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We start out so well, don’t we? What parent hasn’t enjoyed the loving generosity of a baby sharing a drool-soaked treat? Yet, as we grow, we seem to have a tendency to forget the joy that we get from sharing. Babies inevitably hit the “mine” stage—grabbing toys from other toddlers and demanding that mom and dad do everything for them. After a rough day of “he took my toy” or “she’s touching me!” it can feel like they only think about themselves. But then there are glimpses of hope. They have moments of mutual kindness. And then there are those positive stories of older kids doing amazing things to change their community or world around them. 

How do we direct the conversation from selfishness to altruism in just a few short years of parenting?   

One solution revolves around refocusing birthday celebrations. Naturally, you would think this is the time to be selfish; it’s their day! They typically receive praise, gifts and a party. And as parents it’s a natural time to spoil them.  

So how do you spoil them without… spoiling… them? 

Their birthday is the perfect time to tame some of the focus off the self and opening their eyes to the power of generosity and compassion.  In the fall of 2017, I created a way for kids to use their birthday to give back to their local community: Wish & Give (wishandgive.ca). By organizing your party with Wish & Give, your guests can contribute to a charity or non-profit of your choosing—something your child cares about—and participate in a group gift for your child. It’s a great opportunity to eliminate the deluge of “stuff” and turn the focus on giving back. You and your child can choose a charity together by searching by postal code directly on the site to find the cause you’re passionate about. It’s a great way to learn about the amazing grass roots organizations right in your backyard.  

Experience joy seeing your child give back. 

The joy you’ll experience from seeing your kids share their birthday with a cause they care about is amazing! When hurricanes were destroying community after community, my son chose to give back to a charity focusing on hurricane relief: he was only 5 turning 6! Can you tell how proud I am? Another little girl turning 8 used Wish & Give to support Ovarian Cancer Canada because her Grandma is going through cancer treatments. Amazing! 

Kids really can give back and create a better world around them! 

It’s amazing to see what kids can do in their own way. I’m confident that by creating opportunities for kids to exercise their generosity muscles, we are on the road to raising a generation of caring, thoughtful young leaders for the future. I call it growing givers. 

Julie LeJeune

Julie LeJeune

Julie created Wish & Give, after working and volunteering in the non-profit sector for nearly 20 years. She wanted to find a way to solve two problems: small, charities not getting enough funding and people feeling they don’t have time to give back. The website allows people to use the events they’re already planning to give back to their favourite, grassroots organization. It’s a win-win!

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