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Wisconsin Parent

10 Ways Your Family Can Serve Others this Holiday Season

Oct 22, 2014 08:06AM ● By Tiffany Malloy
The season of “getting” is nearly upon us and you may be wondering how to get your child to stop making wish lists and focus on giving back to others. For families with young kids the act of getting out and helping others during the busy holiday season can be a bit overwhelming, BUT there are a few tried and true ways to give back that might work really well for your family:

1. Make a blanket

Project Linus is an organization that collects and donates blankets to hospitals all over the country. When kids are hospitalized, they get their very own blanket, which not only provides warmth (those rooms can be so cold!) but also comfort. One of the most popular blankets they collect are fleece blankets of various sizes. Even the smallest of kids can help make these, making it a perfect collaborative project for any family.

2. Ronald McDonald house

The Ronald McDonald house serves thousands of families each year, and most of what they do is donated and provided by volunteers (both families and businesses). They have many ways that families can help out – whether it be buying gifts, making a meal or snack, doing some yard work, shoveling snow, or collecting pull tabs from aluminum cans. Each house has different projects, so be sure to find your local Ronald McDonald house online to see their most pressing needs!

3. Create cards

Gather some art supplies and spend an afternoon around the kitchen table as a family working together to make some fun and encouraging cards for kids who are suffering from life-threatening illnesses. Send Kids the World is one organization that helps people do this, but there are many others around the web.

4. Do random acts of kindness

As a family, spend some time dreaming up as many ways as you can to brighten a stranger’s day. Buy the coffee for the person behind you in the drive through. Pay for a family’s meal when you’re out to dinner next time (have your kids pick which one!), or leave change in a vending machine with a little note. Pick one to do everyday on the 12 days leading up to Christmas. Don’t be surprised if your kids want to keep it going into the New Year!

5. Make a meal for a friend

Most of us know a neighbor, family member, or friend who is sick or could use a helping hand. Have your children plan a menu, help with the grocery shopping and meal preparation, as well as do the delivery. Not only will the recipient be grateful, your kids will also feel proud of their contribution.

6. Shovel your neighbors snow

We all know how WONDERFUL it would be to wake up to a snow shoveled sidewalk and driveway. Can you even imagine?

7. Babysit for a family who could use a break

Know a single parent or a family with a bunch of young kids who could use a break? Offer to babysit their kids during a morning, afternoon or night! Have your kids plan some fun activities to do with the kids while they are over. This is a good one for families with older kids to do – put the big kids in charge (but be sure to supervise).

8. Throw a party

Why not invite others to give too? As a family host a party that raises awareness and support for a specific cause. If your kids are into sports, perhaps throw a sports party and invite everyone to bring a new or gently used piece of sports equipment. If you are a bunch of bibliophiles, ask each person to bring a favorite book! With whatever you decide, donate the items to a local under resourced elementary school.

9. Fill a shoebox

Samaritan’s Purse is an organization that delivers shoeboxes filled with toiletries, socks, small gifts, school supplies, etc. all over the world. You can fill a box for a boy or girl in a specific age range and you can even track your box to see where it eventually goes! My kids have had fun finding the perfect items to fill their boxes and are excited for kids in other parts of the world to experience a little holiday extravagance too.

 10. Clean up your little section of the world

Grab some gloves and a trash bag and start walking! No matter where you live, work, or play, you are bound to find litter. This activity requires no money, just a lot of hard work. And actually, kids often find it to be fun!

We’d love to hear stories and other ways that your family has helped out in your community or around the world!