Charmaine Tang and Gunjan Jain wanted to teach their 8-year-olds about philanthropy in a valuable way.
After recruiting some of their fellow moms from Lamplighter, along with volunteers from St. Mark’s, University Park Elementary School, and Greenhill, Tang and Jain brought more than 50 families to the food bank over the course of three volunteer sessions. There, children and mothers packed Food 4 Kids bags and made greeting cards.
Food 4 Kids provides backpacks of nutritious food for 11,000 underprivileged children on weekends, when they do not have access to free and reduced-price meals at school. Normally, the minimum age to volunteer at the food bank is 10, but the Kids Against Hunger Council has younger, supervised volunteers.
“It is really awesome to have such young kids, many who are the same age as the kids receiving the backpacks, help out with the community,” said Diana Carranza from the NTFB. “It’s inspiring to see kids helping kids who are just like them.”
The hands-on experience, the mothers believe, gives their children a meaningful understanding of philanthropy.
“At 8 years old, you want the message to be something they can understand as in their world, and their world is Dallas,” Tang said. “So there’s nothing more meaningful than when my son asked me, ‘Mommy, where is this food going? Is it going to kids in Africa?’ and I said, “No, baby, this is going to Dallas.’ You could see the light brighten in his head, ‘Oh my goodness, there are hungry people right here.’ They’re very fortunate children and we wanted them to be aware of this problem.”
The food bank opens the KAHC sessions by explaining hunger issues, and after the children finish volunteering, they count the number of meals that their work will provide.
At a session last year, the council packed more than 1,400 meals.
“The mothers and fathers were so amazed at how this was conversation at the dinner table for weeks about what they learned,” Tang said. “Giving these kids a chance to touch and feel giving, as opposed to writing a check, is really meaningful to children and parents. It really opened a lot of eyes.”
With a successful pilot year under its belt, the KAHC plans to grow.
For many of the children, Tang said, this was their first philanthropic experience, and they would like to continue volunteering.
“People are happier when they have a giving heart, and I think that’s so important, the willingness to love others even if you don’t know them,” Tang said. “The food bank gives me a good opportunity to teach that in a really hands-on way.”