Giving Back on a Budget: An Activity for the Whole Family


A family putting their hands together

The Value of Giving

While I try to teach my kids the value of giving all year round, it is especially important to me to give during the holidays. I feel that sometimes those who go without can feel extra lonely during these times.

My oldest, Jessie, is now 7 years old. I started a tradition with her when she turned 4. Instead of giving our friends in need a dollar or two when we pass them in the streets, I started to make goodie bags of essentials that they may need. We started with about 25 bags and quickly grew over the last few years to around 75. All of our items were purchased at Dollar Tree. 

Ziplock bags filled with toiletries and other necessary items

I taught my children early on that giving–no matter the size or value–is just a small act that we can do for others. I hope they see that something that may seem so small to us can mean so much to someone else.  

A Simple Shopping List

If you feel compelled to give this holiday season, I made a list of items that can be purchased at your local Dollar Tree:

  • Gallon-sized Ziploc bags
  • Toothbrush
  • Mini toothpaste
  • Mini shampoo and conditioner containers 
  • Socks
  • Hair ties
  • Batteries 
  • Mini flashlight
  • Snacks 
  • Brush or comb 
  • Qtips 
  • Band-aids
  • Mini deodorants
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Masks 

A graphic that reads, "In all things, give thanks."

Making the bags is easy and is a good time to teach about why we give. I will say depending on the age of the child, be prepared for the questions that may follow after giving out the goodie bags. I remember the first time we gave out a bag, my daughter asked why we couldn’t just have them stay at our house. Such a complex question, but she somehow made it seem so simple. I emphasized again that while we may not be able to help everyone in big ways, small acts of kindness still go a long way. 

Looking for more ways to give back locally? Read more about our Snack Pack Project–a collaboration with Branches–and check out our updated Local Nonprofits Guide here.

Updated November 2023