As parents, we would all like to know that we are raising our children to appreciate the importance of giving, sharing, and volunteering. For me, I often assume that my values are being imprinted on my kids naturally. When I stop to think about it, I wonder if my three years old really gets it when I say, “put this change in the red bucket. There are people that need it more than us”, or “you should be very thankful for what you have, other kids are not so fortunate.” In reality, the answer is probably no; they don’t get it. We are laying the foundation for a better understanding as they get older, but I am assuming these little talking points go right over their heads.
This holiday season, I am determined for my little ones to actually “get their hands dirty” and actively do something kind for others. For my 16-month-old, this will mostly be symbolic–a picture for his baby book (which I really should start one of these days) and a sign of family solidarity for his big sister. Hopefully, the beneficiary of our family’s activities will appreciate our little guy’s contribution, too. I hope that you and your little ones can find something here that resonates with your family. I would love to hear any feedback or see pictures if your family finds inspiration here.
Send drawings, letters, or cards to service men & women:
If your house is anything like ours, you probably pump out about 10+ adorable drawings and projects a day, most of which go into the recycle bin after about three days of obligatory display on the refrigerator. Why not take a moment to include a note on them from your family and drop it in the mail? For the cost of a stamp and an envelope, this is one of the quickest and cheapest ways to bring a smile to a stranger’s face. This is something that can easily be incorporated into our everyday lives. Letters sent now will not likely make it to soldiers overseas by Christmas. However, any correspondence throughout the year is greatly appreciated.
There are many ways to do this, and you will find dozens of websites dedicated to this simple act. Below are a few that I found. We will be trying them out, and I will report back on our experience.
Here you can get a direct mailing address for a service member.
See their notes on “just letters?” on how and what you can send.
Letters can be dropped off or mailed to the listed address and will be forwarded.
This site lists many other organizations that facilitate the giving of letters & packages to soldiers, now that the option to send to “Any Service Member” through the USPS is not available.
Specific info on sending cards from kids to Marines.
Donate new & gently used items, your time, or gifts to local shelters and charitable organizations:
A Safe Place is a domestic violence shelter serving families in Lake County. They provide support for families, as well as temporary residential facilities. Donations of hard & soft goods, monetary donations, and holiday gifts are requested.
PADS homeless shelter has many opportunities for volunteering year-round, including preparing and serving meals. Kids can help to prepare a meal, and go with you to deliver it.
One Hope United has been serving children in our area for many years. On Friday, December 7th, support the organization at their Gingerbread House of Hope Event at Milburn Elementary School. Or, see their website for other volunteer opportunities.
There are more than a hundred pet rescues, foster groups, or shelters in the Lake county area. Of course, pets need to be adopted, but there are other ways you can help animals in need. It’s not just dogs and cats, either. Did you know that you can adopt a fish or bird? Visit a local shelter to walk and socialize dogs with older kids, collect old blankets and towels for bedding, or consider fostering a pet while it waits to find it forever home. Visit petfinder.com to find an organization nearest you, serving your favorite kind of pet.
Happy volunteering everyone!
By: Holly G.
Holly keeps busy with freelance writing, as well as many volunteer ventures including PTO, dog rescue, and Lakes Region Historical Society. She is quick to pitch in for a good cause. She is an aspiring vegan, Jazzercise addict, runner, coffee junkie, and enjoys cooking.