Gifts of Character: Charity – The Definition

Each month we will discuss one gift of character with all of our students. This month the word is Charity. This life skill will be defined in the following ways for our students.

Young students: Charity  means: I give to those in need!

Older students: Charity means: Volunteering to give treasures, talents,or time to those in need.

We are not your typical after school activity, in fact, we are an education center, working with students on physical self-defense skills while empowering families to bring out the best in our children and ourselves – through the martial arts. We believe every child has 52 gifts in them already. They only need to be taught how to grow and use them in their life. Balanced Life Skills serves parents, teachers and students to reach that goal.

If you would like to see Joe Van Deuren and Balanced Life Skills at work, TRY CLASSES FOR FREE for 2 weeks.

Holiday Gift Card Collection — Crunch Time!

Very recently, Balanced Life Skills has been contacted by two local Anne Arundel County Schools to support SIXTY homeless students this holiday season. BLS is proud to be recognized by local schools as a community of students and families that give & serve!

$40 in gift cards per student in the next TWO WEEKS.
Due Date: Monday, December 16th by 5:00 pm


Purchase an extra $5, 10, 15, 20, or 25 gift card the next time you’re out getting gas, grocery shopping, or picking up presents from the following places:

Visa Gift Cards
American Express Gift Cards
Westfield Annapolis Mall Gift Cards
Various Teenage Clothing Department Stores


The schools have presented us with a large task and a short amount of time, but it’s The Balanced Life Skills Way to accept a challenge by asking, “what’s great about this?”

We can practice time management, the spirit of giving, and change the holiday for a teen in need by contributing to Balanced Life Skills’ 2013 Gift Card Collection

Emphasis on Teamwork In the Family Builds Volunteering Habits

When we volunteer our time to a cause or to helping an organization fulfill their mission we receive a great feeling of contributing. Contribution is one of six ‘needs’ that every human has within them and if this need is not filled then we cannot feel the best about ourselves. For some individuals this is stronger than for others, but everyone once other needs are filled, want to be able to contribute to others.

Family teamworkWhere does this begin? It is my belief that contribution of our time should begin at home with our family, and be started early in life. Our family is our “most important team” we can contribute to. Learning to volunteer our time to support the “team” by doing our part, helping others, or supporting the good of the family is how we learn to do so for others.

While some may find themselves doing for others in order to feel significant in the community, first and foremost should be our family. As the lead volunteers in the family, parents who do everything without pay, can include the children – not to do chores – but rather to “be on the team”.

How can we demonstrate good teamwork at home? What can we do to help our parents or spouse save some of their time – so we the team can be together for other activities? Teamwork (not chores) volunteering (not a job) giving our time (practicing charity) are developed when we are aware, have compassion and respect for our teammates. Using these words changes the feeling and meaning of our practices at home.

How the Talents of Children Are Used To Teach Charity

Understanding that giving to others does not always have to be about giving money or “treasures”, but can be about giving of our talents can be very rewarding. This week I talked to our students about what they were good at that might be of value to another person. They had all sorts of ideas and they literally saw themselves being good at many different things, though most of them were physical activities (swimming, bike riding, monkey bars soccer). Soon though they began to realize that they also were good at drawing, singing, coloring, cooking, even teaching.

boy-and-grandma-on-laptopThe next question is how can we use those talents to help others?Could they perform and entertain either to make money to be donated, or just to cheer someone else up? How could they use their love for animals to actually help those animals that had lost their home? What could they do a piece of art work for, how could it be used to make someone feel better?

Having discussions like this with our children begins to develop in them the desire to help others, to take the lead in charity events and find ways of giving back. Teaching our children that doing this sort of work demonstrates that we see the value in everyone of our fellow humans, despite the circumstances they find themselves in at this time.

Charity Demonstrates: Compassion, Awareness & Respect

The Balanced Life Skills Way is “Compassion, Awareness & Respect”. Our focus this month is on the concept and action of Charity. How does Charity demonstrate each of these “Ways”?


Charity & Compassion – Charity is about giving to those in need without expecting anything in return.  When we see a situation that is difficult, compassion calls on us, tugs at our heart and looks for ways to help.  It may not always be another person.  We can have compassion for animals, situations, the environment or an emergency.  Our compassion may be based on fairness or justice or it may be a recognition of our inter – dependance that we have with each other when we feel the suffering of another.  Developing compassion is related to empathy and having an understanding of what another may be going through.

Charity & Awareness – Charity like many other parts of our life begins with Awareness.  If we are not aware of a difficult situation we will never be moved to act with compassion.  As an example we may not be aware of the hunger going on in the world, or of the cruelty to animals that might be taking place or the violence against women in certain cultures.  Until we are aware and especially if we are aware on a personal level – like we have seen it with our own eyes or held the children in an orphanage, it is difficult to be compassionate and charitable.

Charity & Respect – Charity is about respect for life and the environment.  Being able to get rid of our egos, to be able to treat others the way we would want to be treated and the way they would like to be treated.  Respect is not condescending nor does it allow for an attitude of superiority when we are giving.

Charity, our ability and actions of giving to those who are in need, begins at home with our own parents and siblings first, with an awareness of their needs, compassion for their feelings and respect for their rights.  It is the Balanced Life Skills Way.


Charity (giving) begins by learning to give at home

child_helping_The idea of giving to others who are in need is not about feeling sorry for them or feeling  good about ourselves.  When we see that another person has a need, it is just the right thing to do,  to find a way to help them fill that need or find a way to fill their own needs.  In my mind a need does not have to be just physical needs.

Physical needs are many times very obvious.  It may be a need for clothing, food or shelter.  It may be toiletries or school supplies.  There are times when those needs are not readily seen or they may be disguised.  A child may not come to school because of not having the supplies they need.  Most of the time the physical needs are far easier to see than other needs.

All humans have a need for significance, love and connection.  Even when we come from a great circumstance physically, we have these basic needs. One of the ways we can give this to another is with our talents and time.