by Kristina Matisic
There’s nothing wrong with having an occasional treat. But making and sharing treats will be entirely guilt-free this month, especially when it gets kids learning about the value of giving back.
February 25 to March 3 is the BC SPCA’s Treat Week, a time when animal lovers across the province will be making or buying treats and giving them away as thanks for a donation. The funds raised will go towards helping the BC SPCA care for abused, abandoned, and neglected animals in our communities.
What qualifies as a treat? From candy to cookies, and from muffins to macarons, a treat can be anything you want it to be. And yes, giving away dog or cat treats is definitely on the menu as well.
This year, many local businesses are getting involved in Treat Week, donating partial proceeds of featured treats – both sweet and savoury – towards the campaign. But kids across the province are also rolling up their sleeves and learning how to “bake” a difference.
“Kids who engage in volunteering and doing kind acts have increased confidence and are happier than kids who don’t give back. In addition to building community and shaping lifelong habits of doing good, teaching kids how to give back makes them feel great,” say psychologists Dr. Carla Fry and Dr. Lisa Ferrari from the Vancouver Psychology Center.
A sentiment that Laura Young can definitely attest to. Her young daughters, Alice and Lucy, ages six and three, are both involved in Treat Week this year, and Alice has participated in BC SPCA fundraisers in the past.
“They love baking, and they both have a real connection with all things furry (and not) and hate thinking about any animal suffering,” says Young. “My husband and I believe it’s important to involve our children in fundraising because we not only spend time together as a family, but the girls also learn what it means to be selfless. It teaches them compassion and sympathy and will hopefully ingrain a true, lifelong desire to help others.”
“Children aren’t born knowing how to give back, it’s something that needs to be taught,” says Fry. Setting a good example is key. Volunteering or fundraising is also a good way for parents to try to counteract some of the negative images and stories children may see on the news and on social media.
“We can give them the opportunity to channel their frustration or sadness to good use by doing something they have control over. They can’t save all the endangered wild animals. They can’t save all the mistreated pets. They can volunteer to take the elderly neighbour’s dog for a walk. They can bake cookies to give out to neighbours during something like Treat Week,” says Ferrari.
Once the baking and fundraising for Treat Week is complete, take a trip down to the local BC SPCA shelter to show your young fundraisers the impact of their hard work.
“Any kind deed in which kids can actually see or feel the impact of their actions is most powerful. When they see the smile of the senior that they read to, hear the thank you from the fire fighter that they baked cupcakes for, see the clean park after picking up trash, they get the biggest mood and confidence boost,” adds Fry.
For more information about Treat Week and to sign up for free, go to treatweek.ca. And be sure to share your fundraising stories online – and inspire others – by using the hashtag #treatweekbc!