Unless someone likes you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it’s not. – Dr. Seuss

That’s right you. The big you. The little you. And the yous in between (yes I saids yous.) We are a few days from Thanksgiving, our schedules are busy, and now they are about to go turbo. But, in the midsts of it all, remember the reason why it is fun to gather around and celebrate- family (the fussy ones too), friends, children, and our four legged creatures too (I’ve found the little Seuss in me!). We work, bake, buy, stuff, and wrap, all in effort to show how much we love. In return we get the one thing that stays in our heart and compels us to do it again every year- sweet, crazy, funny family memories.

And while you as an adult can appreciate all the action, how can you translate the commotion to your kids? They may not connect all you do for them with the kind act of giving.

Dr. Richard Weissbord, a Harvard psychologist with the graduate school of education, who runs the Making Caring Common Project, says children learn altruistic behavior by watching the ones they love the most- their parent. Teaching children to empathize through active example will make them happier and more successful.

Where to begin? Expand their circle of concern by creating opportunities to share with children they don’t know. Infants, toddlers, teens, and young adults who may not be able to enjoy the every day things, like gathering around with family or going outside to blow bubbles and let them see how much even a pack of play dough can bring great joy.

How do I do that? No worries. Thankfully, there is that word again, we live in a city with amazing hospitals that need help and have created special lists for the children that must spend a part of their childhood there.

Here is the opportunity. Print out one of these handy lists and match it to the age of your own child. Allow your child to buy something on the list they love, put a bow on it (they can’t be wrapped), and deliver it to the hospital. The hospital will collect these tiny but powerful gifts for families who will get to ‘shop’ for their kids and provide a little bit of normalcy in an otherwise unseusslike environment.

Strapped for cash and time. Empty out your pockets, crack open the piggybanks, get the stash of allowance and make it really meaningful. This is part of the lesson in giving- giving when we think we can’t. All of the lists include items under $5. There is even an opportunity to recycle special gifts like X-boxes and X-box controllers. Hook up with a friend and create a giving party and carpool to the hospital.

Making memories through giving will teach our children a lesson in kindness that will help make them loving, giving, and caring people in the long run which makes everything better for everyone and that’s something to be thankful for.

Here are a few local opportunities to give this holiday season

University of Maryland Medical Center: Children’s Hospital
Unstuffed stockings and stocking stuffers are needed to help parents create individualized stocking.

Johns Hopkins Children’s Hospital Children’s Center
Donations of age specific wish list items are needed for the hospitals Snowflake station where parents and caregivers get to “shop” for inpatients.

Mt. Washington Children’s Hospital
Gamers donate here. Wii and X-box games are needed.