Flickr, Walmart Stores
It is possible to have fun as a family and do something good for your community at the same time! Some of the activities my family has done include:
~ Spending some time at the food bank or another similar charity. It can be eye-opening and sobering to see what goes into a box that’s given out at the food bank. With my daughter, she had made a trip to the food bank with her class and came home telling me how much it had moved her to see just how little people are expected to live on. She wanted to go back and help again. So, we took a trip to the grocery store and I let her help me pick out what we would take to donate to the food bank when we went to help. We talked about good nutritious choices, things that could be used in a variety of ways, and that would make the basis of some good meals. We also talked about what things we would miss if we were living off the contents of food bank boxes and picked out some “treats” to include as well. At Christmas time, we would do something similar with an angel tree. We’d go to one of the local angel trees and pick an angel to give a gift to. We always picked a girl named Jessica in honour of my niece who died at the age of 3 months. We made sure to fulfill the wish, if there was one, expressed on the angel tag but then we’d include extras – things that my daughter enjoyed at Christmas or that were part of our holiday traditions like a Kinder egg and a chocolate orange because she always got those in her stocking, a new pair of Christmas pjs just like my daughter would get to wear on Christmas Eve and so on. We also included some adult treats for the parent(s) in the home. It was always a fun and meaningful experience to share some of ourselves with someone else in this way.
~ Another holiday tradition was our Santa sack. On St. Nick Eve, I’d pull out a large red Santa sack and my daughter would go through her toys to pick out some that she was willing to part with. I told her that when her guardian elf (family tradition) came to pick up her letter to Santa that night, he would take the contents of the bag back to Santa’s workshop with him. Those toys would be fixed up and made like new again so that they could be given out as gifts to other children, especially as extra gifts to children who might not receive much for Christmas. As a thank you, Ernie (her guardian elf) would put some early gifts for her in the bag (these were usually things we could enjoy during the holiday season like a Christmas CD, books, socks, and so on.) An added bonus of this was not only did my daughter clear out some old toys to make room for the new ones but I was also able to get things for her from yard sales and second hand stores and she simply thought that they had come from some other child’s Santa sack!
~ My daughter had a love of animals and enjoyed helping those living in our backyard so we made a regular habit of feeding the birds. On Boxing Day, though, we would give them some extra special treats. We’d make them some homemade goodies (suet “cookies” or the old pinecone, peanut butter, birdseed deal for example) as ornaments for an outdoor tree along with some pieces of colourful yarn that they might be able to use in nest making. This kept us busy in that day after Christmas lull that sometimes hit, gave a gift to the birds, and made one of the trees in our yard just as festive as the one inside our house.
~ My daughter always liked baking but with it only being the two of us there were just so many baked goods we could eat. So we liked to make them as treats for others. We would make them as surprises for our neighbours, to take to the staff at the emergency room, fire or police station, or nursing home. Our local hospitals and nursing homes would also accept “tray favours” for the residents. Because of dietary restrictions it was too difficult for them to take edible goodies for the residents but we could make little crafts for them that would brighten up their dinner trays. We even made dog and cat cookies and treats to take to the local animal shelter and rescue organizations.
Doing some good for your community can be a fun family experience if you take your child’s interests and personality into account when choosing exactly which area you might want to help out in. It can also teach valuable lessons for your child – things that will form a foundation they’ll lean on when they get older.
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