10 things to do that don’t have to cost a dime
1. Food
Charitable organizations across the state say they are in desperate need of pantry items. This is a great way for children to give of their time without having to dip into their allowance fund or raid their own pantry. Families can pull a wagon around the neighborhood and ask for donations, or set up a box in a busy part of the subdivision and make a large, bold sign requesting food for the poor. Let your children take the boxed and canned goods to the local food pantry.

2. Coats
Even on sale, a warm coat can cost a pretty penny, and most family members have at least one coat they no longer wear. Go through your closets and give away those jackets that haven’t been outside in years. Someone will put it to great use. If you aren’t sure of the best place to take donated coats, call your local church or Catholic Charities office.

3. Toys
Children love their toys, even the ones they don’t play with anymore. Tell your children how special that toy will be to some little girl or boy who has nothing, and let them pick out a gently used toy to give away. Take them to a children’s hospital or center for abused children and let your son or daughter make the donation.

4. Sidewalk sale
Use your time and talents to raise money for one of the many organizations in need. Talk about the various charities with your family and let them choose which group they want to help. Then they can set up a table and sell baked goods, or handmade items such as jewelry. Make a sign to let people know which charity you are helping.

5. Letters
So many people need letters of support and encouragement. Even the youngest children can color pictures to brighten the day of senior citizens, soldiers or people in the hospital. Older children can write letters, poems or create drawings. Send notes to prisoners reminding them of Christ’s love and that they aren’t forgotten. Remember not to include any personal infor ma tion in your letters.

6. Time
Visit a senior citizens’s home and read to the residents, or take a sweet treat to share and just listen to them talk. Families can also join together and sing carols at a retirement village.

7. Talent
Hold a craft-making party with your children and their friends and let them make rosaries for the American soldiers serving in foreign countries. Visit for a free kit. Pray the rosary together.

8. Treasure
Talk to your children about the many people who are homeless and in need and encourage them to help like Jesus did. Let them go through their belongings and pick out stuffed animals, games, books or blankets and take them to a homeless shelter.   

9. Baby items
Charities are always grateful for baby clothes, diapers, formula, bottles, and everything else babies and new mothers need. Children can do chores around the house or help out a neighbor to earn money to buy these items. Go to a consignment shop and let your children pick out some of the clothes and other necessities, and take it to your local Catholic Charities office.

10. Pet lovers
Animal shelters need food, bowls, leashes and lots of old towels. Families who have lost a pet recently can donate everything they have, even heartworm or flea medication. Shelter workers say that if the shelter cannot use it, they will pass the items along to families who are struggling.

See also Teach your children the gift of giving and Give Locally.