by: posted Thursday, August 11, 2011
Category: Education, Everything Else, Green
The back-to-school season is upon us and that means it’s time for parents to start cleaning out closets and making room for this year’s new clothing and supplies. It’s also an opportunity to donate gently used goods to charity. And if you’re the type of parent who likes a good teachable moment, this is a chance to explain to your children where your donations are going and how they help those who are less fortunate.
Teaching kids about philanthropy isn’t easy, especially the young ones. That’s why in the past I’ve recommended selecting charities and activities children can relate to, including giving books to local schools with few resources. Now Goodwill has a tool that can make donating gently used household goods and clothing a bit more tangible for youngsters.
Just in case you’re unfamiliar with Goodwill, it’s a nonprofit that accepts household donations. It then sells the goods and uses the proceeds to provide job training and other career services for those in need. While there is no doubt this is a good cause, trying to explain how cleaning out one’s closets can help someone else may be tough for youngsters to understand. That is, until now.
Enter the Donation Impact Calculator. This is an online tool that asks you to enter an item for donation and it then shows you how many minutes or hours of job training your contribution will provide.
Here are some examples from the calculator:
- A working computer provides 8 hours of training.
- A television provides 48 minutes of training.
- A bike provides 38 minutes of training.
- A chair provides 19 minutes of training.
- A coat provides 17 minutes of training.
- A dress provides 13 minutes of training.
- A pair of jeans provides 11 minutes of training.
- A sweater provides 9 minutes of training.
- A pair of shoes provides 7 minutes of training.
- A video game provides 5 minutes of training.
As you can see, a computer is worth an impressive eight hours of job training. And a bag full of clothing and books could easily add up to another 2 hours or more.
To help your kids see the impact your family is making, let them input the donation list into the calculator and watch the minutes increase. I have to warn you that this tool can be a bit addictive. So don’t be surprised if your son or daughter goes back to his or her closet looking for more items to give away just to watch the job training number grow.
Another fun tool to use with your kids is the Donation Match Game. It teaches youngsters which items can be recycled versus those that can be donated to Goodwill. Children receive a certificate upon finishing the game and can work with their families to find more items around the house to donate to Goodwill.
How do you teach your kids about giving to charity?
Stacey Bradford is the author of The Wall Street Journal Financial Guidebook for New Parents.