Just before Christmas, my close friends and I went to Twin Oaks Elementary to pay a visit to the Kindergarten class, where we gave away our hand-made stuffed animals for the sake of giving. Our intention on this day was not only to hand out these stuffed creatures, but to show these children that sometimes giving can be better than getting.

Before entering Twin Oaks Elementary, my friends and I were making assumptions as to how the children would respond to the stuffed animals. “Oh, they probably won’t appreciate them as much,” said one girl. “Ya, with all their toys and fancy puppets, they probably won’t enjoy it as much,” said another friend.

When we entered the classroom, we introduced ourselves and so did the little ones. We all sat down and listened as my teacher read “The Giving Tree,” a classic children’s story about the value of giving. As the kids made comments and answered questions about the story, it seemed as if they understood the concept of the story.

We decided, at this point, to finally introduce our stuffed friends. It did not take long at all before the children started shouting “Gimme, gimme” and “Can I have that?” How quickly children forget! You would think we had read to them from “The TAKING tree!” One boy even cried because he didn’t get the stuffed animal he wanted. You can see from a child’s perspective, receiving is more fun. However, we wanted them to know that giving can be just as fun and rewarding.

We truly wanted the children to understand the meaning of giving before we left Twin Oaks, so we made a puppet show based on the values of giving. Each child chose and named a puppet. As they took part in our show, the children started to express themselves with comments like: “They have to give love and friendship” as well as another boy who said, “It’s on the inside that matters, so we have to give...” After our play time session, we all sat on the carpet and asked questions like “What can you give to your parents?” to which they said, almost in unison: love, hugs, kisses, and help. Ah. Mission accomplished! We felt we had succeeded in getting the message across that giving is as good as receiving!

Giving love, being a good friend, and showing kindness don’t cost a thing. However, they’re the most rewarding gifts you can give. It feels good for both the giver and the receiver. It felt great to see how thrilled the children were to receive the hand- made puppets, but we were more excited that they understood the value of giving. We hope that they take this experience with them and always remember it.

-You give but little when you give of your possessions.
It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.

-Khalil Gibran On Giving (except from The Prophet)