Why let cabin fever set in during these snowy and often dreary winter months? Use this time as an opportunity to get out of the house and serve others!
The holidays always bring out lots of volunteers and are an easy time to help. However, need is all around us ALL the time. Here are several kid-friendly ways can you bring warmth and sunshine to others during these cold snowy months:
- Shovel snow for a neighbor, an elderly person, or someone who could really use a good deed done for them.
- If someone has helped your family and brought their snow blower or shovel to your rescue, thank them with a warm plate of baked goods or a jar of homemade cocoa. Nothing is appreciated as much as a heart-felt thank you and homemade treats!
- Have a warm cup of cocoa ready for your mail carrier when they make their rounds. They’ll appreciate being warmed up.
- Retrieve mail for neighbors (with their permission). If you have a community mailbox area, have your child pick up and deliver the mail and newspapers of an elderly or disabled neighbor who may have trouble getting to it in the snow.
- Stuff new, warm socks with water bottles and granola bars to give to homeless men and women you pass on street corners.
- Visit a nursing home around Valentine’s Day with your children! Kids bring such joy to the residents and the kids love all the attention too! Give your children an activity to do that will help them interact with the residents. For instance, here at Valentine’s, our family wants to remind the residents that they are loved. So we will be handing out pieces of the boys’ Valentine artwork and a cute postcard reminding the residents that they are special and that they are loved. (Note: Call ahead to schedule your visit and then check out the Fall & Holiday Kid-Friendly Service Projects for tips to make your nursing home/retirement center visit a success.)
- Paint an elderly woman’s nails. Or if your daughter is old enough, let her do the painting.
- Put together activity bags that you and your child can distribute to shelters, children’s hospitals, or any child that could use some cheering up. Let your child help pick out their favorite activities to share and have them pack the bags. Items could include:
- Coloring pages
- Homemade activities and games
- Kid’s scissors
- Glue sticks
- Make scarves, hats, or mittens for a child who can’t afford them. If your child knows how, have them crochet or knit an item. Otherwise, no-sew fleece scarves (directions below) are super easy to make and nice & cozy warm!
- Select a piece of fleece fabric from the store. These now come in a fun selection of colors and prints.
- Cut the fleece so it is 5 feet long and 7 inches wide. (This is the PERFECT length for a child ages 2-9. For older children, just add more length.)
- Cut 1-2” tassels at each end.
Year-Round Organized Service Opportunities
Jared Boxes are shoe box size plastic boxes filled with games and toys and are given to chronically ill children as a special diversion while they undergo chemotherapy or other medical treatments. For more on how to make a Jared Box, visit their website: http://www.thejaredbox.com/makeAJaredBox.html
Or… if you have a passion for another cause, do an online search for other organizations you can support in a similar manner. For instance, we received a wonderful care package from Cranio Care Bears that offered a prayer chain, hospital necessities, and relaxation items for our baby as he underwent head surgery for Craniosysnostosis. These care packages will mean the world to the child and their family! (Or if you know a family directly, consider making them a personalized care package. We received one from my MOPS group which helped relieve some of the stress of a week-long hospital stay.)
The slowest months for food pantry donations are often January, February, and the summer months. Decorate reusable grocery bags and fill them with non-perishable food items to share with families in need. Let your child help you grocery shop and even pick out some of their favorites to donate. Feeding America offers a Food Bank locator at www.feedingamerica.org, searchable by zip code.