CHUM's Taylor Kaye practices the gift of giving during the holidays, a tradition that brings joy and strength to her family.
For Taylor Kaye, her husband Greg and their three daughters, giving back is a family affair—both during the holidays and year-round.
Take Taylor's and Greg's birthdays, for example. Given that the couple happen to share a birthday on December 18, nobody would blame them if they decided to celebrate by sneaking off for some grown-up time away from their three kids—and their busy holiday schedules.
But that's not how this family rolls. Instead, they host an annual birthday/seasonal bash and ask their friends and relatives to bring non-perishable food donations in lieu of gifts, collecting two or three large boxes of food to donate to a local food bank.
"I want my kids to know that helping others is just part of being human and being a good person," says Taylor, a broadcaster and mother to Jenny, 11; Julia, eight; and Jackie, seven. "It's what my mom taught me and what I want to teach my children."
It's a philosophy Taylor has been modelling ever since Jenny was a baby, volunteering in the community with her first-born in tow. She explains, "Going door-to-door canvassing, working with Diabetes Canada—these are things that have affected our family that we feel we should bring awareness to."
Having grown up with this encouragement, it's no surprise that Jenny was inspired to set up her first charitable initiative at the tender age of four: a lemonade stand to raise funds for a local hospital that helped her after she was injured at the cottage. Every summer since, she and her sisters continue the tradition by operating the stand at the family's cottage a few hours away from their home in Toronto.
The three girls now also run a monthly bake sale at a community recreation centre (helped by dad, Greg, who loves to bake), raising money for various causes locally and globally. And when the holidays come, Jenny, Julia and Jackie are only too eager to join their parents in some special charitable traditions, including that joint birthday shindig turned food drive.
This year, Taylor is looking for even more ways her family can integrate a spirit of giving into their holiday traditions, including introducing them to the idea of socially conscious gifts, such as giving a goat to a family overseas.
For Taylor, simplicity is key in inspiring her daughters to give back, both during the holidays and year-round. Her advice? Choose fun activities that your children enjoy—whether it's a lemonade stand, baking or doing crafts—and make it part of your family's regular schedule.
"Maybe one Saturday, instead of playing basketball, schedule your kids to do a bake sale with their basketball team to raise money for a cause," she says, adding that giving back as a family has definitely brought them closer together. "I'm really proud of what our family's doing," she says. "To me, it doesn't matter how much they raise, it's that they're spending the time doing it."
Taylor's tips for giving back as a family this holiday season:
1. Use the holidays as a charitable opportunity.
The holidays are a great time to get your feet wet and start a new initiative volunteering. Instead of hostess gifts, ask your guests to donate a toy to a charity, give a gift to a women's shelter or check out the ME to WE Holiday Gift Guide. For teacher gifts, you could donate in their name and purchase a small gift to attach your donation card to.
2. Introduce your kids to the gift of giving time.
It doesn't have to be big. Have them volunteer to sing at a senior centre or host a food drive at their school or in their class. My eldest volunteers, runs bake sales, dog walks and gives part or all of her money to the charities she chooses. The younger Kayes are starting to help out by donating gifts, and this year, they will be helping at the community bake sale. When they collect their funds, visually show them where the funds are going using pictures online—show them what their money and hard volunteering work will do to help others.
3. Create new traditions… with good intention.
One way families can create new traditions is to sit down and have a family meeting. Have each family member pick something new they want to do this year. We usually write all of our activities on a Popsicle stick and put them in a jar. Usually, myself or one of the kids pick one stick, and we donate to that charity. We do the same for family activities, like going for a walk, visiting an older neighbour or cleaning leaves or snow for a couple of older neighbours on the street.
4. Help your kids learn by example.
When my youngest was one-month-old, I went canvassing door-to-door for the Heart and Stroke Foundation. Now, at 11, she walks with me and canvasses for different organizations. Start small (you don't want to get overwhelmed, and you don't want your children to miss the point on why you're volunteering) and grow that idea even bigger. Sit them down through the process, see how they are feeling and get them involved as much as you can.
5. Turn holiday giving and traditions into charitable action that last the year.
Start making your own family traditions for the next generation. On January 1, 2019, write down 52 things to do to give back in a year. Put them in a jar, and each week pick one out. Whatever you do, make sure you enjoy it and the kids enjoy it. You'll be surprised with what your kids come up with, and you may say to yourself, "Why didn't I think of that?"
For more ideas on how to give back, check out WE Stories.