Idol Gives Back: A Way to Teach Gratitude

Sometimes, the media can be used for the power of good. Perhaps some of your children stayed up to watch “Idol Gives Back” last night, a star-studded charity show used as a vehicle to raise millions of dollars for several children’s charities around the world.

Since we’re focused on gratitude month in all Powerful Words family member schools, it’s important to find examples of giving and giving back. As you will see in the last week of this month’s curriculum, we will be talking about what charity and giving back has to do with gratitude. Questions such as; Can giving back feel as good as receiving? What does giving have to do with gratitude; and How do you feel inside when you give to someone and it’s appreciated? Will help the children tie gratitude to giving, not just receiving.

These questions, along with others, will help children, who are so often focused on “what’s in it for them” to focus on others who don’t have as much. This helps in several ways; (1) They recognize how blessed they are; (2) They see that while they may not have everything they want, they have what they need; (3) They can discuss the “people in need” that many are working to help and support across the world; (4) They can see powerful words such gratitude, charity, citizenship, and empathy in action; and (5) They can connect the power of giving to the powerful word, charity.

Idol Gives Back:

Charities: The Children’s Defense Fund, The Global Fund, Make It Right, Malaria No More, Save The Children, U.S. Programs and the Children’s Health Fund.

Celebrities: Annie Lennox, Celine Dion, Bono, Carrie Underwood, Brad Pitt, Robin Williams, Forest Whitaker, Billy Crystal, Dane Cook, Kiefer Sutherland, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale, Jennifer Connolly, Elliott Yamin, Fantasia and Amy Adams, Reese Witherspoon, Miley Cyrus, Mariah Carey, Eli Manning, Peyton Manning, Fergie, Chris Daughtry, John Legend, Snoop Dogg, Maroon 5, Heart and Gloria Estefan.

If your children did watch some or all of Idol Gives Back, take the opportunity to talk to them about giving to charity and being grateful. Even if you believe the concept has flaws, you can use the media hype to discuss something very meaningful. Why do they think so many celebrities got involved? What stuck out for them? How do the celebrities give back? Tell them how you feel about giving to others and how you have given of your time, effort, or money to assist others in need. How would they like to help? Perhaps they would like to give some of their money to charity (i.e. allowance or birthday money). Perhaps as one of their spring activities, they’d like to donate their time to a local charity. There are many things they can do, that don’t cost any money at all, that can really help others and fill the heart with gratitude.

In the spirit of gratitude, we thank you.


3 Responses

  1. I am all for helping the under dog, but I RESENT multi-million dollar stars telling me to give-they need to put their hand in their pocket and give.
    I know some do, but I really think it is an extremely poor choice to have people with SO much money asking for donations?????????????

  2. Hi Vicki-

    I certainly do understand your resentment. Your values are very strong and it’s clear that you feel that if you have a lot to give, you should. What a great message for children.

    With regard to last night’s celebrities, it did run through my mind that all celebrities who are so blessed should give big. I believe that the celebrities that were in last night’s broadcast did indeed give to the charities mentioned through Idol Gives Back. I imagine that they gave money– but they also gave their time, which in turn, brought in money for those people who are desperately in need.

    Of course, many celebrities don’t give back and spend money frivolously. We see it on TV and in the magazines everyday– $4000 purses, $500 shoes, $75 million dollar weddings. That’s enough to make anyone’s stomach turn. Interestingly, often the best “givers” are not the ones who have the most, but rather those who know the true value of money. Many people give 10% of the earnings to charity even when that makes living a bit tight for them.

    When celebrities ask for people to give, people tend to give. Unfortunately, if our neighbor “Sue” stood up on that same stage, people would not likely respond in the same way. It’s a sad thing, but true. Celebrities pull viewers and get people to take action in ways that ordinary people don’t.

    The important thing here is to teach children that everyone should do their part. If you have a lot of money, you should give big. If you have only a little money, give only what you can. This is a strong message to children– there are always people who are in need. Help doesn’t need to come in the form of money at all– it can be time, energy, and sweat. Even a little something can make a big difference.

    Thank you!

    Dr. Robyn

  3. I’ll add that it’s never too early to seed philanthropy with kids as well. We ran a series on Shaping Youth about this, and I’m about to do a post on an 18-year old girl who’s written seven books on the subject called “77 Creative Ways Kids Can Serve”

    Here’s my post on Shaping Youth Through Philanthropic Fun (which talks about how we have teens do an ‘in her shoes’ style event to learn about other kids/regions BEYOND celebs visiting the locales!)

    And here’s one on Marketing Mindfulness to Kids:
    (Giving vs. Receiving)

    Finally, Dr. Robyn, I agree with you that it’s a matter of ‘degree’ in terms of the extended helping hand given and our expectations w/wealthier ‘high visibility’ people …but whether it’s Oprah’s Big Give, Kiva & the Reality juggernaut as I mentioned here:

    …or the Live Earth celeb fest that raised awareness but got serious recoil on the carbon footprint side, we all need to balance out the cost benefit analysis of ‘feel good back patting’ vs. sustainable change…when it comes to vetting the celebrity circuit.

    Amy Jussel
    Founder/Exec. Director

    Every little bit helps!

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