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I am discombobulated! The aftermath of mega-hurricane Sandy has left even those unaffected anxiety-ridden, disconnected, and thrown off balance. These feelings are universal for both children and adults. With wonder, awe, and a bit of fear thrown in, we were all humbled by Nature’s power. That said, this storm may be the perfect opportunity for one of those “teaching moments” – that the act of giving is as important as the act of receiving. This is the lesson of Hurricane Sandy.

Here are some ideas to help you get started:

-Take your child into his or her closet and find things that no longer fit. Explain that others who have lost so much may be able to wear that t-shirt or those shoes. There is no way that we can possibly reread all our books, replay all our video games, or wear all the clothes/shoes that we have outgrown. But others can!

-Go through your pantry together and see what items are unopened. Those items can be donated to a food bank. Please look at the expiration date so that you do not donate expired food.

-Go into your linen closet and look for extra blankets, pillows, towels, etc. Those are important items to donate as it is getting cold.

-Precisely because the weather is changing, people will need coats, scarves, gloves, and sweaters. Pay extra attention to the need for seasonal clothing.

-Match your child’s allowance with an equal (or double) amount to make a donation to the Red Cross.

-Have a bake sale at your child’s school and donate the proceeds. Get the children involved in the baking, organization, and selling.

Keep current with what the needs of people who have suffered through this natural disaster. It is important to explain that such catastrophic events don’t just happen but have prolonged effects. It will take weeks and even months for some families to recoup what they have lost and they will continue to need help over time.

These simple acts of kindness become lifelong rituals. They carry forth through generations and make indelible memories. One day your child will be transmitting this message of kindness to their children, so that another generation will take care of its community and help with the rebirth of people who may be in need.