Back in the day, many of our parents used the image of orphans in other countries as a reason for us to eat what was on our plates. Where I grew up, the “starving children in Africa” were held up as the ones who would better appreciate my peas, while here in SoCal many kids heard about the orphans in Mexico. The big difference is that I lived pretty far away from Africa; Los Angeles kids can actually meet the less fortunate kids in Mexico, sometimes via charitable trips across the border to bring supplies, donations, and general good will.
Like anything well intentioned, this charitable family activity sometimes draws mixed reactions in the community; I've spoken to parents who are skeptical of how much good these trips actually do. I recently took my son on a day trip with the organization Corazon de Vida, and I found it to be a remarkable opportunity to introduce kids to the concept of helping others whose needs are greater than our own. My son saw boys his age leading a very different life from his, and by the time we left, some of the kids he'd been playing soccer with had the means to fulfill their dreams of joining a local soccer team.