ROBINSON, Ill. (WTHI) - This time of year, it can be easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. But as adults, how do we teach our children to be grateful and giving?
Experts say fundraising and volunteering help children understand empathy and become more successful adults.
Students and Lincoln Grade School in Robinson, Illinois are learning how it feels to give. Teachers say it's due to the culture they've created.
The school librarian, Holly Gallagher, is collecting donations to help a school in Texas rebuild their book collection after Hurricane Harvey. Mauriceville Middle School was hit hard with flooding and the library books were ruined.
Gallagher is selling ticket for a dollar. At the end of the week she will draw a winning ticket and that student will get a signed copy of a "Captain Underpants" book.
Gallagher says she has discussed to situation in Texas with students and they have a great capacity for compassion.
"We've had some kids that are really sad about it and thinking about it and other kids who have really decided to back this and some kids who've donated money and aren't even interested in the book, they just donated money because they felt it was the right thing to do."
Kinley Bradbury is a 5th grader and everyone should remember the people in need.
"A few weeks after the storm the radio stopped broadcasting that stuff and the news doesn't do that as much anymore and people just start to forget about it but they're still in need of the money and the books and the stuff so they can continue on their lives."
Research shows community service efforts like this help children develop empathy for others and is linked to several positive trends like better grades and planning for college.
According to the Indiana Youth Institute, volunteerism lowers the risk of suicide, drug use and pregnancy.
In 2016, 43.2% of Hoosier kids volunteered and 44.10% of children in Illinois volunteered, according to the National Survey of Children's Health. Teen volunteerism is up nationwide with more than a thrid of high school seniors giving their time once a month.
3rd grader Zachary Chamblin says he cares about other kids like him.
"I show by donating and just donating my toys and I show by donating money."
Annie List is a 5th grader and says she and her family try to help others during the holiday season.
“We’re very fortunate for how much we have and some people don’t have as much stuff so if we donate some toys for Christmas, our family’s not really going to get as much stuff but we’re going to give some stuff to other people who need it more.”
List, Chamblin and Bradbury tell News 10 they have worked on their own projects to help others.
Bradbury says, “We did pajamas for pets. It was one dollar to get a ticket to wear your pajamas to school. I think we raised $320.65 for the humane society.”
List says she worked on a lemonade stand to raise money, too and her the ideas to give can come from anywhere.
"I don't know, sometimes I look on the internet and sometimes it's just in my brain that I want to do something like that."
Chamblin says he has raised money to help provide lunches to kids over the weekends and it makes him happy to help.
"It's just great to give and it makes you feel so good."
Gallagher says, “This is an example of what’s really going right in schools and we are working hard to build caring, empathetic students and I think we’re doing a good job.”
The library donation continues through the week and more fundraising efforts for other causes are already being discussed.
To encourage your kids to give, experts suggest talking with them about the needs in your community and allowing then to take ownership over projects.
It's an idea Bradbury says makes sense.
“Well there are a lot of fundraisers out there so be sure to pick something that you really do care about, not like what your friend cares about or your sister. Pick what you care about and try to give back as much as you can because there are people out there that really need it.”
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