Do Canned Food Drives Cause Problems?

Have you ever wondered if charity projects are actually helping solve a problem? Did you know that some of the most common charity projects, such as canned food drives and volunteering at soup kitchens, can often cause just as much harm as they do good?

Take a canned food drive, for example. I imagine you have purchased a can of food to send to school with your child for the annual Christmas canned food drive, right? Your child feels good about having “helped” a stranger as they drop the can into the box, evident by the smile in their eyes.

By donating a can of food and leaving it at that, we are often reinforcing stereotypes that children hold about people living in poverty.

These stereotypes might include statements such as “People are poor because they are lazy” and “Poor people have chosen to live like that,” when none of these assumptions are necessarily true. You and I both know that a few cans of food are not going to make the world a better place. It takes more than that.

Service is good. But service can be great when you combine service with learning.

The challenge is to not simply engage kids in quick fixes and fun projects but to also help kids learn and then build relationships with the human beings they aim to serve. Sounds harder than just buying a can of soup, right? Might I purpose that helping others should require more than 78 cents to buy a can of vegetables?

The next time your family has the opportunity to help, whether by buying food for a homeless man on the corner or serving at a local soup kitchen, help your child learn as they serve.

You might start by helping your child think about a few of the root causes of poverty. This sounds hard, but it can be as simple as explaining that there are many things that cause people to not be able to buy food or pay for housing. These might include:

  • Difficult Economy. There are a lot of people needing work, but not a lot of jobs available.
  • Lack of Education. Without skills in reading and writing, it is difficult to get a job that can pay the bills. There are a lot of people who have not had the chance to learn, even here in the United States.
  • Medical expenses. Many people, whether rich or poor, develop difficult medical problems that cost a lot of money. Many people are unable to pay for the medical costs as well as continue paying the other living expenses.

These three examples are not the only causes of poverty but are top leading causes of poverty and are also child-friendly.

If there are elements to the situation that you don’t know much about, learn together. We also suggest helping your child imagine being in a similar situation to develop empathy. Ask your kids questions such as:

  • WHO do you think can help this person? Help your child recognize that it’s the responsibility of people to help others who are in need, but often it takes many people to help in any given situation.
  • WHAT are some things you would want if you were in the same situation? Help your child come up with a few ideas, then use these ideas to show kindness to another.
  • WHEN should I help? Help your child think through the importance of caring for his or her needs as well as the needs of others.

Canned food drives, in and of themselves, are not bad. But when the experience does not incorporate opportunities for kids to learn, we are creating a problem.

We are teaching kids that answers to complex issues can be easy, thoughtless and quick.

Stereotypes and prejudices are fostered. Relationships are not developed. And, most frightening of them all, we find ourselves nurturing a shallow understanding of what it means to help, care for and serve others.

We need to give kids the opportunity to get involved and learn about topics like hunger, the need for water, and the importance of hygiene instead of just collecting supplies and moving on to the next thing.

We encourage you to not just go through the motions as you serve others but help your child learn as well.

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Once Upon a Time

Once upon a time, in a land not so far away and not so different than what you and I call home, there was a parent, someone who spent many sleepless nights trying to figure out how to instill values, virtue and good character in their child.

That parent might be you. That parent is definitely me. But this is no fairy tale. Life is tough, and raising kids is hard work. I often find myself wondering how to help my child recognize right and wrong, develop empathy and choose kindness – especially when I’m not looking.

This dilemma has motivated my calling and that of my co-workers here at Antioch Church in Bend, Oregon. We have spent years researching and developing resources to help kids develop compassion, kindness and concern for others. I want to raise kids who are in deliberate pursuit of the interests and welfare of others. Do you? If so, check out our “Favorite Four” below. These four free resources are either created by us or have become a favorite of ours. We’d love to share them with you!

Pursuing Justice: This book is a great read for adults, and is available at Barnes and Noble or Amazon.com. It also offers kid-friendly lessons and activities to help teach kids about the importance of justice and care for others. Each chapter discussion provides answers to questions kids often have, and suggests an activity that will allow you and your family to put these ideas about justice into practice.

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Kid Bios: The easiest way to develop empathy in kids is to stimulate their imagination. Kid Bios give children the opportunity to read true, age-appropriate stories about kids from around the world. Each Kid Bio gives our young people the opportunity to imagine themselves in someone else’s situation and think through how they would feel in that child’s circumstance. Each story also helps parents teach about other cultures and help their kids get involved and pray for different areas of the world. Check out a Kid Bio samples below!. To access all of these Kid Bios, visit www.justicekids.org/antioch

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Family Activities: We love it when families have fun together, and it’s even better when that fun has a purpose. Our Family Activities feature fun games, craft projects, experiments and challenges for adults and kids to do together and also provide a suggested conversation starter to make each activity purposeful in developing value and virtue. Check out three Family Activities below. To access the other 150+ activities, visit www.justicekids.org/antioch 

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 Computer Games: Screen time is a reality for many families, and we have found three games that challenge kids to use their computer skills to help others. What an awesome way to use technology for a great purpose! Check out FreeRice, Charitii, and Answer4Earth by visiting www.justicekids.org/kids.

Don’t you wish you had a Fairy Godmother to help your kids care for others, make wise choices, and share their belongings?

While we cannot guarantee that any of the above resources will provide a happily ever after, we hope these resources will help your family develop a strong sense of right and wrong and a deep care for others. We’d also love to know what things have helped you instill character, values and virtues in your kids. Feel free to leave us a comment with your experiences or questions!

Antioch Kids: Elementary!

In the beginning of their relationship with Jesus, the disciples might not have been the most courageous bunch you’ve ever seen. Remember when the storm blew up and even the most seasoned fishermen woke Jesus in a panic (Mark 4)? But Jesus wasn’t scared. He knew the power and reliability of God. Time and again, Jesus showed His disciples that God would provide whenever they needed Him. As they learned to trust God, the disciples’ courage grew—to the point that Peter and John boldly testified before the Jewish government (Acts 4) about Jesus’ life and resurrection.

Courage is being brave enough to do what you should do, even when you’re afraid. Courage is not the absence of fear but how you respond in the face of fear. When we approach potentially scary situations, we can remember that God is big enough to handle anything, He’ll always be with us, and He’ll provide for our needs.

The monthly memory verse is: “When I’m afraid, I will trust in You,” Psalm 56:3, NIrV. Many of God’s followers will tell you their greatest adventure started when they trusted God in a decision they were afraid of. But in the end, they never regretted living courageously and believing God’s promises.

In Week One’s Bible story, Joseph lived a life of courage (Genesis 30, 37, 39-46). Joseph remained faithful to God regardless of the circumstances, trusting that God must have a bigger story at work. Our Bottom Line is: I can be brave because I know God is with me. As kids approach a new school year, sports team, or art class, they can push past their fear because God is with them.

In Week Two’s Bible story, Moses gives excuse after excuse for why he’s not the person God should use to rescue the Israelites (Exodus 3:1–4:17; Exodus 7-12), but he trusts God and confronts Pharaoh to help God rescue the Israelites. Our Bottom Line is: I can be brave even when I don’t feel ready. God will fill in where we think we don’t measure up. He has everything under control.

In Week Three’s Bible story, Moses was up against an impossible task: On one side is the Red Sea, on the other side is the Egyptian army coming after the Israelites (Exodus 14). Moses stood strong in the face of fear and trusted God with the outcome. Our Bottom Line is: I can be brave even when things seem impossible. When we follow God into what seems impossible, we can see Him do amazing things that we never imagined.

In Week Four’s Bible story, Joshua and Caleb were the only two Israelites who spoke up and said God would provide a way for them to enter the Promised Land (Numbers 13–14). Our Bottom Line is: I can be brave even when others aren’t. Sometimes, everyone is afraid of the same thing. But we can be the ones to have courage because we remember our trust isn’t in our own ideas or strength. Our trust is in God.

In Week Five’s Bible story, we remember God’s promise to Abraham that he would receive the Land of Canaan. But the great city of Jericho is blocking Abraham’s family from moving into Canaan (Joshua 6). Our Bottom Line is: I can be brave because I know God keeps His promises. Sometimes it’s our fear that keeps us from ever living in the promises God has given us.

We want to help your kids keep learning about these important Bible stories and virtues! Make sure to click below and use the God Time Cards throughout the week!

Week 1,  Week 2,  Week 3,  Week 4Week 5

If you want to learn more, click below to watch a short video!

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We can’t wait to see you on Sunday!

By Jessica McKee ©2013 The reThink Group. All rights reserved. www.ThinkOrange.com *Used by permission.

Antioch Kids: Preschool

All month long, preschool kids at Antioch are going to be learning about Joseph! Joseph’s story is amazing! Crazy thing after crazy thing happened to Joseph, but he still loved God and trusted Him. He did his best in every situation because he knew that’s what God wanted from him.

While preschoolers learn Joseph’s story, they will also learn that they were made by God—that they are special. They are unique beings made by the Creator of the universe. You see, God made Joseph the way He did because He had a plan for Joseph. And, God has a plan for you and me and each one of our preschoolers.

God doesn’t promise that the journey will be easy. Joseph’s story is proof of that. God does promise to be with us on the journey. God does promise that He has a plan. God does promise to love us and care for us in every circumstance. And, if we trust like Joseph did, God can use us to do amazing things. He used Joseph to basically save an entire region of the world.

If you want to learn more, click below to watch a short video!

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We provide easy-to-use resources to help you talk to your kids about these Bible stories and truths. Click here to check them out: Small Talk!

We can’t wait to see you on Sunday!