There are times when a child is personally affected by an issue—cancer, homelessness, crime, bullying—and it is in those moments in life that they develop a passion for making a big difference. There are other times when a child is exceptionally perceptive and compassionate and wants to do something more than just the everyday routines to make an impact in their community.
Whatever the case may be, the difference a child can make should never be underestimated.
A little league team in Northern Virginia has taken that message to heart. Their coach, Kevin Dennis, has deeply known the battle of breast cancer with several of his family members, some who are survivors and some whom he lost to the disease. Because of this, he has led his team, the Dulles Little League AAA DBacks, to make a big difference in their local community.
For every game in October, the boys are all wearing breast cancer awareness wristbands, and some of the parents have committed to donating a dollar for every hit the boys get. Their earned donations will go to Loudoun Breast Health Network, a local organization committed to meeting the needs of breast cancer patients in Loudoun County, Virginia.
This has proven to be an excellent motivator for the team and has truly opened their eyes to how they are never too little to make a big difference. Their enthusiasm has spread across Dulles Little League as many other teams have chosen to participate as well, and the league is making plans to continue these efforts during the spring season.
“It is an opportunity for us to teach them that even though baseball is a great sport, there are bigger things in life than baseball. They can use their love of this great game to make a big difference in a person’s life.” –Coach Kevin Dennis
There are numerous ways children can choose to focus their energies, but we should be sure to encourage ways to be involved in the community, to give to those in need, and to realize there are causes bigger than themselves. Here are a few simple thoughts about how children can easily spend their time making a big difference.
Depending on your children’s interests or passions, there are often opportunities for them to volunteer at places such as nursing homes, homeless shelters, food pantries, hospitals, animal shelters, or other charities. Simply volunteering an hour or two a week will keep your children grounded in their causes, teach them lessons on working hard, and serve as a significant help to these organizations.
A player on the DBacks baseball team, Fletcher M., took it upon himself to go above and beyond simply earning hits for charity. He and a friend decided to do a bake sale to raise additional money and donate these funds to the same breast cancer organization.
Fletcher says about the money they raised, “I really felt like I needed to do this. I knew we could have done a lot of other fun things, but using it to help other people would make more of a difference.”
Having a bake or craft sale is an easy way for a child to use their skills in a fun way to raise money while learning the lesson that giving can be a much better experience than receiving.
With the growing trend of fun runs, such as costume and color runs, kids can promote awareness of the causes or raise money for every mile they run. The same principles can apply to whatever your child’s sport of choice happens to be. Money can be raised for every hit in baseball, every touchdown in football, every goal in soccer, or every mile swam.
Incorporating their favorite sport to give back to the community teaches the valuable lesson that you can use your passions or skills to make a big difference in the lives of others.
There are many organizations that facilitate writing letters to hospitalized children or to deployed soldiers. For the child who prefers more private ways of helping others, this is an easy way to help brighten someone’s day who may otherwise be feeling lonely. If you are near a local military base or children’s hospital, your child could even make arrangements to possibly hand deliver these letters and cards to make this experience even more personal and relatable for them.
When it comes to your child wanting to contribute and make a difference, it isn’t always about the money. Sometimes those who are going through a difficult time simply need someone to be present with them, listen to them, and just show that someone cares. Perhaps the most important lesson your children can learn as they strive to make a big difference in someone’s life is the fact that, even though money can be a significant help, it’s the time spent that is invaluable and irreplaceable.
Do you know of children who have gone above and beyond to make a big difference in their community? We would love to hear their story!