For many people around the country, the holiday season is a time to celebrate. Though for many others it can be an emotionally difficult time, and those are the people who could use some extra holiday cheer.
Each year I try to get my kids involved in paying it forward in some way. It is a great opportunity to teach my kids compassion, to remind them how fortunate they are, and to show gratitude by giving back to others.
We try to donate annually to Toys for Tots. When my boys were younger we would go to the toy store and let them each choose a toy to donate with our other items. One year we had an excess of items and brought them directly to a local hospital.
We also used to choose a child from the gift tree at school. We learned about the child through a letter he or she has written and bought items according to each child’s interests.
Though we donate somewhat regularly, one year we also did a massive food shopping for the local food bank. The boys came with me to the grocery store and we chose items carefully for the families in need.
Each year I purchase a gift for a child through the Kisses for Kyle annual holiday drive. (This year it was a bracelet from Alex & Ani, which seemed to be one of the hot ticket items!) This is one of my absolute favorite local organizations. It was started by my now friend Sharon after losing her son to Leukemia. Kisses for Kyle serves families with a child suffering from cancer throughout the Greater Philadelphia region. One year each of my children read through the holiday wish list and chose a wish to fill. Sharon works tirelessly all throughout the year to make life a little less stressful for these courageous families.
Last year my whole family rang the red kettle for the Salvation Army. What an interesting lesson it was for my boys to see who gave gladly, who gave reluctantly, who declined, and who pretended not to notice us. It left them feeling both great to have helped in some small way, and uneasy in knowing that there is so much more that could be done.
So what could my boys do this year to pay it forward? Well, we got some help thanks to my working relationship with Stonyfield. They generously sent me a $50 Visa Gift Card to donate towards a good deed. It came at a great time too. This was an expensive year so the amount we could give this holiday season was less than usual.
Fortunately, the folks at Stonyfield are helping me take some time with my family this month to do a good deed. My kids are getting older now, and I want them to continue thinking of others as they move forward through their lives, and in the years after they have left our home.
I was just about to ask my boys what we should do this year to pay it forward, when my older son began talking about a service project that he is going to be doing for his social studies class. This project will benefit military service men and women, military families, veterans, and families of those lost in service in some way. That’s a cause we can surely get behind. We went online and looked up several charitable organizations, and he became more and more interested in sending books to the troops.
Operation Paperback is a national, non-profit organization, whose volunteers collect gently-used books and send them to American troops overseas, as well as veterans and military families here at home. Since 1999, they have shipped out over 2.2 million books, and now we too will be collecting books to send to the troops.
What we also loved about this organization is that a small donation can make a big difference. Just $5 covers the cost of one medium-sized box of books, and $20 will help pay for the purchase and shipment of a box of high-demand genre books to any overseas military location. Thanks to our friends at Stonyfield, we are able to cover two medium-sized boxes of books and bay for the purchase and shipment of two high-demand genre books!
Our service members and their families make sacrifices every day for our country. I am grateful for their service, and for the ability to help make their day even a little brighter.
How will you and your family be paying it forward this holiday season? Please share your ideas below. Happy holidays!
Disclosure: Thank you to Stonyfield for being a sponsor of this post and for providing my family with a gift card so that we can pay it forward. You rock!
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