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An all too frequent complaint I hear from parents and one I am guilty of as well is the fact that our kids have too many toys.  They take over the home, create battles at cleanup time, and are quickly neglected for the bigger and better.  To say it drives me nuts is an understatement.  My children are blessed with a big extended family who love to give to my children, so Christmas and birthdays are big events with lots of presents.

My oldest daughter, Madison, has a January birthday, and by the time her birthday comes around not only doesn’t she need anything but there isn’t a place to put anything.  Last year, my husband and I sat Madison down and discussed using her birthday party with her friends as a chance to give back to our community instead of asking her friends for presents. Madison was a bit hesitant, but when we offered her some charity choices, she immediately became excited about helping out the animals at our local Humane Society.

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It is now a birthday tradition for the second year in a row.  Instead of a pile of presents at her party, she has a pile of cat and dog food along with other items listed on our Humane Society’s wish list like bleach and old towels.  After her party, we head over to drop off the gifts.  Once there, the volunteers thank Madison profusely and allow her into the free roam cat room.  Madison loves cats and plays in there with them for quite some time.  The volunteer explains how Madison and her friends have made a difference in these animals’ lives.  Then we try to leave without a pet or two which is always very difficult.  I’ve still got my mind set on Little Fry, a sweet older cat.  (We have an aging dog that would not be appreciative of a new addition at this time.  She’s still mad we had kids.)

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While there, we discovered that the Humane Society is a great place for kids to volunteer.  There are things even a five year old can help out with as long as they have a parent with them.  It’s great for older kids too who need community service for school or scouts, or for kids that just love animals and want to help out.  We plan on taking Madison once a month to help take care of the cats, to feed them and spend time with them.  I know she will love it, and my hope is that she learns at a young age that helping others less fortunate is not only the right thing to do, but that it feels really good too.  Take a trip down to your local Humane Society and see what a difference your child can make and what a difference it could make to your child.

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