MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — During the holiday gift-giving season, it is sometimes the smallest of gifts that have the biggest impact.

On Monday morning, a group of preschoolers in Minneapolis broke from their daily routine to stuff gift bags and make cards for people who are spending the holidays in the hospital.

They got a lesson on how giving can be better than receiving.

WCCO sat in on story time for the 4-year-olds at Northside Child Development Center on Plymouth Avenue. The theme was holiday traditions and the importance of spreading joy.

Volunteers from a nonprofit called Free Arts Minnesota visited and led the kids in an art project.

“The kids automatically said, ‘It makes people feel happy. It makes people feel special,'” said Chelsea Unold, of Free Arts Minnesota. “Just hearing them say that…they understand that what they are doing for someone else is impacting them in a positive way.”

The kids filled small gift bags with art supplies and toys for children who are patients at Shriners Hospital. The kids also decorated cards for adults who are hospitalized at University of Minnesota Fairview.

“The cards themselves say ‘Thinking of you,'” Unold said. “I saw some Ninja Turtles. I saw some snowmen. I saw some pictures of the kids themselves. I saw some kids practicing their writing.”

Northside Child Development Center is run by Catholic Charities and serves kids from infancy to age 13.

“I think if you ask the parents, they feel lucky to have us here,” said Damont Jones of Northside Child Development Center. “And so it is kind of a give-and-take, we just want to teach our children the value and the lessons of giving back.”

He added that learning to empathize is important for children in their early preschool years.

Free Arts Minnesota works with schools and social service agencies throughout the Twin Cities. They have 170 mentors that go out each week, leading kids and adults in art projects.

They need more volunteers. If you’d like to help, click here.

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