December 15th, 2014
I’ve always thought about volunteering – always meaning to do something and give back – but I never have. Why? I can come up with 1,000 excuses, let me count the ways. But no more!
Thanks to my great friend Brooke Sevenau, I found a way to actually do something that resonates with me and is very simple to do. Brooke told me about her mother’s idea to celebrate her 60th birthday by skipping presents for herself, and instead creating “giving bags” for people in need. Everyone in the family participated, and putting them together, as a family, was part of the fun!
First, you start with a plastic Ziploc bag. Fill it with things people need – socks, toothbrush, toothpaste, Band-Aids, polysporin, Tylenol, Kind Bars, deodorant, razors, hair ties, and all those mini soaps you’ve been hoarding from hotels. (The dollar store and Target are great places to stock up!) Then, add your extra change from the change jars around the house and the bottom of your purse. Finally – add a note, a poem, or adrawing from your kids, who will love to be involved, too! Anything personal, something that says, “I see you and you are important.” I’m going to have my kids write “Merry Christmas from Quinn and Tristyn.”
Why did Brooke’s story move me? It connected with what I believe: I believe people want to be seen. I believe that if we help out with the little daily needs, life can be that much more bearable. So, this holiday season my family is going to take the time to show someone that we care about their basic human needs, and actually do something about it.
Do I want to teach my kids something? Yes, I want them to love people. I want them to understand that hardship comes in many forms, and that everyone needs a smile and a helping hand sometimes. Having children makes me strive to be a better person. They inspire me to make different choices and show up in ways I never imagined. I want to let my kids experience the joy of giving.
Brooke leaves these care packages in her car, so when she drives by someone in need she can share something and connect on a very personal level. So much better than passing someone on a freeway exit and staring into space, as if we don’t see the human being in front of us!
If you are looking for gift ideas that are less about stuff and more about making our world a better place, there are lots of options. Donating on behalf of someone you love is a great way to give a gift and share your passion. Who knows, you just might spark the giving fire in someone else!
This year, I’m choosing not to buy presents for friends and family. Instead, I’m giving through Heifer International. If you aren’t familiar with their giving programs, they provide a very easy way to support people in need around the world. You can buy a cow, chickens, or a goat for a village. Or, you can buy clean water, irrigation pumps, stoves and other essentials to make someone’s life better. Children love the idea of giving something tangible like this as a gift, especially when they know another child just like them is going to benefit.
At Festoon, we have always been concerned with sustainability. How do we help others in our local community? In our global community? I’m not rich, but I have more than most, and sharing the abundance I’ve been blessed with is a really good feeling. As we end 2014 and begin 2015, I’m starting to imagine the year ahead. How can I change lives in a good way? I’m looking for new inspiration all the time.
In the spirit of inspiring each other to do good deeds, please join our Festoon community on Facebook and share your traditions of giving back! Then, “like” the deeds that motivate you. The person who gets the most likes will receive a haircut on us. Because we are thankful for you!