One of the most important lessons we hope to instill in our kids is having a compassionate and generous heart for others. What better time than during the Christmas season to spread some joy and cheer?
Even though my kids are on the younger side, I’ve tried to lead by example over the past few years to show how we can help those in our community and beyond. As my older ones get to an age where they have more of an awareness of the impact of what we’re doing, they chime in with suggestions of what to donate or buy. As they get older still, my hope is that they can budget some of their money to make meaningful decisions for charities and organizations we can support.
If you’re more organized than me, you can do what a couple of my friends have done, which is to become kindness elves. A different take than the sneaky Elf on the Shelf concept, your “elves” think of ways to impact the community and neighborhood each day. You can start after Thanksgiving, or December 1st through Christmas, or the whole month of December. Whatever you have time and energy to do. If you’re an elf that’s not quite with it to do an activity every single day, you can spend some time shopping and then several days mailing or dropping off donations. The acts of kindness can be as simple as:
– Leaving candy canes in neighbors’ mailboxes with a cheery note
– Setting out granola bars and water bottles as a thank you to mail carriers, garbage men, or other delivery people who come to your door
– Doing a chore for your sibling or parent without being asked
– Sending a drawing or card to a friend
– Dropping off spare change at the Salvation Army bell ringer’s bin
– Shoveling snow or raking leaves for a neighbor
So what did we do this year?
The kids and I made cards for military veterans and their families staying at the Travis Mills Foundation Retreat in Maine. We also sent a care package and cards for deployed troops to Operation Care Package based out of Manhattan, IL.
The Orland Township Administration Center organized a Holiday Drive. You can donate new, unwrapped toys, warm weather gear like hats, gloves, and scarves, or food for the Orland Township food pantry. There is also a bin for Share Your Soles. We donated some hats and gloves to help others stay warm this season.
Our local representative, Margo McDermed, organized a diaper, wipes and diaper cream drive benefiting Journey Hub, a local organization in Mokena helping families with pregnancy and postpartum support, supplies, baby gear, and more. We dropped off 2 bags of supplies and were rewarded with coloring books about different Illinois facts like the state bird, song, and snack (popcorn!).
We collected items for the local Ronald McDonald House. I’ve volunteered twice to cook meals for families staying at the Oak Lawn RMDH and taken a tour of the facility, but each RMDH need varies. You can also collect metal pop can tops and donate them to your local RMDH.
Lastly, we donated food to the food pantry located out of the Tinley Park Methodist church. They distribute food to families in need every Wednesday, and this is an activity you can do year round with your kids. Besides the Orland Township food pantry, there is a food pantry associated with the Together We Cope thrift store in Tinley Park, as well as larger organizations like the Northern Illinois Food Bank and Feeding America.
I hope this post gives you ideas for your kindness elves for this year or a jump start planning for next season. Of course, giving can happen year round, and many organizations listed above can use your help. From my family to yours, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!