Giving Goodness

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

All parents want their children to learn that it's better to give than to receive. But how can they help their little ones grasp the concept?

By practicing it -- especially as a family.

Nikki Henry, director of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Columbus' College Avenue Preschool, said family-style giving sets a good philanthropic example to children while also giving them an opportunity to feel they have actually helped.

"It really gives them a sense of ownership," Henry said, "that they did something that makes a difference." We've compiled examples of charitable activities that families can pursue together -- and in which children can play an especially important role.

Help a sick child


How: Through the Special Occasions giving program at Nationwide Children's Hospital, children ask family and friends to make donations in their honor using a simple online program. The kids who participate will receive a variety of small gifts, including thank-you cards they can mail to those who donate in their honor.

Getting involved: To register, complete the online form at (other programs are tailored specifically to birthdays and other special events). Or, contact Rachel Heine at

614-355-0888 or Then, simply ask family and friends to visit to make a gift in your honor.

Comfort children in need


How: Project "Laila Tov" (Hebrew for "good night") is based on the idea that every night, every child should have something to wear, something to cuddle, something to read and something to snuggle under. At the College Avenue Preschool, the Early Childhood Parent Committee collects donations of new or gently used pajamas, blankets, books, stuffed toys and money, which are then given to the YWCA Family Center. The collection drive runs during Hanukkah, December 11 through 18.

Getting involved: All are welcome to leave donations in a crib set up in the lobby of the preschool, 1125 College Ave., Bexley. Or contact the preschool's director, Nikki Henry, at 614-231-2731 or

Feed a hungry child


How: The FoodBank offers two volunteer programs, one for teens and another for families with younger children. The After-School Volunteer Program offers teens 13 and older a chance to sort and package grocery items for distribution from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. every first and third Thursday afternoon during the school year. More hours are available during the summer and school breaks. The Hunger Helpers program asks families to purchase nonperishable foods like peanut butter and macaroni and cheese from a FoodBank-provided shopping list, then pack and decorate their "Kid Pack" for distribution through a local agency. About 40 percent of the FoodBank's inventory goes directly to children.

Getting involved: Contact the Mid-Ohio FoodBank at 614-274-7770 and ask to speak with volunteer coordinators.

Help care for animals


How: In the "Adopt an Animal" program, a $35 contribution helps feed a specific animal or animal species that your child can visit at the zoo. In return, you may receive fact sheets and photos of your animal, plus an invitation to special Adopt events. Contributions for certain species also earn you a plush toy version of that animal. (Right now, for example, a gorilla or sea turtle adoption package costs $45 and an Asian elephant or African lion package costs $50.)

Getting involved: Call the Adopt office at 614-645-3407, or e-mail them at

Click and search for charity


How: Like Google, GoodSearch helps people find what they're looking for on the internet. The difference is that half of the advertising revenue generated by the site is shared with designated charities. More than 81,000 charities are

registered with GoodSearch in the U.S., with hundreds available to choose from in the Central Ohio area.

Getting involved: Visit and follow the directions for selecting a charity. Then begin using the site's homepage as your search engine.