(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – The holidays are a time for giving back, but making a donation of time, items or money doesn’t just benefit those in need, it can also help children develop connections with their community, boost their self-esteem and instill a sense of empathy.
“It’s something that parents and caregivers can begin very early on in life by talking to kids about gift giving and labeling the feelings that go along with that. How does it make them feel to receive a gift and what would it be like to be able to give a gift to someone else,” said Tammi Young-Saleme, PhD, pediatric psychologist and director of the psychosocial program for hematology, oncology and bone marrow transplant at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. “It’s also important to allow kids to be part of the decision for where and how to focus their generosity and to find the right connection for kids based on their age and interests.”
Younger kids respond well to tangible gifts, such as making a card for a patient in the hospital or donating canned goods to a food bank. For older children, help them find a cause they feel passionate about so they feel connected to the impact their gift is making.
Young-Saleme has experienced the generosity of many pediatric patients at Nationwide Children’s Hospital who find meaning in their own experience by giving back. She recently accepted a donation on behalf of Nationwide Children’s from 14-year-old Jocelyn Green, a leukemia patient who donated her wish from Make-A-Wish to connect other patients with entertainment technology while they’re in the hospital.
“When those kids go to the hospital, they probably felt the same as me. They didn’t want to be there and they know it will be super boring and painful, both physically and emotionally,” Green said. “So I’m really glad they get to have a little something to enjoy.”
Nationwide Children’s Hospital is giving families who would like to donate this holiday season the opportunity to literally brighten the days of children in the hospital with “Light Up The Lawn, Light Up A Life.” An extensive butterfly-themed light display outside of the hospital will illuminate with each donation of $10 or more made through nationwidechildrens.org/give through the end of the year.