This is the perfect time of year for brainstorming ways you can get your little ones involved in reaching out to others! Something about the upcoming holidays just makes this kind of thing even more fun, and I thought I would share a few ways we get our little ones excited about OTHERS. Acts of Service can come in the form of global outreach, but they can also be things we do to show love right in our own communities.
Idea #1: When you’re going through the drive-thru at Dunkin’ Donuts..or Chick-fil-a…or where ever, pay for your order AND the one that belongs to the people in the car behind you! As you pull in to the restaurant parking lot, let your kids know what you’re going to do, and keep them excited while you wait! Hey kids, what do you think they ordered? How do you think they’re going to feel when they realize that someone else paid for their meal? Isn’t it fun to do something unexpected for other people? My kids are still young and have a pretty limited concept of all that goes along with the idea of money, but they STILL get excited about this. They love it, and it has been a great way to encourage them to notice other people around us. We are not the only people at Chick-fil-a…though at times they’ve wondered if we lived there. *smile* I have to tell you that the best time to do this is on a day when things just aren’t going all that smoothly…nothing helps our family regroup like looking outside of ourselves and doing something kind for someone else. It can be a game-changer for sure – turning our whole day around!
Idea #2: Do you have a local Hospice House in your city? My oldest loves to accompany me inside the one in our town. We deliver donuts and milk, muffins and tea, etc. and these are gifted to the families whose loved ones are patients at the facility. Has he seen some of the patients? Yes. Has he joined me in greeting families who are gathered together grieving in the kitchen area? Yes, and all of this has led to some fantastic conversation!
It is not until we teach our children about death that we can teach them how to truly live.
Idea #3: Do you have a local pregnancy center in your area? My kids love to gather supplies for the babies (and their mamas!). Whether it’s gently used baby/toddler clothes we are no longer using or other items we pick up at the store, delivering baby/maternal items to the crisis pregnancy facility near us has been one of their favorite service projects thus far. “Mommy, I love when we help the babies!”
Idea #4: Deliver treats to the neighbors! Honestly, we don’t see many of our neighbors very often, so this is a great way to reach out and say hello and make neighbors out of the strangers living right on our street. Baked goods delivered to the door always bring a smile. Your cute kids standing on the porch to greet them won’t hurt either! 😉
Need some ideas for what to put together for the neighbors?
Have a local soup kitchen where your young ones could join you in service?
Know of a nursing home where your children could deliver hand-made crafts and/or sing for the patients? Most social coordinators at these facilities will welcome groups both large and small – Don’t be afraid to give them a call!
Anyone else do Operation Christmas Child? Ahhh, we love joining in that amazing outreach!
Know of a way for your kids to create and send a Christmas card to someone in military service? What a powerful act of service!
No matter the age of your children, find creative ways to introduce them to different people, uncomfortable situations, and engaging environments that will cause them to start asking you life’s most important questions.
Think local…Think global…and let’s join together in teaching how children how to live on mission.
Thanksgiving/Christmas time is such a great time of year to love on those in your community and beyond, but maybe you would prefer to save these ideas for January or February…after the holidays when things are little less festive and someone you know or an outreach you feel passionate about could use a little extra encouragement!
The Goal: to teach our children that community life is about loving and serving those near and far
The Outcome We Pray We See: others-focused kiddos
In what ways do you encourage this with your children? I would love to hear your creative ideas for reaching out to others! It would be fun to try something new this holiday season.