Celebrities and city kids had fun at the NYC Free Arts Kidsfest

Giving Back: How To Get Children Involved In Charity

I’m always seriously impressed by working mothers who not only stay two steps ahead at work while raising their family, but who also find the time to meaningfully give back by supporting charities that matter to them. Dianne Vavra, Senior VP Press Relations, Dior Beauty, is at the top of my list in this category. When I sat down with her for a supermom interview (which will be posted next week and is packed with amazing tips), she dove headfirst into talking about the importance of giving back and making it a family affair. Here are her tips on how to get children involved in charity—and make it fun for the whole family.

“It’s important in today’s world of tech-preoccupation to raise children who are aware, respectful and kind—who think about those who are less fortunate and discover ways they can help,” says Dianne. “When a child realizes she can make a difference in someone else’s life, no matter how small the effort, it’s a great moment for her and for you. It empowers them to want to do more and boosts their self-esteem,” she adds.

Free Arts NYC is a charity that Dianne, along with her children, Eve (13 years old) and Tom (11 years old), support because it helps children who have been abused, are homeless or forgotten in the system. The organization holds fundraisers throughout the year, but Dianne and her family get behind the Annual Free Arts NYC Kidsfest—Dior Beauty is a main sponsor and Dianne’s kids have donated their time working different art stations to help younger kids have all the fun.  “I first attended the event four years ago with my kids and they loved it so much and made so many crafts that they gave away as holiday presents, I quickly realized this was a charity that we could all get behind. I’m involved in a lot of charities, but it’s fun to do it with your kids. It’s even more fun when it’s something that they really like!” says Dianne. At their 4th annual event, which just took place a few weeks ago, over 300 parents and children enjoyed an afternoon of decorating t-shirts, Model Magic mask making, glitter tattoos, portraits and more. It drew locals and celebrities alike, such as Kelly Rutherford and Naomi Watts (shown above, with Dianne in the middle)—and I had a blast with my family!

NYC Free Arts Kidsfest had cookie decorating, glitter tattoos and t-shirt making activities.

From left: Lucy and I made a Model Magic mask, Amelia’s glitter tattoo, Dianne Vavra welcoming her guests, Amelia’s tie-die t-shirt.

Operation Smile helped save this little girl's life. If getting your family involved with a specific event sounds like too much of a time-commitment, Dianne has a few easier suggestions. “Eve and Tom have also saved Tooth Fairy, birthday and holiday gifts to pool together enough money to donate an operation to Operation Smile. They saw a video of how children who are born with a cleft palette but can’t afford the operation to fix it are often shunned and even abandoned.  When they learned that an operation could help these kids, they wanted to do something. So they saved and sent in their form and were so thrilled to receive a thank you note and this photo of a little girl, whose life and family were changed forever because of their act of kindness. Realizing that they made a difference made them want to do more,” says Dianne.

And don’t forget about donating toys and clothes—kids can be involved with that process from beginning to end. “Tom grows so quickly, he constantly needs new trousers and sweats. It’s really good for the kids to pick out what they want to give away, especially toys because it’s an emotional decision—it’s not just because it doesn’t fit anymore. They have memories attached to them that can be hard but meaningful to pass on. We do everything together—from researching which local charity interests him, to packing it up and driving to dop it off. It’s important for him to see where it all goes and what it is used for. Right now, he’s very into the YMCA.,” says Dianne.

Bottom line: It doesn’t take a lot to get children involved in charity—and the rewards, for  you and your children, are exponential. “It’s most important that kids become involved in a cause they enjoy, so they stick with it. Last year, Eve became a junior firefighter. She attends workshops once a month and volunteers time for fundraising activities. She loves being one of the few girls on the “squad” and I’m thrilled that she’s learning CPR and how to cope in emergency situations. She’s excited that what she’s learned will help her be a more responsible babysitter!” says Dianne. Next up, Eve will be working with Glam4Good, an organization founded by Mary Alice Stephenson, another supermom we will have to chat with.

Are your kids involved in charity? If so, take a minute to share your tips.

We hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving and wonderful holiday season!!!!

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