Why Should Charity Begin at Home

Kids often ask “Why should charity begin at home?” We as parents need to explain to our kids…
hand holding bag for charity at home

Kids often ask “Why should charity begin at home?” We as parents need to explain to our kids that like most values, charity is also instilled gradually and it starts from home.

‘Charity begins at home’ is a well known saying, which really means that you should try to help your family and friends. This prepares a good foundation for you to help other people.

Our family is the perfect place to learn about charity and service to others, because charity inculcates the value to serve others, serve one another, and love one another. But to instill these values in kids is not easy, as they are naturally focused on their own needs and they have to be weaned away from their self-centeredness.

Children who have everything cannot imagine what it is like to have nothing or have little. They are not able to place themselves into the other person’s shoes and feel the true feeling of having nothing, or managing within limited means.

It is our job as parents in a family to help them understand that charity begins at home, and it is the responsibility of those who have- to help those who have less or nothing at all. We need to be role models and demonstrate generosity and caring to our children, and get the whole family involved in learning all about charity.

“Charity begins at home, but should not end there.” ~ Thomas Fuller.

The joys of giving should be all year through, and with the holiday season like Christmas and New Year just round the corner, they give us ample opportunity to demonstrate that our home is the right place to begin charity by being generous.

The Christmas season is a good time to start thinking about helping other people by indulging in small deeds like providing food, toys, and clothes. This way you would enable the needy families to also experience the joy of the festive season. After all Christmas is all about giving love, hope, and warmth, and is a good time to share our good fortune with those in need.

Some more things you can give away this festive season as charity that cost you nothing –

“Christmas gift suggestions:
To your enemy, forgiveness.
To an opponent, tolerance.
To a friend, your heart.
To a customer, service.
To all, charity.
To every child, a good example.
To yourself, respect.” ~ Oren Arnold

Charity does start from home and once you accept this fact, you can look for opportunities in and around your house, without having to wait to join a charitable cause or project to start giving.

Think how much fun your children would have if they were told why charity should begin at home, by making them a part of such action. You don’t have to be a philanthropist to make a difference, and besides money, there are other ways families, children, and parents can give.

Like you can contribute-

  • Your talent and creativity by producing or giving blankets and quilts for those in need.
  • Your time by teaching the less fortunate kids near your area.
  • Your old clothes or new ones that you no longer wear, or those that are worn-out.
  • Your books that are not in use any longer or the ones you have already read and outgrown.
  • By giving food to the needy- anything you no longer consume or feel it’s in excess.
  • By recycling your possessions and giving it to the needy so that they may use it.
  • By becoming a big brother or sister and demonstrating the art of giving.
  • By walking the dogs or stray animals to a nearby shelter or feeding them.
  • By donating a service or product.
  • By assembling a hamper of goodies for a sponsored or less privileged family or less fortunate child.
  • By choosing a brand new toy to donate or giving away a used toy that your children no longer need or use.
  • By giving away an old bicycle or electronic appliances, or anything your kids have outgrown and not using any longer.

By giving such charity you demonstrate to children that they can have fun as a family, and also help others in the process.

Should charity begin at home is also something that I asked my parents when I was a child, and they turned out to be role models for me by showing me that giving can be so much fun, and as rewarding as receiving.

They taught me to contribute to the world from my heart and not just the pocket, and by beginning in my own backyard. They also instilled in me that charity begins with ‘me’ first.

I clearly remember an incident that moved me when I was a child. We as a family were passing by in our car and had stopped at the crossings, where we saw an old beggar lying on the street shivering in the cold.

Just as most of us usually do, we passed-by trying to neglect the fact that we saw the poor man shiver in the biting cold, while we sat warmed up with woolens in our car and drove off to a little distance.

It was my mother, one of the most generous and kind hearted persons I have ever seen, who stopped the vehicle, got out of the car, walked up to the man, and just threw across her warm cloak onto him, so easily and selflessly.

That was my first lesson learnt and to date I remember it so well. However, I still have to follow in her footsteps and do as she did, though I try my best to help the needy as much and whenever possible. It is something I am trying to instill into my kids as well. Similarly, we need to change ourselves and the people around us first, before taking on the rest of the world.

“We cannot do great things on this Earth, only small things with great love.” ~ Mother Teresa

There is so much you can give and only so many resources you can share. I strongly feel that there is literally someone you can help in every street, anytime, and every time- provided you want to.

So, rediscover the joy of giving and make your holiday and every day special by remembering that charity begins at home!


Do you feel that charity begins at home? How do you instill the value of giving into your children and your family?



Photo Credit: Stuart Miles

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  1. This is something which my parents taught me as a kid. Every once a week we used to go to the rehabilitation for the homeless and distribute food. As we grow up that habit somehow dwindled because of the growing distractions but my parents made sure they instilled in me a sense of charity. And though I don’t earn much; I make sure I have a little charity box piggy box.

    Not only do these habits teach you modesty and about being humble; they give you the satisfying experience of reaching out and being there for other humans. And no act should be considered small. I feel smaller habits teach you to get to the bigger picture someday.

    When we were in college, we had a group of six friends who made sure we set a part of our allowances every now and then and at the end of the year we sponsored a child’s school fee for the next year. India is a country where education is quite a luxury for a lot of children; so we made sure we sponsored a girl child every year. That is I feel one of ours bestest way to give back.

    1. Glad you could relate to the post Hajra!

      Nice to learn about your noble thoughts and deeds, something that most of us yet have to learn! I feel your parents did the right thing to teach you about the joy of giving or charity at a young age, which is the reason you are so generous where giving is concerned 🙂

      To think about the homeless and under privileged, and to be able to help them in whatever ways possible is the best thing you can do. It really doesn’t depend nor matter about how much you earn, as even a little bit given or done for the needy is doing good in my eyes.

      I remember my mom always telling me that no matter how much you earn, always remember to give one-tenth to the poor. She was a real giver in the real sense, and her acts of kindness remain ever so fresh in my memory 🙂

      I love your outlook about such acts of kindness teaching you to be humble, satisfying and developing compassion in you. Yes indeed, it’s these smaller habits that make you the person you are today.

      Sponsoring a child is indeed a noble act of kindness, and to give charity or pay for their education is the best way to help them. All that matters is that you learn to share and give to others, a little of what you have- isn’t it?

      Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your experiences with everyone 🙂

      1. I like the point about one tenth! Having to think you put a certain percentage might make it easier to make charity a habit.

        I remember my parents telling me this; no matter what you earn, think of those who are dying of hunger, those who don’t have clean water to drink, those who don’t have a roof over their heads. Be thankful for whatever you earn and go out and give the helping hand. Only then will the world be as beautiful as you want to be!

        1. It does make things easier, though so often I forget this important lesson. But yes, when I do remember I make sure to give in kind or in bulk. And it’s something I am instilling in my daughters as well 🙂

          I guess our parents taught us the same things about those wonderful lessons you mentioned! I can never forget them and remember them by the word 🙂

  2. Hi Harleena,

    Thanks for the kind comments. Perhaps it has been our own life experiences which has taught us all about the “kindness of strangers” and the need to give back. My oldest son went through a life-threatening illness several years ago, and we learned just how much a simple gesture of kindness can mean for those in need.

    I look forward to your next inspiring article!

    1. Most welcome Carol!

      You are quite right about the need to give back, which of course is related to our own life experiences. I guess when we are taught about giving back, or we pick it up from our parents or friends- we learn it better. And as long as you give- in any form- is all that really matters.

      Thanks for stopping-by 🙂

  3. This is so inspirational!

    I know I am bit “late to the party” but I just “found” your blog via another blogger’s site, and just read this post. We have been teaching our kids since an early age to give back in a variety of ways, and I must say, I do think they get it!

    My youngest son’s 8th birthday was this past December. While preparing for it, I asked him what he wanted his friends to bring to his party. He asked that they don’t bring him gifts, but instead bring a gift he could donate to the local kids’ toy drive. He proudly dropped off two bags of toys several days later, including one of his own gifts from us! Just think what the world could be like if everyone did just one act of kindness like this a month!

    1. Welcome to the blog Carol!

      It is never too late, so don’t really worry about that. And I am glad you stopped over at the blog through someone else’s blog!

      I must say you have done wonders for your kids by instilling such values in them at this young an age, no wonder they are doing just as they were taught! I marvel at your little boy who donated so many of his toys without really thinking about himself, that is truly selfless 🙂

      I too wish there were more people like your boy or parents like you who are able to instill such values in their kids, which starts showing it effects right from a young age.

      Thanks for stopping-by and sharing your experiences with everyone 🙂

  4. In most countries, a donation made by an individual will provide him or her with an income tax deduction.

    1. Welcome to the blog Kenny!

      Yes indeed, you are so right there about income tax deduction if a donation is made as charity. I can see that from the link in your name what you mean.

      Thanks for stopping-by. 🙂

  5. I don’t have kids yet Harleena. I’m still looking to get married (you don’t know any nice girl do you? 🙂 ), but I loved the list of ways one can contribute to the community, which can then be displayed to children as forms of charity… really nice.

    1. Ah…I wish I could have helped you where girls are concerned Hiten!

      I would need to know the kind of girl you are looking out for 🙂 Yes indeed, the list of contributing to charity is not connected with only children, as anyone who is willing to contribute and give- can start anytime. I guess only the will and intentions are required.

      Thanks for stopping-by. 🙂

  6. Hi Harleena,

    What a wonderful topic! You have really given us some great ideas to consider and very practical to implement! In this society even those who struggle financially still tend to have a lot compared to most of the residents of the planet.

    One thing that I do is that I will not give our used clothes to thrift stores who just turn around and sell it, usually for profit. I give our clothes to either people who are needy that we know of or I give them to a clothing bank that never sells any clothes and if they can’t use them here they ship them overseas to the truly poor.

    I am now inspired to think of more ways to teach charity to my children.


    1. Welcome to the blog Stacy!

      Glad you liked the topic and the ideas. Yes indeed, there are many ways to give and help the needy, provided we are ready to give!

      It is any day better to give our used clothes, electronics, or other things to the poor or needy, instead of giving them to places or people who would recycle or turn them around and sell for profit. Clothing bank sounds an interesting concept, and it would be nice if most places have such places around to help the needy.

      Thanks so much for stopping-by. 🙂

  7. Leena, aloha. What a beautiful post; I especially liked the poem.

    Charity does begin at home as well it should. If you love someone as presumably people family members do, it makes sense to do for them before doing for others.

    What a wonderful example and high standard your mother set. Would that all parents set the bar so high.

    Though I do not have children to teach, I do believe in giving. Leena, whenever I am no longer using something of any type, I give it to an appropriate charity. In fact, responding to a post on Carolyn’s I told her I donate old cell phones to an organization that sends them to service people.

    Each month I give cash donations to various charities. While I have certain set charities, I always like to give to whatever charity strikes my fancy for the month. to me, it’s fun to discover to charities to gift.

    Since I was long involved in the fund raising industry, I know how important the gift of time is. No matter how much money a charity raises, they always need volunteers to help with projects.

    The gift of time, of course, is not just limited to charities. People need help with things as well. To me it is very satisfying to help people with projects. Also, I think having a friend help is even more motivating for the person whose project it is.

    And, of course, charity is a year round rather than an annual event. Leena, your children are so fortunate to have you, who has learned so well from your mother, showing the way

    Wishing you a Mele Kalikimaka. Aloha. Janet

    1. Aloha Janet!

      Glad you liked the poem and post. Yes indeed, I think charity does begin at home, just as so many other values that are instilled in us when we are kids.

      My mother has always been a true ‘giver’ in the real sense, though I have yet to follow in her footsteps and try to become a little like her. I do try my level best, yet I feel I fall short at times. Similarly, I try instilling such values in my girls as well- who are in their learning phase.

      Donating, sharing, and giving our used things to charity is a big way to contribute and help the needy. And yes, I did read your comment at Carolyns post about the cell phones, which sure is a wonderful idea. 🙂

      Gifting to charities or cash donations is of course a great way to share a part of your earnings with those in need, which very few are really able to do, either due to financial constraints, or other problems. Wonderful to learn that you are involved in charities and donations.

      My parents always did teach us to donate part of our income each month- either by giving it to the poor, needy, organization, or charity. What mattered most was that small amount coming out of your pocket and going for a good cause.

      I totally agree with the charities needing volunteers for helping them out, and giving a little of your time for a good cause is also part of charity. Yes indeed, there is no fixed time of the year for charity- I guess it begins whenever you are ready and wanting to give!

      Ah…you caught me there Janet, as I had to google up the word ‘Mele Kalikimaka’ to find out that it is a Hawaiian term for Merry Christmas! Wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year as well!

      Thanks so much for stopping by and adding so much value to the post 🙂

    1. Welcome to the blog Noch-Noch!

      I love those words of Confucius, which are so true. We do need to begin and start with ourselves before we try to change and make a difference to the world. Everything does begin at home, and most importantly, within us!

      Thanks for stopping-by, and I love your name- sounds so very unique and different. 🙂

  8. I agree Harleena that charity should start at home. It is important to instill values like generosity to our kids while they are still very young.

    1. Glad you could resonate with the post Justin!

      Yes indeed, our basic values are always instilled at home while we are still young. Charity is something that is often forgotten, unless we have parents who are also givers and make it a point to instill these values into their children as well.

      Thanks for stopping-by. 🙂

  9. Blessings Harleena,

    A timely message at anytime of the year, especially at the this of the year with so much emphasis on giving and receiving. Nice to remind us where it all begins–at home and from the values and examples we see around us.

    1. Welcome to the blog Ntathu!

      Glad you could relate to the post. Yes indeed, there is no time for giving and receiving, though this time of the year my heart goes out more to those who are really needy and the post was a gentle reminder to those who have a little more, to share with those who have less.

      Congratulations on your achievements as well at winning a second position at the contest- cheers to that!

      Thanks so much for stopping-by. 🙂

  10. Hi Harleena,

    This is truly a touching post and coming at a time like this, it gives us the incentive to go out there and ensure that we touch the lives of others in this period of Christmas.

    I’m truly touched by that quote from Mother Teresa, “We cannot do great things on this Earth, only small things with great love.” Small things with great love, what insight! So, there can not really be any excuse. What you need is to ensure that what you’re giving is wrapped in love!

    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Welcome to the blog Chadrack!

      Glad you could resonate with the post, and yes indeed- this time of the year feels so right to begin sharing with others (if we haven’t yet started!), a few of the things we may have in abundance.

      I loved that quote of Mother Teresa as well and that is what made her a selfless and giving person. Her deeds of love and charity have no words. Yes indeed, I think we have no excuses for not giving or sharing what we have with the needy. And the lessons always begin with learning about the joys of giving at home!

      Thanks for stopping-by. 🙂

  11. Parents with a single child have to work harder to make him understand the importance of giving to charity. In families with at least two kids it’s easier because they already exchanged toys, clothes and so on; kids give up their stuff easier because they were raised this way.

    1. Welcome to the blog Robert!

      Yes, it can be difficult at times to make a single child understand the importance of giving as they have no one to share things with when when they were young. But, a lot depends upon us as parents to ensure that such single children are given extra attention, love, and care- and taught about the joys of giving to others.

      Thanks for stopping-by. 🙂

  12. HI Harleena,

    Funny this post came up. Lately I have been stuck in a dilemma of whether I should give money to charities even though our family is pretty financially challenged. What do you think? Should we give our money even in times of need?

    I like the fact that we can give more than money. Really there is so much we can give beside money. I like your list here. I do have so many redundant things to give away.

    My family was evicted from our home just 3 days ago. But, I tell, you, it is actually very liberating to be out of that old place. My spirits are lifted and because of that my family is also happier. It also provides a great opportunity for us to pack and give away many unnecessary thing now. Strange how the universe works.

    Bless you my friend.

    1. Glad you could resonate with the post Jimmy!

      Sad to learn about your family being evicted from your house, but just as you said- it’s a blessing in disguise. I guess everything that happens, happens for a reason, and seeing the positive in this would be that maybe your family needed a change of place, and it was a good chance for you to give away all your old stuff, thus the eviction was a medium for you to get away from your old place, and hopefully into a better and nicer place.

      Regarding giving monetary or financial charity- I was always told by my parents that no matter how much you earn, it is always good to give one-tenth of the portion as charity (of course the proportions may differ depending on your earning and how much you would want to give). Whether you give it to organizations, some institutes, hospitals, or just the needy people around- it doesn’t matter- as long as you give!

      But giving money is not the only way you can help out, as there are so many other ways to give charity- as mentioned in the post. So, if you feel that funds are tight and you are not able to give as much as you would want to, it’s surely a good idea to make use of all the things lying waste in your house and give them to the poor and needy.

      Thanks for stopping-by. 🙂

  13. Great post Harleena!

    If children learned good traits at home they will take them to the whole world
    Thank you 🙂

    1. Glad you liked the post Farouk!

      Yes indeed, whatever we instill in our kids, is what they learn and pass on to the world and people around them.I guess as parents this is the least we can do!

      Thanks for stopping-by. 🙂

  14. Hi Harleena, Greetings!

    Another inspirational post! I agree, I learned charity from my parents who always helped others in need. My mother used to take her ironing to a woman’s house to help her earn money. The woman was so severely deformed that my mother didn’t want us to see her so we would stay in the car while she dropped off and picked up my father’s shirts. That taught me that charity didn’t necessarily mean giving through traditional channels.

    My father has consistently volunteered throughout his life, especially since he retired. He has given in so many ways, including advising young people on their resumes and interviewing skills through the church. He was also head of the American Red Cross Disaster Relief efforts in our hometown.

    Thank you for a wonderful reminder, Harleena, about the giving of the season and that it doesn’t need to be through a traditional organization!

    1. Greetings to you as well Carolyn!

      Glad you found the post inspirational. It is indeed wonderful to learn about your parents, especially your mother who had her own way of giving and doing charity. I liked the way she hid the fact of giving the ironing clothes to the poor woman from all of you, yet did her share of helping the needy.

      I guess after retirement, your father, similar to my father who also retired from the Army- take up to volunteering and helping people with small things- and it’s their way of helping and reaching out to people.

      I think to help out people in whatever small way you can is charity in itself. We really don’t have to look around for institutions or huge organizations to contribute, as charity begins right with us- and from our homes.

      Thanks so much for adding more value to the post, and sharing your experiences with everyone. Have a wonderful festive week ahead as well 🙂

  15. Hi Harleena,

    I absolutely believe charity begins at home and I’d go further and say that “giving” really begins with giving to ourselves first. From there it becomes an extension to give to our family and friends and then those we don’t know.

    I love all your ideas for giving to others and am especially pleased that you mentioned that this does not have to financially based.

    In our family it has always been a tradition to give immediate members two gifts, one where dollars have been spent and the other a gift of our time, talents, skills etc.

    From young this taught me about the value of giving in a variety of ways and that even when we don’t have a lot of money we still have an abundance to give.


    1. Glad you could relate to the post Marcus!

      Yes indeed, charity does begin with giving to ourselves, but things that are more than materialistic or those that you can count in terms of money, I feel. And then it comes to our family, friends, and everyone else.

      Charity indeed does not have to be financially based as most people tend to think. In-fact there is so much to give and in so many ways that I fall short at times. I guess the smallest of deeds, gestures, and actions mean a lot at times to the person you are giving.

      I like the idea of your family tradition with a nice blend of giving a real gift where you do spend money, and the other where you give a part of your true self. I guess this method works best with children and is a learning lesson for them as well, just as you learnt when you were young!

      Thanks so much for adding more value to the post 🙂

  16. A very heartfelt and fitting post, Harleena. Thank you for this beautifully written piece.

    We indeed learn this lesson at home; where were taught by our family members the joy of sharing charity with others. Sometimes the lesson is learned outside of the home, but for the most part it’s is intended to be instilled home.

    In the beginning of our lives we learn charity from the loving touch of our mothers. They initially are the first to show you charity; or whomever a person may have been raised up by. That first touch, that first lesson, those first understood words of, “I Love you”.

    While we may be able to learn it, give it, or receive it; it always begins at home.

    The quotes were wonderful, but I especially loved the ways that one can contribute charity. Very nice ideas.

    This was really touching, Harleena. It was also right on time for Holidays. 🙂

    1. Glad you could resonate with the post Deeone!

      Charity is indeed something we all learn from home and the biggest teachers are mostly our parents or grandparents, whom we see giving things away or donating to charity. As we grow up and move out, we do tend to see other people doing the same, or may learn about other ways to give charity via some organizations or institutions as well.

      Yes indeed, our parents are the biggest givers of charity and love they shower upon their children, and their giving is selfless. Wish we could learn so much more from them. But yes, I know my biggest lessons have always been when I learnt from home, including charity.

      Thanks so much for stopping-by and adding more value to the post 🙂

  17. I agree with Praveen, another great post from you Harleena,

    I also love that Christmas poem/quote, lovely.

    You are so right, it should start at home. Unlike Praveeen, I certainly don’t mind sharing what I do. You also know that I don’t have any children so I’ve learned these things from my own mother and still do them to this day. To name a few:

    * I give my old clothes to the thrift shop which is run by the Women’s Christian Association.
    * I give my old magazines and books to MD Anderson for others to enjoy.
    * I recycle everything that I can plus I just learned from Carolyn that I can give our old electronics to charities so that the kids can learn how to take them apart and possibly make them work to be given it to the needy.
    * My Mom knits shawls for MD Anderson’s patients because they keep the hospital so cold. I only wish I had her talent but I have learned, I don’t have the patience.

    I do donate to other charities to help them in need but this is really all I do at the moment. I think that every little bit helps.

    Thank you for sharing this and reminding us that it does start at home. I’ve now brought it online and I love helping others as you very well know.

    Hope you enjoy your weekend Harleena and thanks again.


    1. Glad you found the post worthwhile Adrienne!

      Ah- the Christmas poem I came across while looking for the apt quote for the post, and it seemed just perfect to be placed between the lines.

      Some people prefer to remain anonymous about the charity they give or the ways they contribute to the society, but I guess when you are talking about giving from home you should share your ideas and views with others, so that everyone learns from them.

      Loved the things you learnt from your mother, especially the recycled items. Carolyn’s post was truly awesome and I wished we had a similar site at our end as well, though would only need to find out more about it. It is indeed a wonderful gesture to knit shawls to give away to the patients in this cold weather. Am sure they would send blessings in abundance for your mother and you. 🙂

      Yes indeed, the smallest of deeds and actions help. We certainly don’t have to empty out our pockets to give charity or donate things, as there are so many other ways to help out the poor and needy.

      Thanks so much for adding more value to the post by sharing your experiences with everyone. I am sure the readers of the blog would benefit from your ideas as well 🙂

  18. Harleena – Another great post from you.

    I like the quote about the Christmas Gift ideas, they are very meaningful and one has to really bring these thoughts to their kids and family for a better tomorrow.

    One thought – Your last question about “What do you do for charity” doesnt sound very practical since my thought is that a person has to keep his well-doings to himself and not make it public. I wouldn’t want to share what I did to help someone or an organisation. But hey, it is just me 🙂

    Very nicely written and I am sure to share it with my network. Thanks.

    1. Glad you liked the post Praveen!

      Yes indeed the Christmas quote idea was perfect for the post I felt, though I hope people do follow them!

      You are so right in pointing out about the last question, which I thought I had removed earlier but forgot. I just did that as I too feel that when one hand gives, the other should not know about it or else the whole meaning and charm of charity goes.

      Thanks for stopping- by. 🙂

  19. This is the start of an important discussion in every family! Great information!

    When my kids were little, we used to open the tzedaka (charity) box each week. We separated out the coins, they learned to count them and wrap them. They got to pick the charity to which these funds went, which I doubled in value. [The coins came from my pocket each night- Sundays and Wednesday were nickels, Monday and Thursday were dimes, and Tuesday and Fridays were quarters. Pennies were dropped in each day.] We also worked the local soup kitchen on certain days so the staff could have a holiday (Christmas and Easter).

    This method not only teaches charity- it teaches your young kids about coins, counting, and the value of choice.

    1. Welcome to the blog Roy!

      Glad you could resonate with the post and found it useful. I liked the way you have been with your kids and taught them about charity, especially the way your kids collected the coins in the tzedaka ( nice new word for me!), wrapped it up and how you doubled its value while giving away. Indeed, a wonderful idea!

      Collecting coins as you mentioned, does teach children how to count, collect, save, and value money, besides learning how to give it away as charity.

      Thanks so much for sharing your experiences with everyone, and for stopping-by.:)

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