy little boys turned 5 this past December…one day before Hanukkah started and 14 days before Christmas. To say December was an insane month of presents and celebrations would be an understatement. Logan took to greeting people at the door by asking them what they had brought for him. As a mom, I began to get nervous about their expectations of material things during the holiday season.
Both boys have always understood that we do a lot for “their hospital” (John’s Hopkins All Children’s Hospital), but I didn’t think they were old enough to really understand why. Given that they never want for many things, I don’t know that they see a real value in what we also give to the hospital. This is why I couldn’t have picked a better time to get a special box in the mail from the PJ Library (www.pjlibrary.org).
PJ Library sends free, award-winning books that celebrate Jewish values and culture to families with children 6 months through 8 years old. We signed up last Hanukkah, and I have loved the fun books we receive that highlight our culture. This year, in addition to their books, each boy received a Tzedakah box. Tzedakah is the Hebrew work for acts we call “charity” in English – giving aid, assistance and money to the poor and needy or to other worthy causes. The boxes are basically a little coin bank – a place to keep money until it is donated.
Starting in January, I plan to place the Tzedakah boxes right next to each of their piggy banks. Every Friday before Sabbath, they will each receive a few coins (I’m still working on how to determine how much money they should get each week). I will then explain to them the difference between placing the coins in their bank vs. the Tzedakah box so they have a tangible understanding of giving to others. I’m hoping they begin to value money, and also consider what it means to give it to others. Hopefully, as they grow older, they will be able to even identify causes that are important to them to donate to on their own!