As my kids get older, I find myself thinking more and more about ways to imprint kindness, generosity, and goodwill on to their hearts. When I sat down to come up with a list of simple ways to spread joy and goodwill in your community, I realized we’re doing a good job already. I truly believe the more ingrained the actions are in our daily lives, the deeper the values I wish to teach my children will be instilled. Simply put, more than talking to them about charity and good deeds, I think showing them on a regular basis through actions will encourage them to grow up to be people with strong character and integrity, who do the right thing simple because it is the right thing to do.
Here are some ways we spread joy and goodwill in our community all year-long:
One of my favorite ways to show my children the good in people is to take them on charity walks and fun runs. Not only is it great exercise for all of us, and a way we can spend positive time together on the weekends, but it also supports a great cause. The people who show up to these runs are amazing people and the energy from the group can be felt a mile away. I want my kids to see the hundreds of kind people who wake up early and gather with strangers to support a cause they care about. I want them to learn about those causes and care about them to.
This was our third year walking for Donate Life, in honor of our friend Kim and her family. In that time, we’ve become so close with them they feel like extended family, and I know my children really, truly understand why we’re out there and what we’re doing. There are people who need new organs in order to live, and the only way they will get them is if people donate their own when they don’t need them anymore.
If you haven’t already, please sign up to be an organ donor now.
One of the biggest things you can do to support your local community is to put money back into it. A simple way to do this is by shopping local and frequenting small business owners. Finding stores that also support great causes in your community doubles your efforts.
This year Big Brothers Big Sisters South Texas opened up a unique store, From Me To You, with a great concept. Children can shop with store elves to select presents for family members and wrap them on the spot. No more knowing what your kids got you for Christmas, great prices, and proceeds benefit Big Brothers, Big Sisters. We love it so much, we’ve shopped for the whole family there this year!
Goodwill and the Salvation Army are great examples of places your money can also do double duty. Can you think of any other places near you? Perhaps a thrift store supporting a women’s shelter, orphanage or ministry?
Get involved with your schools
Local support from the community is more important to public schools now more than ever. I urge you to find a way to help out that works for you whether that means donating your time helping in the lunch room or library, joining the PTA, providing financial assistance, or even donating school supplies, or helping out with after school programs. Teachers can’t do it alone and every lit bit helps.
Art Room Aid for Teachers is an incredible place to start looking, search your local community and see if teachers already have projects waiting to be funded.
There are so many ways you can lend a hand in your community. From volunteering at a local soup kitchen or food pantry, to visiting a nursing home, to being a mentor, to ringing the bell for the Salvation Army, to wrapping gifts for Elf Louise.
To find opportunities in your community, visit VolunteerMatch.org
There are 4,355 opportunities in my community — how many did you find in yours?
Do something out of the ordinary
Yes, most of these things are things we do everyday … but every now and then you have to shake things up a bit and remind yourself and your family why you do these things in the first place.
Last Saturday was the coldest day of the year. An abnormally cold day in Texas, I left my house while it was 29 degrees outside and headed to Sea World Aquatica to take the polar plunge for Special Olympics with my fellow Wildsiders.
It was amazing, incredible, invigorating, touching, and memorable. We raised more than $1,000 as a team and so much more as a whole. It bonded me for life with people I hardly knew, or had never met, and made me feel alive. It motivated the community and was seen on television several times during the weekend, meaning hopefully next year will be even bigger and better with lots more plungers willing to participate. It sparked a new tradition for me and one that my children are already excited to do with me … just in a few more years maybe!
If you’re in Texas, find a plunge near you.
If you are in a position to do so, give back. Whenever you can, anyway you can. Let your children see you doing this, let them do it too. Whether it’s putting spare change into a donation can or giving food, water, or cash to a person in need, to donating gently used items, or non-perishable can goods. There is something you can give to others.
This year, we gathered a group of local bloggers and adopted a few families in our community. We gathered together to shop for our families and give back to BBBST at the same time. We left with huge bags of presents, knowing we’d made a bigger impact as part of a group.