As a family we try to do charity work as often as we can, however during Ramadan we choose one extra-special project to be involved in.
I always look out for events were the children especially can be involved, because as we’ve often heard ‘Charity begins at home’ or in this particular case, the implementation of which begins at home. The concept of raising children who are both charitable and also attune to the needs of the less fortunate has always been one of my parenting focal points.
And whilst we try to do this throughout the year, however, Ramadan is an honorable and blessed month, and the rewards for generosity are multiplied in it. The Prophet (saws) said,
“The best charity is that given in Ramadhan.” [At-Tirmithi].
This year, we heard about the Ramadan shoebox project which was being organised by the Purposeful Giving charity group.
This idea is based on the more common Santa shoebox project. This entails collecting basic necessities as well as a few luxury items. These are then packed into shoeboxes which are decorated, and individually labeled and then handed to underprivileged children so they too have something festive to celebrate with.
I’ve participated in this at work previously, and so was very excited to hear that a muslim organisation was doing a similar concept for Ramadan.
For each box that was pledged, you were given the name, age and gender of the child. We then had to buy a special gift for that child. My children took great pride in picking items that they were sure would be enjoyed. We first decorated the boxes, and the kids enjoyed this tremendously. They took special care trying to make the boxes as colourful and cheerful as they could, using wrapping paper, stickers, glitter, ribbons and other embellishments. The children then packed the gifts into the box, and it was sealed. The boxes were then labelled with the pre-printed name stickers, and will be delivered to the children before Eid, so that they too will have something special to celebrate the day with.
The boxes include toiletries such as soap, vaseline, toothbrush, toothpaste, body lotion, and a wash cloth. There was also school stationery, crayons, a colouring in book, colour pencils and felt-tips pens. Also a few yummies, sweets, chocolates and lollipops. With us currently experiencing a severe cold front, the inclusion of beanies and a pair of socks were a truly inspired idea. All of these items were generously sponsored by members of the community through the Purposeful Giving group.
It made a huge difference to the children to be able to take part in such an initiative. They realised that the things they take so for granted, socks, a packet of sweets, a toothbrush(!) are in fact items that so many people in this world go without. It created a new awareness and new appreciation.
All kids are born with an innate sense of charity and compassion. Sure, it’s easy to lose sight of that fact as we listen to our little ones clamor for the hottest toys, tastiest treats, and trendiest clothes…but if we watch closely, we will see our child share a toy, give a sibling a sweet, watch them console a friend who’s been bullied, rush to the aid of a cousin who’s fallen down. The ability to feel compassion for others is a mercy and a blessing! It is our duty and responsibility as parents to provide avenues to allow this beautiful instinct to thrive and grow even stronger. Although some parents may worry about exposing young children to painful experiences that might haunt them later, in most instances the joy inherent in giving far outweighs any sadness they may encounter. Being charitable and providing for the needy is a major aspect of Islam and characteristic of the Muslim. Charity is one of the major foundations of Islam. If it is weak, then the foundation of the faith and the Muslim community is weak. This will eventually come to touch each of our lives, one way or another.
Purposeful Giving have projects that run throughout the year. These include feeding projects, grocery hampers, winter warmer projects as well as organising outings for less fortunate children. More info about the group can be found on their Facebook page here.
The Prophet said:
“When a person dies, his works end, except for three: ongoing charity, knowledge that is benefited from, and a righteous child who prays for him.” (Muslim, Al-Tirmidhi, others)
When we involve our families and children in charitable works, we are guaranteeing for ourselves two sources of goodness that will still bring us benefit long after our demise.
Charity serves as a way to bring justice, balance and kindness to every society and community. Helping kids share their good fortune with others may be the most important lesson of all, because when you help a child help others, you are helping to create a better world! May Allah accept it from us. Ameen