'Tis the season to be giving, and Mattel U.S.A. is offering children a chance to do just that.
The Hawthorne-based toy manufacturer is sponsoring a national drive to collect gifts to distribute to sick, disabled and underprivileged children through national and Southern California charities. Its "Mattel Kids Care Too" campaign, which kicked off Oct. 14, runs at various sites until Dec. 22.
"Mattel has been looking for a program to support community groups," spokeswoman Elizabeth Thomas explained. "This is a way of working with retailers, a way of giving back to children, since obviously children have supported Mattel over the years."
The firm will donate $250,000 cash and $2 million in new toys, including some of its most popular ones.
Children may donate toys at: Long Beach Children's Museum, through Dec. 22; Movieland Wax Museum, through Dec. 20; Westside Pavilion, through Dec. 22; Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, at Children's Symphony on Dec. 16; IMAX Theater in Exposition Park on Dec. 16; Knott's Berry Farm, today; Olvera Street, Las Posadas, Dec. 16-22; Santa's Village, through Dec. 20. Information: Mattel, (213) 978-5648.
The company offers these tips on showing children the importance of giving:
* Teach your child the whys of giving. Explain the significance of gifts at birthdays or religious holidays to give meaning to the act of giving.
* Help your child learn to give appropriately with the "what?" and "how?" questions. What does this person mean to me? What does this person need? How can I help?
* Let your child decide what to give. Encourage initiative ("What does Grandma enjoy?") rather than dictating a choice with suggestions.
* Show your appreciation for a child's efforts by using the gift. If you receive a hamburger key chain or purple change purse, use it rather than leaving it in a drawer. Children notice.
* Use gift selection to explore relationships. Explaining why a gift may be too expensive or too personal is a chance to explore the different levels of relationships.
* Make gift giving an adventure. Involve your child in the whole process of planning, buying, wrapping and giving.
* Set up a matching fund. For every penny your child saves from allowance for gifts or charity, reward him or her with a matching donation.
* Organize a Holiday Fair. Kids can shop inexpensively, making their own purchases from a selection of donated new gifts for sale at nominal prices. This encourages responsibility toward gift giving.
* Set an example. Tithe or contribute to holiday funds when shopping. Take your child along when giving used clothing or canned goods to charity. Give your child something to contribute and discuss your reasons for giving.
* Find examples of giving in daily life. Discuss with your child acts of heroism, charity and giving that appear in the news or happen in your community.
* Offer alternatives to buying gifts. Suggest that your child make a gift or offer a service such as washing a car or taking care of a pet. Make homemade gift certificates and wrap them like presents. Follow up to make sure your child keeps his promise.
* Ask relatives to write thank-you notes to your child. In this way, giving is validated and the child learns good manners from their example.