3 Simple Ways To Do Good This Holiday Season


Thanks to Salvation Army Chicago for sponsoring this post.

As a parent there are many important lessons to teach my children but one of my main priorities is making sure I raise caring, loving individuals. Though this is always my focus, there are so many additional chances to do this during the holiday season so I wanted to share three simple ways we like to do good around the holidays.

Donate goods.

Many count on thrift stores, like the Salvation Army, year-round but I feel that there is an extra need for gently used items in the winter. With cold weather coming, people will be looking for warm coats, hats and gloves, along with extra blankets for their home. Parents will also be looking for gently used toys to gift to their children. I remember when my boys were younger we didn’t have much money and most of their holiday gifts were from the thrift store. It was the only way I was able to provide gifts for my children those first couple years. While you are prepping your home for holiday guests and other festivities, why not go through and declutter to give your items new homes this holiday season.

Along with donating used items we no longer need, our family loves to shop for Christmas gifts for specific children from the Angel Tree. We typically choose two or three kids each holiday season and spend an afternoon picking out the perfect gifts for these children we’ve never met. When we shop for their Christmas wishes, and my kids see things like “pajamas” and “a football” at the top of their holiday wish lists, I think they see just how blessed they are and how important it is that we give to others from those blessings we now have.

Give kindness.

Sadly, kindness is not so commonplace anymore. Though I strive to be kind all the time, I try to go above and beyond during the holidays when everyone is extremely busy and stressed. Kindness doesn’t have to be a large or costly gesture, something as simple as a smile, kind word, adding some change into the Salvation Army bucket outside the grocery store, or even holding the door open for the person behind you could brighten someone’s day. If you want more ideas, I share 35 random acts of kindness your family can do this holiday season here.

Donate time.

I believe that time is the most valuable gift that we can give. Whether we are volunteering at a homeless shelter or helping out an elderly neighbor, our time is best spent when we are giving to others. The Salvation Army has a number of ways you can use your talents to help as a volunteer during the holiday season and beyond. Looking at some community centers here in the Chicago area I see a need for a Zumba instructor, food pantry worker, and youth recreation program planner among other things. If you are looking to volunteer with your family how about hosting a canned food drive or making easy, no-sew fleece blankets to donate? Finding something your family is passionate about and volunteering together will create lasting memories and encourage kindness in your kids.

Live in the Chicago area?

If you live in the Chicago area one great place you can support (with donations or by volunteering) this holiday season is the Salvation Army Chicago. Did you know that the Salvation Army is the largest direct provider of social services to people in need in the Greater Chicago area? Salvation Army Chicago serves communities in Chicago, Northern Illinois and Lake County, Indiana by providing emergency financial assistance, grocery assistance through food pantries; educational and recreational programs for children, adults and seniors; and leadership training and character development for youth.

How does your family “do good” during the holiday season? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below or on social media!

 

How To Create A Gift Basket For A Cancer Patient

Thanks to Environmental Litigation Group, P.C. for starting this kindness campaign and sponsoring this post.

As a blogger I get to participate in a ton of amazing campaigns but my favorites are ones that let me give back to my community. I was asked if I wanted to join a “spread kindness” initiative to create a gift basket for a cancer patient and I’m happy to be participating. Getting a cancer diagnosis is devastating so making them a gift basket is just a small gesture we can do to show that we care and want to help them get through this difficult time.

Before I created my gift basket I looked online at what items were best to include. At the store I bought cancer fighting foods along with some items to help with self-care and stress-relief and created my basket to give to a cancer patient.

Today I’m sharing what I included in my gift basket. I hope that it gives you ideas if you want to create your own gift basket for someone who has cancer or is going through chemo.

Blanket

The first item I put in the basket was a beautiful, warm blanket to keep the patient warm. Hospital blankets are so scratchy and this nice blanket can bring a bit of home into the hospital.

Fruits & Veggies

Fresh fruits and vegetables are some of the best cancer fighting foods you can give a cancer patient. I put together a bag of items including spinach, apples, oranges, tomatoes and carrots.

Healthy Meal Starters

I included an organic soup for a quick lunch option. Beans and quinoa are great starters for healthy dinners.

Snacks & Vitamins

Everyone needs snacks and I included some delicious ones that have health benefits as well, like dark chocolate, nuts and fruit strips. I also added Vitamin C gummies, a protein powder, and honey, a natural sweetener.

Stress Relief

Staying stress free is essential so I wanted to include some items to help the cancer patient relax. I put an adult coloring book and colored pencils in the basket along with some candles they could light and some stress relief tea to sip.

Self-Care

In the basket I included some things to pamper them like healing lotion, epson salt crystals for a bath, and Chapstick for dry lips. I added slippers with no-slip bottoms and a pretty head scarf as well.

Want more ideas of things to include in your gift basket? Get more ideas here.

The best part about putting the basket together was getting my kids involved. Kindness is one of the most important qualities that someone can possess and something I want my kids to learn at an early age. I want them to make it their purpose in life to do nice things for people and put smiles on the faces of others. Having lost their grandma to cancer a few years back, this campaign is really a special one for them to help with and I’m happy they could help me make and donate the basket.

Along with creating a gift basket you can bring a home cooked meal, offer to help watch children or pets, hire a cleaning service to help them around their house, pamper them by painting their nails or just lend a listening ear.

I hope you will join me in spreading kindness this year! Tag me on social media with a picture of your basket if you join in and bring a basket to someone. Also, if you have any other ideas of items to include in the gift basket please share in the comments below. Together we can bring a smile to the face of others :)

Send A Valentine To A Child In The Hospital

Today I wanted to share about an easy way you can send some love to a child in a hospital. It won’t cost you anything but a few minutes of your time!

This morning I saw a post on Facebook that Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago is hoping to collect 10,000 cards to give to patients in their hospital. You can send a free valentine by going to their website here. All you have to do is choose your card design and add a personalized note.

Join me in sending a card that will put a smile on the face of a child that has to spend Valentine’s Day in the hospital.

35 Random Acts Of Kindness Your Family Can Do This Holiday Season

The past few days we’ve all been focused on buying. From Christmas decor to Christmas gifts, there has been so much stuff that we “needed”. (Was I the only one who caved and bought the Instant Pot because everyone in their Facebook thread was raving about it?!)

Now that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are over we’ve come to Giving Tuesday. A day to give back, do something nice for others and give to our favorite charities. I wrote a post a couple weeks ago about five charities we support over the holidays and if you search #GivingTuesday on social media today I’m sure you will find dozens more you can donate to.

Giving money is great and I hope that you will all make a donation to a favorite charity, but I also wanted to share 35 ways that you can get your kids involved in doing random acts of kindness. Let’s all pick one to do today and brighten up someone’s day!

1) Leave a kind note in an unexpected place (like the fitting room of a store or a book in the library)

2) Hold the door open for someone

3) Buy a dozen flowers and pass them out to people

4) Rake a neighbor’s leaves

5) Leave something special in your mailbox for the person who delivers your mail

6) Bake someone cookies “just because”

7) Offer to help someone with their grocery bags

8) Send a note to a loved one telling them what you love about them

9) Buy the coffee/meal for the person behind you in the drive-thru

10) Have your kids make cards and then bring them to a nursing home

11) Smile at someone who seems overwhelmed and ask if they need help

12) Pay for someone else’s gas when you are at the gas station

13) Leave a couple dollars in the Redbox movie container when you return it

14) Send a gift card to someone anonymously via email (Even a $5 gift card can brighten a day!)

15) Leave a small gift on your neighbor’s porch and then ding dong ditch

16) Offer to babysit a friend’s kids- for free- so they can have a date night or go to the store solo

17) Bring some blankets, hats and gloves to a homeless shelter

18) Leave an extra large tip for the server when you go out to eat

19) Put change in the salvation army bucket

20) Offer to return a cart for someone after they load groceries into their car

21) Leave pennies on the ground (heads up!) for kids to find

22) Let someone in front of you when you are sitting in traffic

23) Shovel your neighbor’s driveway

24) Give up your seat for someone

25) Drop off food at a food pantry

26) Pay for someone else’s groceries

27) Give a genuine compliment to a stranger

28) Visit a nursing home

29) Pay the toll for the person behind you

30) Buy extra cat food or dog food and drop it off at an animal shelter

31) Say thank you to the folks you come into contact with as you are out and about

32) Volunteer your time

33) Gather items you don’t need any more and drop them off at Salvation Army or Goodwill

34) When you receive great customer service ask to speak to a manager and let them know

35) Let someone go in front of you in line

What ideas do you have? I’d love to hear about Random Acts Of Kindness that your family has done!

Discover A Better Fundraiser

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.

With 120 candy bars to sell for Jake’s football and baseball teams, and a few hundred dollars worth of popcorn to sell for scouts, I feel overwhelmed at the moment. Add to that the school fundraisers I know are coming and I think there is only so much that my neighbors and family are going to be willing to buy.

While I want to support our school and my children’s activities there has to be a better way to raise money right? Well, there is! What if fundraising for your school was as easy as helping people get rid of extra clutter? What if your community organization could get the money they needed without you having to sell hundreds of dollars worth of more “stuff”? I’m happy today to share about a creative fundraising solution that doesn’t involve any selling. (I can hear you all cheering!) We are also giving you the opportunity to win a $50 Amazon gift card.

Funds2Orgs was created by Wayne Elsey after he became fed up with selling calories and products that nobody needed to his family, friends and work colleagues. After a couple years of doing that he just wrote a check for a couple hundred dollars and gave the items away instead of selling them. He knew there had to be a better way but little did he know that he would get the opportunity to make it happen.

In 2004, he watched with the world as we saw the devastation of the Indian Ocean tsunami. At the time he was the president of a global footwear manufacturer. He says that when he watched a shoe wash ashore on television, the image stayed with him and he knew he had to do something. Within a few weeks, with a great group of people, they shipped hundreds of thousands of shoes to families who lost everything.

He did this again after Hurricane Katrina and the earthquake in Haiti. In all, he shipped over 17 million shoes to people in need. In the process, he learned a lot about developing nations where there are limited work opportunities, even when nature is quiet.

Eventually, he got an idea. He realized after having spoken to thousands of people as a philanthropist that schools, nonprofits, churches and groups needed another way to raise money. He also knew that micro-entrepreneurs in developing countries (small business owners) needed inventory to sell in their local communities. And, as a former footwear executive, he was aware of the fact that over 600 million shoes in the United States alone are thrown into landfills. This is bad for the environment and health.

So he created Funds2Orgs. Today, it’s the leading shoe drive fundraising social enterprise in North America. With a great team, he was able to develop a proven fundraising system. All the shoe drive partners have to do is collect gently worn, used and new shoes and then Funds2Orgs issues a check based on the total weight of the shoes collected.

This organization has earned an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau and worked with thousands who have good words to say about them because they are a company that’s committed to customer service. This has happened because they have a unique solution to fundraising, and are able to offer it with no out-of-pocket costs.

Working with Funds2Orgs is easy!

  • They have a team of fundraising coaches to work with you for the entire drive.
  • They give you the shoe collection material (including bags and rubber bands) along with the marketing and promotion material, which you can customize to your drive.
  • Once your shoe collection is complete, one of their driving team members picks up the shoes from your location.
  • Then they send you a Funds2Orgs check within 2 business days of the shoes being received at their warehouse.

When you do a shoe drive fundraiser with Funds2Orgs, you can literally help change the world. Along with raising thousands of dollars for your oganization with their easy, creative fundraising ideas, you are helping others. They consolidate and ship the shoes you collect to micro-entrepreneurs in developing nations where those people then sell them in their communities. You also help the environment because all of those shoes are staying out of landfills.

If you’d like to learn more about Funds2Orgs and what they can do for you please click here. There you can also find out how to enter to win our giveaway of a $50 gift card and some great books!

Ways To Help The Boys & Girls Clubs Of America This Season

(Disclosure: I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Boys and Girls Clubs of America. I received a promotional item as a thank-you for participating.)

The Holiday season is in full-swing! We are all busy with parties, decorating, gift buying and everything else that goes along with it but I think it’s also important to give back during this time as well. There are many good causes to support but I wanted to share about one specifically today.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of America serve nearly 4 million youth, but millions more need the life-changing programs and positive guidance Clubs provide. You can help create Great Futures for kids by making a gift to Boys & Girls Clubs of America this holiday season. The easiest ways to support BGCA is to volunteer, donate or shop at a store that donates proceeds to them.

Other fun things you can do on the Holiday website include:

Isn’t that fun!? I especially love the tips they offer for parents on helping kids get in the giving spirit.

 

 

On Giving {Quote}

Source: The Silver Pen

{Find more quotes and inspiration on her site!}

What Is “Giving Inexpensively”?

Today is my very first post over at Inexpensively. I hope you all will click over and read what my weekly column is going to be about and offer me a few suggestions on what you would like to see :)

Don’t forget to stop by tonight or tomorrow and check out where else I’m hanging out online today!  (Hint: I’ll be visiting with some wonderful ladies who after October will be some wonderful irl (in real life) friends…)