On Service

April 5, 2010

I truly hope that all of you had a wonderful weekend, and for those who celebrate, a blessed Easter Sunday.

I am quietly sitting beside a very sick little six year old who, as was made very clear to us through the last few hours, is apparently really allergic to eggs. The poor thing ate a few too many today, and the pain in his stomach is so extreme, as is the vomiting. Again, the things food allergies can do to all of us is astounding.


The time of reflection over these past few days, as well as the time that I have right now to sit with my own thoughts, has left me with a strong question; I am wondering how all of you view the idea of service with our children?

I know, a little heavy to start out a Monday with, but something over the past few days has really gotten me thinking. I have struggled lately with the idea of my children not really understanding themselves much outside of their own family unit, and close circle of friends. Growing up living just outside of major cities, I witnessed some of the hardships that many go through, and from those moments, much conversation came about with my parents and friends.

For my children, we now live in a small town, more away from city living then I have ever been before, and somewhat sheltered from the realities of life that are so common for so many. While I do not believe that young children need to be over exposed to the tragedies that life can offer, I also believe that it is important for children to see themselves, even at a very young age, as being useful and helpful to their community at large.

I think that where I struggle is where to start, and I am curious what feelings you all have on this subject. Up until this point, we have held onto the idea that our children would learn through witnessing and watching what we, as well as other family and friends, were doing in our communities, but now I feel as though it is time for them to participate.

Life is so hard, and at any moment it can change forever. With communities becoming so disconnected, and families living so far apart, it seems essential that our children learn how to build communities of their own.

This community of ours that we share through the blogging world is so full of amazing information, that I would love to hear how your families are working to build an understanding of service, of community, and of giving in your children.

Wishing you all a wonderful beginning to your week

{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

Caroline April 5, 2010 at 11:09 am

This is my first posting! I read about your son's struggles with food and was deeply moved by your experience and insight.

As far as this topic goes, it sounds like your mummy intuition feels that your son's are ready for some outside community bonding. That sounds wonderful. I am not sure how or what as my daughter is only 18 months old and interacts quite well with the community on our walks in the main street! She is a very social girl. We moved from a town of 10,000 to a suburb in a large metropolis of 4 million. I stay within the confines of our new suburb however and am not moved to venture into the bustle. The mall is quite busy where we are and I try to limit her time there (and mine as it produces an instant headache and ear overload!!)

I don't know how old your sons are but I feel that children are very happy with their small community of close family and regular friends and other close relatives. As far as them venturing into the wider community, I guess you could try a few things and see if they enjoy it. Maybe they could work on a project when it is a festival time to give the particular item as an offering for someone particular or a family. Or they could work on a project to grow a certain vegetable which they harvest and then offer to your neighbours or towns-folk? Something small that helps then understand that their efforts are meaningful beyond what they are currently exposed to.

I look forward to seeing what you come up with.

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Stephanie April 5, 2010 at 11:26 am

Hi Heather, I'm curious to hear what you and others come up with on this subject, my guy is just two so we haven't gotten into the community too much yet. So sorry to hear your youngest was so sick yesterday. My little one woke with a cold yesterday which wasn't too fun, but sounds like nothing compared to what your little one went through, hope he's feeling much better today.

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jessica April 5, 2010 at 11:37 am

This is a topic that is so very near and dear to my life. I grew up in a family that had a very strong emphasis on service towards others. From a young age it was made very clear to us that everything we had we were lucky to enjoy and we should celebrate that rather than ask for more. One small way we were encouraged to serve others was to divide up our allowance money into three jars (one to save, one to spend, and one to give). This started at around 6 or 7. We could choose where the money would go (local soup kitchen, a child our church was supporting in Africa, to buy mittens/hats in the winter for those in need). We also often cleaned our our clothes/toys and helped my parents as they took them to shelters to be donated. It's a sensitive line on what to expose small children to, but I think that me being exposed to others' hardships helped me develop a strong sense of service and respect for those going through more challenging times (and made me really grateful for whatever I had). As I grew older, volunteerism was a requirement, though we happily obliged. If we were working or playing a sport we worked to fit in raking leaves for a local shut in or collecting canned goods. One of my (many) reasons for wanting to homeschool my (future) children is so that we would be able to incorporate service for others into our days/weeks. I think this is a little bit long winded! See I am passionate about service :) I hope your little one is feeling better!

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Kelly April 5, 2010 at 12:17 pm

I struggle with wanting to expose them to volunteer and helpful things and wanting to protect them from seeing suffering and hardships in the world. And since they are still quite young I've just not done anything. I'm interested to hear more on this from you though.

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Nancy April 5, 2010 at 12:18 pm

This might not be an option for you, but something near and dear to my heart is "family bagging night" at our local food pantry.
Here was our experience with it (easier than summarizing in a short comment):
http://learningasigo.typepad.com/learning_as_i_go

The kids do almost all the work, and it's popular because toddlers can participate.

We bring a food donation when we go. Since my daughter was 4, we have talked about how some people don't have enough food and that it's important for those who do have food to give what they can. We do this in additon to monetary donations (pantries get discounts, so our dollar stretches further for them that way).

Even more helpful for teaching kids, they encourage locals to 'grow a row" of fresh veggies that get donated to the pantry. This is something I hope to do with the kids this year.

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Nancy April 5, 2010 at 12:20 pm

This might not be an option for you, but something near and dearl to my heart is "family bagging night" at our local food pantry.

http://learningasigo.typepad.com/learning_as_i_go

They've cleverly set it up so even toddlers can participate.

We bring a food donation when we go (but we also give money because pantries get discounts when they buy food, so our dollar stretches further for them that way).

Another great thing they encourage is "growing a row" of veggies that can be donated to the pantry or a local shelter. This is something I would love to do with the kids this year.

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lorena April 5, 2010 at 12:41 pm

volunteering is a very big part of our family. it is something that both my husband and i do not only within our church but also in our community. our boys have always been a part of our activities…even if they could do nothing besides get in the way! :-) i don't think exposing kids to the hardships of the world and our community is a bad thing. just as we are aware of what goes on and are moved to help – i believe that children can be moved to help also. allow me to share a link to a post i wrote last year about that very topic http://throughtheeyesofayak.blogspot.com/2009/11/… your boys are still young so don't be discouraged if it takes awhile for them to get it – but they will. as for what to do – start small. involve them in everything you do – and just talk about what you are doing – donating toys or clothes, feeding the poor, visiting the elderly……whatever you choose to do make sure its a passion of yours and not something you are doing just b/c you want to expose your child to a certain organization. if it is something you truly enjoy doing then your enthusiasm will show – and that is what will make the difference to your children.

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recycled+revamped April 5, 2010 at 1:23 pm

So sorry to hear about the egg incident!
What an interesting thought process…

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AG Ambroult April 5, 2010 at 1:25 pm

Our public schools offer many opportunities to give back to the community, and they are always looking for volunteers. I imagine they'd welcome help from families of children not attending those schools, as well.
On the simplest level, the girls and I periodically go through their bedrooms and toy boxes and pull out items to give to charity. While we're doing it, we talk about how there is a child out there who would love to have the item, or who lacks extra clothing etc… Most recently, we did this and talked about the earthquake victims in Haiti and Chile.

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Sarah Jane April 5, 2010 at 2:04 pm

Heather, we started sponsoring a boy from Togo's education through Plan. I read about the organization in a great article in the NYT this past fall. I also try to have real, honest conversations when we see people asking for money or when he sees a sign "no sleeping" in the library bathroom. I hope to do more and more as they get older. I look forward to reading more comments.

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Valarie April 5, 2010 at 2:40 pm

This is a perfect way to start a Monday and so happy you opened this dialog. As a family our life perspective is that we were put on this planet to live in and be of service. I started my children "giving" to others in the form of sharing their music with the elderly. We started with sing alongs and kept going from there. Another thing we did was give away fruits and vegetables from our gardens or canned goods. We met a lot of great people that way. Right now Mimi works at Children's Hospital in the ER and the Love Kitchen, Omar is helping me craft bean bags for Craft Hope, and Zuzu work's at the food pantry and translates for new refugees in the area. There is time for the "hard" parts of life to enter their lives and to make a mark in this area. In the beginning I focus on giving with joy and that can come in so many forms. I could say so much more but I'll just end it with the more we give the more inspired we are to find different ways to help. Happy Monday to you and I hope sweet Jacob is better soon.

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Ivy April 5, 2010 at 2:56 pm

Sorry to hear about the eggs. Your poor boy's system seems to be on overdrive when it comes to foods lately. Hope he feels better soon!

As for the topic, it is an interesting and difficult one. I don't always feel like we do too much, but as I read some of the other comments I realized that we do more than I'd thought. Around Earth Day every year, our family cleans up a small park area — usually not one of the large areas where a big group goes to clean, but a small space close to home that no one else ever takes care of. We donate clothes and other out grown items to Good Will, we donate food whenever their school has a food drive, and the boys' school recently did a fund drive for Haiti. We also participate in walks for Autism, and we talk about big social issues in our house a lot too, mostly because my husband is a sociologist. Of course we could always do more…but I'm not sure how to fit much more into our lives right now. Thank you for reminding me to think about this more consciously.

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maeghan April 5, 2010 at 3:03 pm

We have always openly discussed with Cameron and now Henry about the meaning in giving back to the community. It is not always what you receive but what you can do for others. I have seen my Cameron grow into an amazing little boy with a true "servants heart". He is the first to want to help and give of himself to others. OH don't worry we still have some selfish moments, don't we all, but for the most part he knows the importance of helping everyone because you never know when we might be in need. I hope this helped.

Sorry little man is not well! Hugs to you and the wee ones!

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Lacey April 5, 2010 at 3:16 pm

I have been discussing this topic with my husband a lot lately. We participated in the One Small Change project Hip Mountain Mama put together & I really felt this would have been one of those changes we should try to make–incorporating community service in a real way. We have so much, giving seems something we should only be obliged to do–not just monetarily, but actual time.

We have yet to come up with a good plan, but we are searching the options as well. Being a part of the community is essential to feeling needed in the world & connected to fellow men. I believe this young stage in life is a great time to really instill some sense of service…

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amanda April 5, 2010 at 5:04 pm

i certainly appreciate this post, and look forward to others responses as well.

i have 3 young ones and have struggled to find ways for them to give back, as well as myself.

after the earthquakes of haiti we did a lemon-AID stand in our driveway. it was an amazing experience. we were blown away by generosity of our community, especially by those who i knew didn't have much to spare. it was so inspiring, and we raised $130 in two hours.

we brought the money to our local red cross office. since our kids are so young, i felt this helped them to better understand where the money was going. a check in the mail is so much more abstract, ya know?

another idea is picking up trash on our street (sadly, we have lots of litter – you can't imagine how someone would just throw their trash on the ground!). we get the wagon out + their toy grabbers. this gives them a sense of pride as the help to clean up their neighborhood.

we also live by an older woman. picking up litter in her yard or bringing her newspaper to her door. little things, but it teaches them a lot + it's something they can do.

one year we planned a visit with our homeschooling group to go to the nursing home to bring christmas cards. with all of the busy-ness of the holidays it didn't work out. instead we rescheduled for valentines. things always work out for the best, and this is a perfect example of that. the nursing homes have many visitors at the holidays. so our visit was far more appreciated at a different time of the year. the kids made cards and we visited during their afternoon social hour. i really recommend this to others. the kids enjoy making the cards and handing them out helps the little ones to interact more with the residents. pick any day of the year, make it special.

i know i have a list somewhere of more service ideas. i'll look around. i hope i didn't go on too long.

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Jen April 5, 2010 at 6:02 pm

I want to echo what Amanda mentioned about the elderly. Senior citizens are in every community large or small and they are often far away from loved ones or have none at all. Sharing meals, helping with day-to-day shopping, mowing lawns, or just spending time playing board games, reading or chatting is so meaningful to them. My mother was the director of nursing at an old folks home when I was growing up and so we spent many hours sharing our time and lives with some great people full of wisdom and love. I think it is a great place to start giving for children because of the benefit of sharing generations of life and because it is about giving of yourself rather than things or money etc.
I plan to seek out a home to visit with my little guy even though he is only 2. He has lots of love to share even at such a young age.

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Merrie April 5, 2010 at 6:24 pm

My daughter has always loved "crafting" with Mommy. Now that she is 18, she helps me teach my AWANA kids (pre-K thru 6th grade) how to make handmade Valentine's every year. We spend about 3 weeks withe the kids to make 200+ handmade cards. We go to an assisted living center and they let us go door to door hand delivering the valentines to the residents. The kids look forward to it every year and the residents love it! They get visitors at Christmas, but then don't have many after that. It is wonderful for the residents who don't often get to see their grandchildren, and for our kids who live far from their grandparents.

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Fiona April 5, 2010 at 7:49 pm

I would point you towards Amanda Soule's The Creative Family for sound advice on this. My instinct would be to follow the child. What struggles do they ask most about, feel the worst about? That would be a wonderful place to start. And start slow would also be my instinct. All of us, especially children, need not do much to feel we've made a difference. Even dropping off food or clothes to a charity is something meaningful that they can be part of.

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Jenn April 5, 2010 at 8:34 pm

I followed what my grandmother did with me. We pretty much had our little community and when something from school branched out to help I decided I wanted to do something else too. And went from there. Melodie is 5 and has helped my grandmother set up the snack table for her Christian womens group and even done an Adopt-a-Highway with me(used to be sponsered through my store, but now instead we just go everyother month as a group of about a dozen). I say let them tell/show you when they are ready. Sooner or later something will catch their interest and if there is a way to help out before that event, ask if they would like to. Since handwork and knitting are a big part of your life, why not make squares for a blanket project, one little square goes a long way in helping. I know my cousin knits caps/hats for chemo patients and those with alopicia.

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Debbie April 5, 2010 at 9:25 pm

Picking up litter in the neighborhood.
Shopping or collecting food for the local food pantry. Some pantry are also open to letting kids help stock the shelves. Just bringing the food there is a huge feedback/feel good experience for the kids. Especially if "shoppers" are there at the pantry.
Crafting warm woolies with mom. Our pantry takes all kinds of knitted and fleece goods for the winter.
Gathering household and clothing items regularly for the Big Brother Big sister organization.
Helping the elderly on any level.
Check with your town for ideas too.
We homeschool so we usually take one afternoon a week and perform our service. So it's become just a regular part of who we are.
Start slow and it will build naturally. Good luck!

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sunnymama April 6, 2010 at 12:42 am

This is such an interesting discussion. When sunnyboy was a baby I started volunteering at a charity shop (would the US equivalent be Goodwill?) and we still work there together. It's been a wonderful and rewarding experience for both of us. I posted about it here: http://sunnydaytodaymama.blogspot.com/2009/09/par
I hope your son is feeling much better soon. :)

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becky April 6, 2010 at 12:50 am

When I was about 6 my grandmother took me with her to visit some people she knew who lived on a reservation – she had food and clothing to take to them. It was a small thing but it had a huge impact on me. It made me very aware of people who had need of things ( and we didn't have much more), and it also somehow registered the importance of preserving dignity when offering things to people.
My grandchildren get exposed to service via visits to nursing homes, projects at church such as collecting linens for the animal shelter and then keeping the storage shed neat, and through our habit of donating to groups like Heifer Project, Central Asia Institute, or Episcopal Relief and Development in their name – and we talk about why we do that.

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Jaimie April 6, 2010 at 1:43 am

I started volunteering with my toddlers this fall. They are currently 1 1/2 and 3 1/2, so it can be done. We developed a volunteer program with an assisted living home nearby, and we recruited several other families to join us. The "grand-friends," as we call them, absolutely love our children's visits. They are really pretty low-functioning, and many of them can't really even talk to us, but their eyes light up and they are captivated just by watching the children play. Every time we go, the nurses and staff talk to us about how ours are the only children they see. It's really sad, actually, and makes me really have to face the facts about our strangely divided society in which old people are stuffed away in a building by themselves. Unfortunately, we've had a hard time with attendance (sick kids can't go, etc.), and we're temporarily stopping the program until we can figure out a way to get better attendance, but I felt really good about doing it. My 3 1/2 year old was genuinely sad the last time we had to cancel because of low attendance. She really wanted to go, and she really understands that she's helping these people feel good.

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kyndale April 6, 2010 at 3:12 am

I hope he's feeling better! I think if it's important to you, the opportunities to show your kids the important of service will present themselves to you quite effortlessly. There are so many ways to show my kids the importance of service to the world around them. When the Haitian earthquake hit, I was reading something about where to give and Amelia just came up and gave me a few dollars from her stash to send to the Red Cross. I was very proud of her.

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kendra April 6, 2010 at 3:45 am

heather, i am so sorry about the eggs! (have you been having them for awhile? we have added them back in to our diet recently, so i am curious, personally!) food reactions are really hard. especially, for me, in community, i have to say!

service to the planet is very prevalent in our lives (and i believe this extends to community!). as far as service to the wider community, a lot of ideas here are really great! i hope you find something that feels right for you and yours.

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Heather April 6, 2010 at 4:53 am

Hi there. I am really sorry to hear about your little boy. I hope he gets better quickly. We have been thinking about similar things lately. We feel so blessed and fortunate and want to share this with others. For us it is children that we want to reach out to. I have been doing my research and there is a program here in Australia called Aunties and Uncles. It is about helping out families who are trying to stay together but are really struggling because of some hardship in some way. You become like an extended family for a sibling and one weekend a month (I think this is the commitment) you take the child into your home and share your life with them. It is a long term commitment. I think it is a wonderful thing as your children learn to share their home and their possessions with another child. They see first hand that not everyone else lives like they do. I have no idea if a program like this is offered where you live but maybe there is something similar. http://www.auntiesanduncles.com.au/

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marina April 6, 2010 at 11:38 am

I'm so very sorry to hear that your little one was feeling so ill and hope he's feeling better as you get this…

As we walk down the block to our market or to get coffee where we live, there are a few street people. Many of them are quite sweet and have been "regulars" in our neighborhood for years. This may sound strange, but our boys know them by name as we often say hello and share a few pleasantries as we are out and about. If I have extra money, we'll pick up an extra roll for our friends. I hope that I am teaching them by example that these people may be down on their luck, but they are still human beings and still deserving of respect. I want my kids to understand kindness and the only way I know how to pass this along is by example. There are a few not-so-nice street people who rant and swear or walk around intoxicated and I teach the boys that they are not well and it's better to leave them be and give them a wide berth. (Really, I do live in a nice neighborhood, it's just Berkeley!)

Recently, I've started enlisting them to help me go through toys and clothes to donate and they understand that it's for families less fortunate and I love that they are embracing the idea. As they get older, we'll do things like donate our time volunteer work (I think there's a link somewhere describing volunteer opportunities for families- will pass it along when I find it)

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Sheryl Paul April 6, 2010 at 1:43 pm

What a great post and so beautifully expressed. It's a question that I struggle with quite often as my oldest is now 5 1/2 and fully capable of being of service. We're deeply connected to the nature around us and one thing I've been wanting to organize is a neighborhood creek clean up. There's a wonderful local organization (can't remember the name right now – too sleep deprived ; ) that helps communities organize and lets us know how to care for our local waterways. I love the idea on two levels: teaching our kids to be stewards of nature and solidifying bonds in our neighborhood community. Thanks for reminding me of one of my spring goals. And I hope your little one is feeling better…

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MackenzieH April 6, 2010 at 4:25 pm

My kids are younger than yours (4 and 2) but I am trying to set the foundations of a serving spirit that will grow by the time they are really old enough. We focus on small acts, but talk about how they often have a big impact. Things like making donations to thrift stores are good chances for these talks. To use the items are unused, un-needed, and to someone else (I suggest who maybe doesn't have funds for new things, or maybe doesn't have a job etc small things they can start to grasp) will be able to use them. I guess what I'm getting at, is that we talk about serving allot at this age…we talk about how different members of the community have different jobs that everyone needs them to do…the mailman, our CSA farmers etc. Once they are older I will start to look for more opportunities, but I think the key is to keep it on an age appropriate level…they don't need to know about all the problems of the world to learn to help others, I figure just start small, and it will gradually grow as they do! I don't know if that was any help, but that's my theory! :)

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Mary--YDP April 6, 2010 at 4:29 pm

Heather, I feel so bad for your son. And you, what a burden to bear for both of you.

On service, my kids are 2.5 and four, as you know, and Eric and I (with a few other families) are co-founders of an organization that feeds people in our community. We gather surpluses from area businesses: bakeries, frozen food production facilities, local farmers, local gardeners and the organization then finds people who have food deficits, and hook them together. Basically we feed hungry people with food that would have been wasted. Our kids join us at the banquets we serve, on food runs to drop off, when we shuck and process large amounts of donated garden corn and tomatoes. We model for them serving and feeding people. I'm not sure if they really get it yet, but I hope that as they grow up and this continues that they're knowledge and understanding of feeding people is a necessity for caring for human beings. Taking care of basic needs in the community is vital.

I know that your family will find a place that you fit and something that feels comfortable to you.

How is your egg-eater feeling? Any better today? How are you doing?

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Ali April 6, 2010 at 7:09 pm

we have a kindness wednesday where we take a little more time to notice kind things that others do for us and try to do some kind things ourselves. if we bake, we make extra and take them to our neighbours and friends. We've made cards for 'poorly children' in Romania. i always tell the children if i'm making something for someone else, and explain what charities I'm making for. At our parent and child group we collect tins for the soup kitchen which is run in the same hall. I don't think that young children have to directly experience the hardship of others to understand it (and also i think some can get very scared by people who are different), they need time to gradually understand that others have it harder and to learn the different ways that people can suffer. i think that example is the best as they seem naturally inclined to copy and just a little effort to focus on it can do wonders. we also have a book called reach out and give which is helpful. I hope i haven't repeated any of the other comments.

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Sheryl Paul April 6, 2010 at 9:04 pm

Here's the link to the site I mentioned earlier: http://www.keepitcleanpartnership.org/

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Brittany April 7, 2010 at 12:59 pm

My kiddos are all 6 and under and I have been mindful of involving them in service, though there is always room for improvement (for them and for me!). We do some of the things that others have mentioned – donating used items to friends, Goodwill, etc. and cleaning up litter while we are out and about. We also have some annual events that we participate in – every August we go shopping for school supplies for kids in our local area who are in need. I have each child "adopt" someone through our local YMCA from the program and then go shopping for them – they like to know that they are picking out things for a specific child (I try to match the kids up by age and gender as much as possible). We also "adopt" children through the Salvation Army or our church at Christmas time so that the kids can help brighten another child's holiday. Someone else mentioned Amanda's book "The Creative Family" – we also adopted the "gift to the earth" idea and last year the children decided to help stray animals. To keep it age appropriate, we donated food and other items to rescue organizations and then visited our local SPCA where the kids could play with the cats waiting to be adopted and give treats to the dogs (we talked about how this helped show love to animals who really needed it). We haven't settled on something for this year yet. We also put together hygiene kits for Haiti through a local church after the earthquake – it allowed us to talk about the fact that there had been an earthquake and many people lost their homes and everything they owned. We put together a dozen kits and it was a more tangible way for the kids to see that they were helping than simply saying that we were donating money (though we did that, too).

I would recommend, just as another commenter did, that you check out the service projects being sponsored at your local elementary school – they are sure to welcome additional support. So far this school year we have donated gently used shoes for children in Uganda, we've bought school supplies, we've made brownies for a bake sale to benefit Haiti, we've made blankets for the local children's hospital, we've donated food for a canned food drive, and we are currently collecting scrapbooking supplies for an organization that works with children who have lost a family member.

I have been inspired by the comments about volunteering in nursing homes – I thought that my kids were too young but now I am revisiting that idea. Thanks for this post and for all of the comments…it really has me thinking!

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Francesca April 7, 2010 at 1:06 pm

So sorry to hear about your boy Heather, the allergy and the respiratory infection! I hope he'll better soon, and I hope you find some answers to this new health development. There's nothing worse than seeing our kids sick. Hugs.

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NicoleFrontierDreams April 7, 2010 at 3:55 pm

I missed this on Monday Heather, I am so sorry!!! Your poor little guy. He is so fortunate to have such an amazing mother as you. You are really amazing for all tghat you do and aspire to do!!XOXO

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rae April 8, 2010 at 12:56 am

oh, i am so sad for your little one! hope he is on the mend now. what a tragic way to spend easter! felted eggs for next year, eh?

just off the top of my head, each november, my daughter (and now my son) and i go through all of her things and pull out those things that she does not use so much any more. she is very much a part of this and is often more generous than i could imagine. she knows that the toys and clothes are going to women and children who need them. we donate them to the mary benson house, a local rehabilitation house for alcoholic moms and their kids. we don't talk about why the moms are there, just that not everyone is as blessed as us and that we want to share what we have with others. sienna loves to carry the items in to the moms.

also, she loves to bake goodies for our neighbors. there aren't many kids around. there are several older gentleman that live alone and a single mom whose kids recently all moved out. several times a year sienna makes them all treats and delivers them door to door. it is so cute! one of the guys is disabled and sienna will go and check his mail for him and take his paper in on a regular basis.

i believe very strongly that we should not try to over explain these things. they can not carry the weight of the sadness. it is wonderful to find ways to involve them in helping others. you probably already do this in many ways! maybe you just haven't thought about it that way. sorry to ramble on so long! :)

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Jennifer April 9, 2010 at 1:04 am

I am so glad you mentioned giving in the form of sharing music! Even if we don't have a lot of money to give, we all have talents and passions that the world can benefit from.

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Jennifer April 9, 2010 at 1:16 am

Heather, thank you for starting this conversation! I've thought about this a lot and I enjoyed reading all of the comments as well. For me, instilling a love for service in my children is extremely important. I have also struggled with the ideas of what to expose my children to and when and how can a 1 and 3 year old participate. After reading the comments, I am inspired to do so much more with my little ones. I loved the idea of sharing their talents to brighten up someone's day, like visiting people at a nursing home. I also think my 3 year old could really understand how planting an extra row of food in our garden and bringing it to a food shelter would help feed someone who was hungry. Thanks again!

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