At Baby Ventures, we believe in fostering compassion in children early on through board books depicting our diverse world. So we were delighted to discover Little Loving Hands, a fellow mom-inspired company whose mission is to foster empathy and kindness in little ones with another timeless childhood pastime: crafting.
Founder Lily Yeh came up with a winning formula: Crafting for a cause. Through its subscription program, Little Loving Hands sends children engaging, fun crafts to make, and they in turn gift their completed crafts to those in need. Past projects have included handmade birthday presents for children living in shelters, superhero capes for orphans around the world, and decorated notebooks and chalkboards for students who cannot afford school supplies.
We recently had the pleasure of speaking with Lily and discussing the role of empathy in raising children, the many benefits of giving back, and different ways in which parents can foster empathy in their children.
Fostering empathy in children is quickly (and rightfully) being recognized as an integral part of raising kind, connected children. What was the impetus behind creating Little Loving Hands, and why did you feel it was particularly important to foster a sense of empathy in your own children?
Giving back has always been important to me and I wanted my girls to grow up appreciating what they have, and understanding the importance of caring for others and giving back to those in need. When I first searched for volunteer projects, I found very few opportunities in which young children could participate. My girls have always loved crafts, and as kids learn through hands-on involvement, I realized that creating crafts with a cause would be the perfect way to merge their interest with giving back. Friends and neighbors loved the idea, joined us in the activities, and even began asking for the materials to take home when they couldn’t attend. That was my “ah ha” moment, and I created Little Loving Hands to provide parents and caregivers a fun and educational method to engage children in learning about the importance of empathy.
The craft projects you offer children each month are so fun and unique. How do you select your recipient organizations, and how do you come up with projects that are both engaging for children to make and equally valuable for the recipients?
Coming up with the projects is very a collaborative process with the recipient organizations. When researching charities/organizations, we first determine if the organization has a mission appropriate for a young audience. After we further vet the organization through tools such as Charity Navigator, we reach out to them to discuss their needs and what support we could provide. During this process is where the creativity begins and the project takes shape. Each project includes educational materials about the recipient organization, using graphics and language understandable to kids. Once the organization reviews and approves the materials, we begin to assemble the kits.
What impact have you seen in both the children who do the projects and the recipients?
I love hearing from customers. And I have had many parents tell me that each time the box arrives in the mail, their kids are so excited, not because it’s a package for them, but because they are excited to make something that will help others. Having the subscription service, where each month kids receive a new project, reinforces that idea that giving back is an ongoing experience, not just a one-time thing.
In addition to the direct help we are providing the recipients, often times simply knowing that others care can make a big difference. Seeing photos of the recipients with smiles on their faces or wearing the superhero capes that other children made for them is so rewarding.
Plus, the recipient organizations receive increased awareness and a new potential audience. Many of the organizations adapt our educational materials with age-appropriate language, allowing them to reach out and engage children for the first time.
What are some additional ways in which parents can foster empathy in their children?
Children are born givers. However, without reinforcement, research shows they are socialized to think more about themselves than others as they grow older. Parents and caregivers can help foster empathy by incorporating it in children’s daily lives through action and conversation. When your kids come home from school, not only ask what they learned today, but also if they did anything nice for someone else or helped someone who needed it. Whether it’s simply opening the door for someone or having a conversation about how to help those in need, this continued reinforcement can go a long way in nurturing empathy and compassion in young children.
Learn more about Little Loving Hands here and start crafting for a cause today!