Children are naturally caring creatures. They have the biggest hearts and tend to always want to help out, whether it be giving mommy a hand with dinner, or helping daddy wash the car, they love to help. If only they could stay that way into those pesky teenage years! Giving children the opportunity to help out allows them to learn and grow as a person, while also offering them a little bit of independence, too. With the Christmas holiday just around the corner, it is the perfect season to introduce our little ones to "giving back," and helping out others who are not mommy and daddy. It can open up a wonderful dialog about the importance of helping others and sharing, plus, it's always a great opportunity for us grown-ups to grow as people, and learn a little along the way, too. While we can't sign up our toddlers to dish at the next soup kitchen just yet, there are a myriad of ways that the kiddos can contribute during this beautiful season of giving!

1. Pick Out A Toy For A Child In Need

Toys For Tots

There are many locations where a Toys for Tots drop-off station is located. Have you and your little one's pick out a toy or two to donate, and tell them that they are a kind of "Santa's Helper." It's a great opportunity to teach them that there are other children out there who are less fortunate, and that giving is one of the greatest gifts of all. They'll enjoy the process of picking out a toy and "helping Santa!" Click here to find your local Toys for Tots drop-off location. Another great option is having your little one help pick out some small toys to fill a shoebox with for Operation Christmas Child.

2. Fill a Grocery Bag

When it comes time for the next grocery trip, have the kids pick out some non-perishable food items, foods that they think other kids like them would like. Fill up a grocery bag with the items they picked out and head over to your local food bank. No child should ever go to bed hungry, but sadly, they do. But with small steps like this one, we can begin in our own community to wipe out hunger. Visit Feeding America's website to locate a food bank in your community!

3. Donate Gently Used Coats and Clothing

It is certainly no secret that kids grow like little weeds, and when it comes to clothing, something you purchased three weeks ago may not fit now. But instead of just throwing the clothes out or packing them away in a musty attic, why not give them back to the community that can use them now? This time of year, coats and warm clothing are especially needed. Plus, sorting through your closets can make a great project for a rainy day, and you can even use your imagination and turn it into a kind of game for you and the little ones! To find a drop-off location in your community, click here to visit One Warm Coat's website.

4. Care Packages

The men and women of the United States military are some of the bravest souls that walk this earth. They put their lives on the line each and every day, sacrificing so much, so that we can live comfortably and happily. They are truly the epitome of what a hero is. For those deployed overseas during the holidays, we can send some holiday cheer their way by putting together a care package. Operation Care Package is a wonderful website dedicated to bringing the holidays to our troops. They even have special coloring pages that the kids can color and send to a solider! Click here for more info and to print coloring pages.

5. Go Caroling!

Bring some holiday cheer to senior citizens! If you are part of a church or school group, why not get everybody together to organize a caroling session at a local nursing home or rehab facility? It would most definitely put a smile on everyone's face! Children radiate happiness, and spread that cheer everywhere they go. Local seniors would love nothing more than to hear your little ones regale them with tales of their school days, Santa visits, and more!