Saturday, February 8, 2014

Giving Back With Your Family

Only in America do children have a playroom full of toys, bedrooms full of stuff and even more toys/stuff scattered around the living room.  Obviously first world problems, however, its good to realize this and be grateful, but more importantly give back to those less fortunate.  Something I realized last Christmas is that most people give/donate around the holiday season.  But what about the rest of the year?  People are in need in March, August and etc.  More importantly, I want our children to growing up and appreciating what they have, understand needs vs. wants and also learn how to give back to others.  So "GIVE BACK" quickly became our motto for the 2013 calendar year.  I looked into various ways I could include Will (3) in family friendly charity work. (Obviously, Parker tagged along too for some of these.)

Meals for Families with newborns

Our church does an awesome job of reaching out to families with newborns.  Once they are settled in at home, people sign up and deliver 3 weeks worth of meals.  I remember receiving these generous (and delicious!) gifts after Parker was born.  This momma didn't have to cook for 7 weeks thanks to our church family and neighbors.  So we gladly sign-up and deliver!

Birds need some love too! 
Will and I talked about how the birds need help finding food for the winter, so we made bird feeders to hang around the yard.

Meals on Wheels Program
We participated in Meals on Wheels for 9 months this past year.  We met up at a local church every 3 weeks to package our meals and deliver them to the elderly off of New Hope Church Road.  Will really enjoyed packing up the meals in the kitchen and everyone always loved meeting him at the door.

SPCA Donations

Instead of birthday presents, Will's friends were asked to bring food, treats, toys and etc to his party in lieu of presents.  This worked out great!  Not only was he still able to celebrate his 3rd birthday with friends, but he was able to GIVE BACK at the same time.  About a week after the party, we rolled the wagon into our local SPCA shelter and he was able to see who/what he was helping.  We enjoyed touring the facility and meeting all of the furry friends waiting on their forever homes.

Goodwill Farm Volunteer
You have probably made numerous clothing donations to your local Goodwill center, but right here in RTP the Goodwill Foundation has a farm that helps provide fresh produce to those in need.  Our small group signed up to volunteer one Saturday morning. (They take volunteers 6 and older.)  We spent the morning picking blueberries and planting rice.

Thank Your Local Firefighters
This is a great family friendly way to GIVE BACK!  Together Will, P and a friend helped me bake cookies and then we packaged them up and delivered to the station right down the road.  We also love to squeeze in a visit with their new dalmatian puppy, Higsbee.

Pay It Forward
No explanation needed here. If you are dropping 3-4 dollars on one cup of fancy coffee, go ahead and buy the person's cup of joe behind you too!  This obviously happens a lot at our local drive thru Starbucks because they told me the record is 21 cars so far!  Can you imagine this good deeds taking place 21 times in a row!?

Jingle Bell Ball - Salvation Army Toy Drive

One of the local children's museums puts on a huge event each year to support the Salvation Army.  Your ticket into the event (and free food/beer/wine!) is a new $20-30 toy.  You would easily spend that on dinner, so why not GIVE BACK and enjoy the night with friends at the same time!

Host a Canned Food Drive

Our neighborhood HOA does a phenomenal job of hosting various family friendly events all throughout the year. One big event is the Breakfast with Santa in December.  We decided to add a Canned Food Drive to help support the NC Food Bank this year.  We purchased a variety of gift cards and organized a raffle.  For every canned food item, they received one ticket.  We had lots of eager participants (and several happy winners too!) and we were able to fill 4 huge tubs of food.

Local Hospitals
Being blessed with 2 HEALTHY boys make me very thankful.  So I typically pull out my knitting bag during the month of November and December and knit hats while curled up on the couch and drinking my hot tea.  I usually try to complete 10 and donate them to one of the local hospitals in the area.  This year, they were taken to the DUKE NICU.

Angel Tree
 Our Bunco group ditched the white elephant game this year and instead adopted a family with 4 kids.  This picture only shows about 3/4 of the stuff.  My group of girlfriends were very generous and hopefully this is something we continue to do each year from now on.

Pajama Pals
For Parker's birthday we partnered up with Pajama Pals.  We have a local organization here where they give new pajamas a new book to those in need.  Parker collected over 30 sets of PJs from his friends and family!

Stop Hunger Now
This was the only community service that we just wrote a check for.  Our church has a very strong Outreach Committee and they wanted to raise $5,000 to fund The Stop Hunger Now event.  As a small group, we decided that we would raise $1,000.  So basically each of the 8 families all donated a dollar a day for about 4 months.  On Feb. 1st we were able to attend the event and package actually $8,000 worth of meals for people around the world.

We plan to continue implementing some of the same charities/community service projects that we did and add to our list this calendar year.  Looking forward to GIVING BACK in 2014!

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