Malcolm Evans, a 6-year-old from Charleston, might not have particularly enjoyed giving away some of his trucks and cars this year to donate to Goodwill, but his mom Kate said he did seem to like the feeling of helping someone.
It's a feeling that she said he's just now truly able to process and understand, and it's one that defines the holiday season for many people of all ages: the spirit of giving.
She's also introduced the concept to her 3-year-old Henry, though she said he's still in the phase where it's hard enough to share a toy with his brother, much less give one away to a stranger.
He hasn't yet grasped the abstract concept, but she believes instilling at least the idea early on is important, and the holidays are a good time to do it.
"Part of it is the season," she said. "You want to teach generosity and altruism and love."
Malcolm even tried brainstorming some other ways to help those in need after the first donation.
"It helped him start thinking, 'How else can we help somebody or who else might be in need?'" Evans said.
And there's a real need in the Lowcountry for donations from and for children, including at North Charleston-based nonprofit Lowcountry Orphan Relief.
The organization, founded in 2013 by Lynn Young, provides necessities to kids identified as at-risk or suffering from abandonment, abuse or neglect in Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester counties.
This year, Lowcountry Orphan Relief served more than 3,000 South Carolina kids in need with everything from socks and underwear to toothbrushes and classroom supplies. During this holiday season, Young said there were 4,000 orders for items placed by foster care system workers, schools and the other nonprofits that Lowcountry Orphan Relief services.
She said, for kids, it can be more relevant to donate to other kids.
She cited a 5-year-old boy who, for his birthday party, got all his friends to bring presents that he could donate to the Lowcountry Orphan Relief. He came by in person and excitedly showed Young each of the items that would help other kids in need. He understood and was delighted by the concept, she said.
"It's never too early to teach a child to bundle up a gift, give to Goodwill or the Salvation Army or take them to serve some food to those in need," Young said. "It teaches pure compassion, empathy and how to put others before yourself. It’s those thoughts that you implant in a child at an early age that they will never forget. It will be instilled in them forever. And seeing their parents give back is important, because that sets the example."
Young said she hopes that, especially around the holidays, families will all come out together to volunteer and lend a helping hand.
"I think it starts with your family," mom Evans said. "Then, it can broaden it to the community as that appreciation and understanding grows."
Lowcountry Orphan Relief is particularly asking for kids' shoes and giftcards to stores like Walmart, Target and Payless, as well as volunteers this holiday season. Visit lowcountryorphanrelief.org or call 843-747-4099 to donate and find out more information.