Showing Love on Valentine’s Day

Showing Love on Valentine’s Day

I know some people who are a bit anti-Valentine’s Day. They lament the fact that it seems to be a holiday created and perpetuated by Hallmark. I understand where they are coming from, but, regardless of the way you feel about Valentine’s Day, you can’t deny that it is an opportunity to show love. And that’s what we are all about here at the Family Service Club. Last year, we had a fantastic time giving valentines to residents of assisted-living homes. This is an easy, inexpensive way to make someone’s day a little brighter.

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Want to do this with you family? 

  1. Call ahead: all the volunteer coordinators we worked with were so kind and helpful, and talking to them in advance is super important. Make sure to ask about parking.
  2. Prepare your kids in advance (and make sure they are healthy): read books to your kids (see below) and talk to them about things they may not be aware of (wheelchairs, confusion, etc.).
  3. Focus the conversation on the kids: The residents may not remember or want to talk about their own stories, but they seemed to love learning random details about the kids. (Ex. this is my son, and he turned four on Wednesday, etc.)
  4. Take time and give eye contact: I wish I would have followed this advice even more, but real connection comes from taking time and looking people in the eyes.
  5. 5. (Optional): Share your experience: post pictures of your visit on our Facebook page, or share a“success story” with us on the blog. The more we share our stories, the more others want to be involved.

We were lucky enough to have some valentines donated to us from various elementary classrooms last year, but we can always make these ourselves if that isn’t a possibility. There are numerous websites with cute ideas for cards, but nothing fancy is required. As you would expect, the senior citizens appreciated the effort more than anything.

Book

I always find it helpful to use stories to help my kids prepare for and understand various situations. This is one that I used before and after our visit last year.

Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox, illustrated by Julie Vivas: This cute book is about a boy who makes friends with the residents of a nursing home. It is an easy way to introduce this idea to younger kids.

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I am still figuring out how to help my son to have meaningful conversations when we visit assisted-living homes, but I know the effort is an important one. Kids may not be able to build homes for the homeless or advocate vocally for world peace, but they are cute, and cuteness is a big deal for this project…so allow their cuteness to bless others, and let’s get out there and work together to love people on purpose.

Feeding the Homeless

Feeding the Homeless

Although I wasn’t always good about this, since I’ve started my chapter of the Family Service Club, I’ve been really mindful about teaching my kids to notice homeless people in our area. It is so sweet how aware my son has become. In fact, yesterday, while rushing to get home, I didn’t say anything about the man on the corner. Paxton abruptly told me to turn around, imploring me to give him peanuts and socks. I realized that my son’s priorities were more in line than mine were. Of all of the service projects we have done this year, I’m not sure any of them have had as much of an impact as simply teaching my kids to notice the people in need around us. That is why I’m so excited about our next project.

On January 17th we will be providing and serving dinner to 100-120 homeless people in our area. To be honest, I’m pretty intimidated by this project. It is a big task to take on, but I know it is worth the effort. I know that my kids (and I) struggle with entitlement, and I also know that gratitude and service are the best remedies. Here are a few simple ideas on how to work as a family to serve the homeless. If you have other ideas, please let us know!

Four WAYS TO SERVE The homeless with your family

1. Donate to a local shelter: One of the easiest ways to help is to find out the needs of a local homeless shelter and donate. A simple google search will help you find a shelter near you, and if you give them a call, they can tell you what they need, be it blankets, food, etc. Getting your kids involved in shopping for items and dropping them off will be a fun way to make a difference together.

2. Create some “blessing bags” to keep in the car: A blogger who calls herself The Thrify NW Mom has published a blog post on how to assemble “Blessing Bags” for the homeless. She talks about putting together ziplock bags that include things like wipes, socks, and toiletries, etc. to pass out when you come across homeless people. This would be a great project to do with your kids and their friends. Do some shopping at Costco, The Dollar Store, etc. and put together some bags to keep in the car. What an easy and practical way to be prepared to give. Check out her blog post for more details.

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3. Serve food at a local homeless shelter: Although some shelters won’t allow young kids to serve food to the homeless, some will. We found a really wonderful organization called Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission. They serve hot meals to the homeless, and they are happy to let us bring our kids along to help. Call around to see if you can find an opportunity like this one.

4. Provide food for a local homeless shelter: If you are going to a shelter to serve, why not offer to provide the food as well? I used a website called SignupGenius.com to create a list so that people can sign up to bring food. We will be bringing lasagna, salad, rolls, cookies, soda, forks, knives, and napkins. You can see our list here. (Feel free to donate!) I will have people drop off the food at our house, or they can bring it directly to the shelter and serve it with us. We are really excited to help!

Talking about homelessness with young kids can be challenging, and using this book might make it a little easier.

Book

The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson and Garth Williams: This well-reviewed and award-winning book tells the story of a man named Armand, a homeless man who lives in Paris. While discussing his adventures and the fact that he lives under a bridge, it will be natural to talk to your kids about the fact that not everyone is blessed with a home.

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THANKS FOR READING

Like I said, I’m a little intimidated by the scale of our project this month, but I know that serving those who don’t have much is something I need to do, despite any reservations I may have.  Do you have any strategies for serving those around you? If so, please share! Also, if you are interested, click here to start a club of your own.  Thank you so much for reading, and let’s go love people on purpose.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Make December a Month of Giving

Make December a Month of Giving

While discussing the classic movie, The Christmas Story, I was reminded of how much children focus on getting the perfect gift during the Christmas season (and well before). I’m serious when I say that my son has been reminding me about a specific dinosaur toy on his Christmas list since August. It’s easy for all of us to become consumed with consumerism during this time of year.

And, fortunately, as I mentioned in my last article, Four Ways to Serve with your Family this Thanksgiving, while the holidays certainly highlight our selfish side, they paradoxically bring out our our most unselfish side as well. We focus on getting what we want for Christmas, but we also have a heightened desire to serve. This year, in an effort to focus on the latter, I put together a few simple ideas on how to work as a family to serve and bless others. If you have other ideas, please share them!

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FOUR WAYS TO SERVE THIS December

1. Donate to a Toy Drive: One of my favorite parts of Christmas is picking out toys for my kids. Why stop there? There are toy drives in every city that allow you to pick out toys for children who would not have many otherwise. Check out Operation Santa Search to find one near you. If you don’t have extra shopping time, some of these drives also accept monetary donations.

2. Make stockings for the homeless: My friend Travis, the youth minister at our Church, came up with this fantastic idea: he and the youth group are collecting personal hygiene projects along with socks, gloves, etc. to stuff into stockings for the homeless. They will be bringing these to a local shelter, but having these in the car to pass out in December would also be helpful. I’m going to make a trip to the dollar store with my kids soon to collect items for this great effort.

3. Pack a box to send to the troops: I can only imagine how hard it is for soldiers to be away from their families this time of year. A box of nonperishable items might be just the encouragement they need. You can see my article on serving our soldiers for ideas on how to work with your family to encourage our troops, or check out AnySolder.com for instructions on how to send a box to a specific solider this holiday season.

4. Sing Carols at a Senior Center:  I will never forget watching my son hand out valentines to residents of an assisted-living community on Valentine’s day. Contact a local Senior Center, and ask if you can come by with your kids to sing a few carols. Check out A Valentine’s Day to Remember for some tips on doing something like this with your kids.

5. Practice Random Acts of Kindness: I have grand ambitions of doing a random act of kindness with my kids each day until Christmas. Brainy bloggers provide several helpful lists like 25 Random Acts of Christmas Kindness from Kid’s Activities Blog. Realistically, I probably won’t do all of these but doing even a few will be meaningful for all of us.

 BOOK

The Berenstain Bears and the Joy of Giving by Jan and Mike Berenstain is a playful story about one Christmas Ever when Brother and Sister Bear learn about the joy of giving to others. Reading this book with your kids will be a great way to remind them about the importance of giving rather than getting at Christmas. 

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THANKS FOR READING

I admit it, I have already ordered the dinosaur that my son wants for Christmas. I’m thankful that I’m able to get him exactly what he wants (and thankful that it isn’t a BB gun). But this Christmas I’m also going to try to focus his attention (and mine) on giving rather than getting. I’m still trying to think of creative ways to serve this season, so if you have other ideas, please share! Also, if you are interested, click here to start a club of your own.  Thank you so much for reading, and let’s go love people on purpose.

Four Ways to Serve with your Family this Thanksgiving

Four Ways to Serve with your Family this Thanksgiving

Although my husband finds it cliche, I don’t consider Thanksgiving complete unless we go around the table sharing what we are grateful for. I love Thanksgiving. What a wonderful time to stuff our faces and share our hearts. Unfortunately, as we all know, not everyone has the pleasure of celebrating Thanksgiving with a full table.

The wonderful thing about gratitude, however, is that it naturally leads to a desire to give. When we focus on what we are thankful for, we feel inclined to give to others. I love the holidays: they bring out the philanthropic side in all of us. Despite the increased desire to give, we often find ourselves too busy or lacking ideas on how to do so. So, this Thanksgiving, I wanted to provide a few simple ideas on how to work as a family to serve and bless others. If you have other ideas, please share them!

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Four ways to serve this Thanksgiving

1. Donate to a Turkey Drive: when you head to the store to pick up a turkey, why not pick up a turkey for those who don’t have one? There are hundreds of local turkey drives, and a quick google search will help you find one near you. If you don’t have extra shopping time, most of these drives also accept monetary donations.

2. Donate (or organize) a local food collection effort: If you’d rather not donate a turkey, you can certainly donate other Thanksgiving food items. A group of moms in my area is getting together to organize a huge food donation week. They are reaching out to vendors, looking for families in need, and asking the community to help. I’m hoping to get our Family Service Club involved in assembling baskets. My church also asks members to sign up and bring food to donate to local families for Thanksgiving. If you don’t have something like this in your area, why not start one yourself?

3. Pack a Thanksgiving box to send to the troops: I can only imagine how hard it is for soldiers to be away from their families during Thanksgiving. A box of nonperishable items might be just the encouragement they need. You can see my article on serving our soldiers for ideas on how to work with your family to encourage our troops, or check out AnySolder.com for instructions on how to send a box to a specific solider this holiday season.

4. Write cards of Gratitude:  Even if your kids are too young to write, making cards of gratitude is a wonderful way to serve. You can help your kids decorate cards for their grandparents, friends, or other family members, or you can make Happy Thanksgiving cards and deliver them to your local senior center. This is so simple, but it can have a meaningful impact.

 Book

Thanksgiving is61zN7pBxH7L._AA160_ for Giving Thanks, by Margret Sutherland: Encouraging our kids to be grateful is a big deal. The more we can help them cultivate grateful hearts, the more empathetic and resilient they will be. Before I serve with my family this season, I want to focus on what we are thankful for. This book is a great way to start that discussion.

 

Video

Daniel Tiger, Episode 14: I really enjoyed watching this with my kids recently. It was awesome to hear my 4 year old singing, “Thank you, for everything you do” to me after I made dinner. After watching this, you may want to start a similar tradition at your home.

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Although my kids have their share of struggles, when I see them showing gratitude and love, it makes the tough times easier. This November, I hope to help them focus on both of those things. I’m still trying to think of creative ways to serve this season, so if you have other ideas, please share! Also, if you are interested, click here to start a club of your own.  You can also follow us on Instagram for ideas on sharing kindness. Thank you so much for reading, and let’s go love people on purpose.

The Happiest Halloween

The Happiest Halloween

A few weeks ago, my friend Amanda posted on Facebook asking friends to donate Halloween costumes for a good cause. I scrolled past the message, not thinking much about it. A few days later, as I had been ruminating on what to do for our October Service Project, I thought back to her post and decided to ask for more information. I’m so glad I did. Amanda works with a fantastic organization called Childhelp. Childhelp is dedicated to 24-hours-a-day treatment of abused, neglected, and at-risk children. The Childhelp Merv Griffin Village in California houses as many as 84 children, and they provide many services for them, including a chance to celebrate Halloween.

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Every year, a seamstress volunteers her time to turn used Halloween costumes into costumes the kids can use and enjoy for a Halloween event. Amanda’s post asked friends to donate used or new costumes as well as fabric to make costumes. I was inspired by the idea, and I decided the Family Service Club could help! We are in the process of collecting costumes from their wish-list, and, to me, this is far more exciting than trick-or-treating.

Want to do something like this in your area?

1. Find an Organization:  There are many places that could use some donated halloween costumes, the first step is to find one. I found this article that might give you some good ideas as you start looking.

2. Get the kids involved: Ask them to help you clean out your closets to look for used costumes. You can also go to goodwill or a Halloween store to buy things to donate. This is a great way to make Halloween about more than just collecting sugar.

3. Get your friends involved: Even if you don’t have much to donate, your friends might. I have found that people are really excited to get involved in this project, so post about it on social media, or just call friends and family and get more people excited about making someone else’s Halloween a good one.

4. Share your Story (Optional): If you get a chance to do this project, share your experience. You might inspire someone else to do the project as well.

A Helpful Book

We are donating our Halloween costumes for kids who have been abused. If my son was a little older, I would use this opportunity to talk to my son a little bit about abuse and how to prevent it. Since this is such a sensitive (and scary) topic. I might use a book like this to help us work through it.

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It’s MY Body: A Book to Teach Young Children How to Resist Uncomfortable Touch (Children’s safety series & abuse prevention) by Lory Freeman: in this book “children learn safe boundaries, how to distinguish between “good” and “bad” touches, and how to respond appropriately to unwanted touches.” It looks like a powerful tool to help parents discuss this topic with their children. 

Video

This video is a good reminder for all of us about the importance of reporting child abuse. It is probably more appropriate for adults and older children.

It is really hard for me to think about the things that some children are dealing with on a daily basis. I also have a hard time knowing how to help with young kids of my own at home. I can’t wait to send a big package of costumes to Childhelp in a few weeks, and I hope this will be the beginning of many more projects like this in the future. Do you know of any helpful organizations serving kids in need? Do you have strategies that help your kids to be empathetic towards other kids who are struggling? If so, please let us know. Also, if you are interested, click here to start a club of your own.  You can also follow us on Instagram for ideas on sharing kindness. Thank you so much for reading, and let’s go love people on purpose.

 

Coastal Cleanup

Coastal Cleanup

A few months ago, my son and I were walking home from the park. Although this path is normally pretty clean, we noticed several pieces of trash littering the sidewalks. It was that day that I came up with the game “Trash Patrol.” This game is pretty simple: it consists of singing a cheesy Trash Patrol song, giving each other silly names, and proceeding to rid the world of trash (i.e. grabbing and holding on to sidewalk trash until we reach the nearest trashcan).

I love doing things like this because it such an easy, tangible way for my son to help out. For our September project, we will be bringing the Trash Patrol to the beach for the 2015 Coastal Cleanup.

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want to do something like this in your area?

If you are in California, this project is easy!

1. Check out the website: here you can find links that will direct you to the cleanup nearest to you.

2. Save the date: In California, the cleanup takes place on the third Saturday in September, but check out this link to find cleanups year-round.

3. Make your move: sign the waiver, take your kids, some sunblock, some gloves, and get out there.

4. Share your Story (Optional): If you get a chance to do this project with your family, share your experience. You might inspire someone else to do the project too.

If you don’t live in California, you can certainly still serve in nature with your family. Check out this post for specific ideas on taking care of the environment.

Book

Going to the beach is a fun activity, but if you want to get your kids even more excited, check out this Kindle book:

Children’s Book About Beaches: A Kids Picture Book About Beaches With Photos and Fun Facts: This book by Madison Matthews is an easy read, and it contains fun facts about the beach. 

Video

This video, released in 2013, is a great reminder of why we are doing this. You may want to show this to your kids (or view it yourself) before heading to the beach.

I hope these ideas and resources have been helpful. Do you have any ideas about how to help our kids take care of the environment? Please let us know! Also, if you are interested, click here to start a club of your own.  Thank you so much for reading, and let’s go love people on purpose.

 

Support Local Heroes

Support Local Heroes

One of the coolest parts of being a part of Family Service Club is connecting with other people who are serving others all over the world. For example, Megan Livingston just started a new chapter of Family Service Club in Pennsylvania.  Another service group doing great things was started by my friend, Robin Roach. She runs a Facebook group similar to ours called The Kindness Club in Arizona. Robin’s group did a project earlier this year that we are going to adopt for our August Project. This project focuses on supporting and serving local public servants, local heroes. We are going to visit and bring cards and snacks to people we look up to in our community. We are following some easy steps to get this project going, and we hope you will to!

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Want to do this in your area?

1. Ask your kids to focus on a person or group of people:  Talk to your kids about the different people who make your community a better place. Remind them about police officers, firemen, librarians, linemen, teachers, doctors, post office workers, etc. Ask them which group of people they would like to encourage.

2. Contact the people you want to support: This step is super important. After you and your kids have decided who to support, get in touch with a point of contact so you can make a plan. Ask that person when you can visit and what types of snacks would be most appreciated.

3. Prepare to serve: Put the date on you calendar, and start getting your kids excited. Write cards expressing gratitude, bake or buy the treats requested, and read books or watch videos about the people you are serving (see below).

4. Go love people: Make your trip to the station, library, school, etc. and do your best to connect and thank the people you are there to visit. The most important part of service (in my opinion) is loving people, so give your family time to talk and listen.

5. Share your Story (Optional): If you get a chance to do this project with your family, share your experience. You might inspire someone else to do this project too.

RESOURCES

I love using books and videos to help my kids get excited about serving. Here are a few resources that might be helpful in preparing kids for this project. If you know of any others, please share them!

Books

1. A Day in the Life of a Police Officer by Linda Hayward: This book is written for new readers, and it is a great way to show kids about all the things Police Officers do each day. We are going to be visiting a police station, so this book is a great one for my son. This series also includes A Day in the Life of a Firefighter and A Day in the Life of a Builder.

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2. The People in your Neighborhood by Naomi Kleinberg: If you have younger kids, this Sesame Street book would be a good way to start talking about local heroes you might choose to serve.

Video/App

Community Helpers Play and Learn: This video walks you through an app that focus on different community helpers and what they do for the community. Watching this video or downloading this app would be a good way to raise awareness of all the people who work together in your community.

When I talked to my son about this service project, his response was “hooray”! I can’t wait to get started on planning, and I hope all of you and your kids are excited too. Let’s all work together to make people feel acknowledged, loved, and supported. If you have any thoughts on this post, or if you have other ideas about how we can show love, please let us know. Also, if you are interested, click here to start a club of your own.  Thank you so much for reading, and let’s go love people on purpose.

 

Serving Children in Africa

Serving Children in Africa

Years ago, I was able to visit Kenya to serve African students for a week. Teaching pronouns to an attentive group, I developed a love for African children. The kids I met were joyful, kind, and funny. Since I’ve been a part of the Family Service Club, I’ve been trying to think of ways to help my kids gain awareness and compassion for children in 3rd world countries, and when a club member suggested this option, I jumped at the chance. This month we are supporting an awesome organization called Sole Hope that helps children in Africa by providing them with closed-toed shoes to protect their feet as well as teaching them to make shoes themselves. There are many ways for children and adults of all ages to get involved.

Want to do something like this in your area?

1. Go to Sole Hope’s Websitethey will get you started so you can host a shoe party.

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2. Invite friends over: ask them to bring any kids who are old enough to cut as well as some blue jeans. Sole Hope will provide you with a shoe-cutting kit that explains how to trace and cut your jeans so they can be made into shoes. Get to work! When you finish, send your cut-outs as well as $10 for each pair of shoes for shipping and assembly. Sole Hope will finish the process, and these shoes will help kids in Uganda from getting jiggers on their feet. If your friends can’t come, you can also mail or give them the pattern to cut out jeans at home.

3. Getting the littles involved: If you or your friends have younger kids, there are other ways they can get involved. My kids and I are going to have a lemonade stand to raise money to donate for shipping and assembly of shoes. We are also going to bake cookies for the volunteers meeting at the shoe party. My kids can’t cut well yet, but they can still help out!

4. Other options: If you are short on time or blue jeans, you can also donate to the organization itself. They accept money, as well as Foot Washing and Jigger Removal supplies and other items. Here is their wish list:

  • Stickers for the children
  • Large Safety Pins
  • Surgical Gloves
  • Cotton Balls
  • Medical Tape
  • Antibiotic Cream
  • Gauze
  • Band Aids

5. Share your Story: If you have a chance to work with your family to bless kids across the world, share your experience. You just might inspire someone else to get involved too.

Books

One thing I love about doing these projects is the opportunity to help my kids grow in awareness of the world. While I hope to travel on service trips with them eventually, right now, books are a great way to help them learn more about the world. Here are two books that I recommend:

1. A is for Africa by Ifeoma Onyefulu. This book is a beautiful way to help kids learn more about Africa and the people there.

2. We All Went on Safari by Laurie Krebs. This rhyming story is a fun way to talk about African names, animals, and climates.

Video

This is video shows a glimpse of what Sole Hope is doing in Africa and how the children respond. This is a great one to watch if you are thinking about hosting a shoe party.

To be honest, it is hard for me to think about the things that children in 3rd world countries are dealing with on a daily basis. I also have a hard time knowing how to help with young kids of my own at home. I can’t wait to participate in our upcoming party in a couple weeks, and I hope this will be the beginning of many more projects like this in the future. Do you know of any helpful organizations serving kids in impoverished countries? Do you have strategies that help your kids to be empathetic to situations and people far away? If so, please let us know. Also, if you are interested, click here to start a club of your own.  You can also follow us on Instagram for daily ideas on sharing kindness. Thank you so much for reading, and let’s go love people on purpose.

 

Serving the Soldiers

Serving the Soldiers

Aiming his finger at me like a gun, my 4-year old pretends to shoot me from the backseat of my car. I honestly have no idea where he learned this. As many young boys, my son is fascinated by war, death, and weapons. I’ve been trying to figure out how to address this issue, and as we prepare to serve the soldiers for our next service project, I’ve been thinking about how I can help him to learn about soldiers, about men and women who fight not out of anger, but to protect and to serve. I think allowing him to meet some men and women in uniform will be really helpful as we continue the conversation. Below are some steps we are taking as we plan this project; I hope they inspire you to serve the soldiers too.

Want to Serve Soldiers in your area?

1. Contact a local base: we live close to Port Hueneme, and we are in the process of finding a point of contact there. After we do this, we will plan a date for our visit, and we will ask about what we can bring that will be most encouraging to the soldiers (cards, cookies, etc.)

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2. Make a visit: after talking to our kids extensively, we will visit the base. During our visit, we will try to connect with and encourage as many people as possible. Building relationships is the most important part of service.

3. Send a care package: we are hoping to drop off our packages at the base, but there are several organizations out there that enable civilians to send packages to soldiers overseas. If you can’t make it to a base, invite some friends over for a packing party, and send some goodies abroad. Check out Any Soldier, Give2TheTroops, or Operation Gratitude to get started. These awesome groups have sent countless packages, and their websites are super helpful.

4. Adopt a Soldier: If you get in touch with AdoptaPlatoon, you can adopt a soldier. What an awesome thing to do as a family! When you adopt a soldier, you are committing to encourage an individual service member by sending one card or letter each week as well as one care package each month.

Books

As I mentioned, it is challenging to discuss fighting and war with kids. As usual, I look to books to help me broach difficult topics. Here are a few that I’ve found informative.

Hero Dad: In this book, a boy compares his Dad, a soldier, to a superhero. Reading this book would be a good way to start talking with younger kids about soldiers.

Veterans: Heroes in our Neighborhood: According to Amazon: this book  “is an engaging rhyming picture book for readers of all ages that fosters mindfulness of and appreciation for the brave service men and women who are also our family, friends, and neighbors.  These are the men and women who bravely served our great country and now humbly serve in our communities.” Sounds great!

Video

US Troops Coming Home: This is an uplifting, poignant video that shows soldiers returning home to their families. I’m planning to show this one to my son before we visit the navy base.

There are men and women all over the world making sacrifices to serve and protect. Let’s all work together to make soldiers feel acknowledged, loved, and supported. If you have any thoughts on this post, or if you have other ideas about how we can show love, please let us know. Also, if you are interested, click here to start a club of your own.  Thank you so much for reading, and let’s go love people on purpose.

The Service Project is Over: What Now?

The Service Project is Over: What Now?

Last weekend, four Family Service Club coordinators dropped off Easter baskets for families dealing with pediatric cancer. (You can read about this exciting project in this article on Showing Love to those Suffering from Illness). I was out of town when our coordinators dropped off the baskets, but my eyes were glued to my phone as I teared up looking at pictures of baskets, hugs, and smiles. We can’t cure cancer, but we brought joy to a few families, and that is awesome.

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Not long after the delivery, I was on the phone with my friend, Katie. As she should have been, Katie was concerned about following up after dropping off the baskets. She and her daughter met Dylan, an amazing 2-year-old boy suffering from brain and eye cancer. Compassionate by nature, Katie is now committed to spending time with Dylan and his mom, and she wants to continue to help them meet their needs. In fact, she is so passionate about this that she is working to help raise money for them to buy a car. During our conversation, I started thinking about the importance of following up when it comes to relationships, life, and service. The truth is, it is difficult to make a lasting impact without creating lasting relationships. I really want to work on this myself, so I’m going to share a few ideas on how to follow-up after service projects, and I would love to hear yours as well.

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Tips to help build relationships after service projects

1. Devote time to talking with individuals: when you are in the middle of a service project, make a concerted effort to talk to people and listen to their stories. This is, of course, the first step in building a relationship. Follow-up is easier when you begin to care for people.

2. Learn, remember, and write down names: Did you bring brownies to firefighters? Write down the name of the fireman who gave you a tour and enjoyed your brownies. Did you bring valentines to residents from an assisted-living home? Write down the names of a few residents that you connected with.

3. Return to the place where you served: One of the members of our club had a great experience delivering valentines, and she is now visiting the same assisted-living home regularly with her family. I was thrilled to hear about this. We can really serve people by getting to know them, remembering their names, and seeing them as often as possible. If you and your family really enjoy doing a specific type of service project, do it as often as you can! We can make an impact through creating relationships.

4. Help people meet their needs: When we get to know people suffering from illness or struggling with poverty, their specific needs often become clear. You may not be able to meet all of their needs, but you can think creatively about how you can help. You can organize a donation drive for kids in foster care; you can start a gofundme fundraiser to help a family buy a car; you can bring socks to a homeless person. Whenever we help anyone meet his/her needs, we get closer to that person.

Reflections

I created the Family Service Club in part to introduce my kids to different types of service, to expose them to different people, and to help all of us think creatively about service, but in this process, I don’t want to neglect to take the next steps. Time permitting, I want to reconnect with people we have met in order to build and grow relationships. Like I said, I’m still thinking about how to do this well, so please let me know if you have ideas. Let’s work together to make people feel acknowledged, loved, and supported. Also, if you are interested, click here to start a club of your own. You can also follow us on Instagram for daily ideas on sharing kindness. Thank you so much for reading, and let’s go love people on purpose.