Recently, a neighbor friend of mine taught Miss S about service. That day after S came home, I found her quietly doing acts of service for her family. When I asked Mr R to take some toys upstairs, S jumped in and said, “I can do that for him!” When her dad asked for a hug, she enthusiastically jumped into his arms. While I was making dinner, she came to ask where she could help.
I watched her throughout the day and as I was tucking her in that night, I thanked her for being so helpful today and wanted her to notice that I had seen how she made others happy. She smiled and simply said, “I learned that I could give service mom.”
They often say that it is from the mouth of babes we learn our greatest lessons. And so three weeks into this Thanksgiving month, my little girl reminded me of service – small, daily acts of kindness. And in truth some of my greatest moments of happiness have come while giving service.
So last night I brought out our cow jar again and had the kids count how much money was in it. For more than a year my family have been working to raise money to buy a cow through Heifer International. I admire the work they are doing and how they help people help themselves. My kids love animals and I thought it would be a good way to help them learn to give. So I had gone to the dollar store, got a small glass jar and a small cloth cow puppet that fit over the opening of the jar. And from there we collected all our spare changes, sometimes chore money and any loose change we could find. Periodically, we would take trips to the bank to convert all our pennies and dimes into dollars. Last night as the kids counted the money, we are up to 125.00.
While not enough for a cow, our original goal, this could help us buy a goat, a pig, perhaps several flocks of chicken or honeybees. I loved seeing the looks on my kids faces as they explored the options of how we could give with the money we had saved. Here’s a short video on how Heifer International’s system works:
There are so many ways to give, to share, to help someone this season. Like Miss S, we can simply be more willing to love, to help, to share our lives. Also there are lots of organized ways to give, for example, our bank is collecting shoes for children and our favorite bakery is exchanging one coat for one cookie. The food pantry and domestic abuse shelters need donations of food and money. In fact, tomorrow night we are going to the food pantry to help as a family. I am so excited to share this opportunity to serve with my kids.
And last, while I enjoy giving, I also need reminders, rituals and traditions to help me remember what Miss S taught about service. So in thinking about how to do that for my family, I found this at potterbarnkids and realized it would be perfect to start a tradition.
Each day has a small pocket on it for notes, pictures, money. I want to ritualize our families giving in November of each year. One day might be a roll of quarters to donate. One day might be the picture and short story of service given by our grandparents, friends or neighbors. One day might be a song about service we can learn or a website to look at of different kids and how they have raised money to help others.
It might not be earth shattering for my family but it is something. And I have learned that service, whether big or small still counts! So what are you going to do this Thanksgiving to show those you care? What are some ideas or traditions you have around service and giving? When was a time you felt someone give to you and it made a difference?