Celebrating the Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Join your neighbors, friends and community this MLK Day to serve others and carry on the legacy of his dream. Check out our top resources below:
Join your neighbors, friends and community this MLK Day to serve others and carry on the legacy of his dream. Check out our top resources below:
Thanks to Thrivent Financial for this guest post!
How will generosity take form with your family this season? It’s important to teach kids that generosity is expressed not just as money and offerings, but as time, physical contributions and even simple acts of kindness.
“Generosity is like a muscle; you can start small and build it up – but the important thing is to start.”
1. Volunteer Together: Whether it's doing a special holiday service project together or simply practicing kindness towards friends, neighbors and the community, your family’s time volunteering together will be a well-spent lesson in generosity. These 10 Family Volunteer Tips will help your family get started.
A new, innovative way families and community members are making a difference is through Thrivent Action Teams – volunteer teams led by Thrivent members that address unmet community needs. With seed money and promotional supplies provided by Thrivent Financial, a leading financial services organization "connecting faith and finances for good," Thrivent Action Teams are an incredible way for Thrivent members to make an impact where they live, work and worship. Learn more.
2. Give What You Get: For each gift your family members receive this holiday season (kids and parents included), make it a new tradition to give one gift back. Your “gift” can be anything, from volunteer time to a hug, a special card, a sweet treat … you name it! Valuing the importance of giving as much as getting can be a recurring mantra for your generous family. Check out “Four Simple Ways to Give” from Thrivent Financial, click here.
3. Know What You Need: Easy, intuitive ways for young children to learn generosity is through understanding needs and wants. Take time as a family to sift through gently used clothes, books and toys and donate them to nonprofit organizations. This is an active way to practice generosity and give back to the community. Bonus idea: Shopping for a big holiday dinner? Ask your kids to help pick out a few delicious, nonperishable items to give to the local foodbank, too.
4. Be Thoughtful: A generous approach to giving is a thoughtful one. Find out what unmet needs resource-limited families in your community have this season. Maybe they need heating assistance, gently used blankets and coats for winter or specific foods. Connect with organizations that can help your family’s contribution make a real-world impact and follow up to find out how your donation or assistance will help.
5. Make it a Priority: Your kids will know giving back is an important part of your family’s priorities when it is a regularly scheduled occurrence. With parties, performances and travel, volunteering and helping others can become an afterthought. Add generosity to your family calendar with a special service project or appropriate acts of kindness during the season (e.g., shoveling an elderly neighbor’s walkway or baking cookies for the local fire department).
More resources from Thrivent Financial:
Baking something sweet for the holiday potluck or Thanksgiving dinner? Taking a meal to an elderly neighbor? Add a special touch to your extra special dish with a cute label or food tag. Right click on your favorite below and download to print for your own use, enjoy!
With the season of thanks officially upon us, it’s time to coordinate real-world giving opportunities for your family. Check out 5 unique giving ideas below and start a new tradition with your family!
1. Halloween Candy Buy-Back: Sitting on pounds of Halloween candy well after the holiday? Sort and send it to Operation Gratitude to be shipped in care packages to troops overseas! They’ll accept donations up through 11/15. Directions, resources and outreach materials here.
2. Red Robin Royalty Program: Did you know that each time you dine at Red Robin, you could be giving back a percent of your check to your child’s school? Their unique royalty program that dolls out tons of surprises to members including free birthday burgers and exclusive savings also supports schools. Register your free account and start earning cash for your school today!
3. Adopt-a-Family: Give your family the opportunity to express true thanks this season by making the holidays brighter for another family. Connect with your church, temple or faith group – or search local nonprofits that organize Giving Tree events. Take the entire family shopping, wrap the gift together and have a conversation about giving and gratitude.
4. Give One, Get One: Turn a gift-giving tradition into a new family mantra – for each gift a child receives, they must return one. It can be to anybody – friend, family, pet, organization, teacher, etc. And it can be anything including gifts, time, compliments, a hug, you name it, let your child decide.
5. Giving on the Go: Family travel a large part of your holiday season? Seek out special opportunities for your family to give while you’re on the road! Stop at a Red Robin for dinner and donate money to your child’s school, learn more. Pack extra granola bars and water bottles to hand out to homeless people you pass on your trip. Or if getting together with extended family, plan an afternoon service project together like a neighborhood clean-up or family charity hot chocolate stand!
More about Red Robin Royalty: Give back 1% of your check to your child’s school everytime you dine at Red Robin! It’s easy to sign up and start earning today, click here. Plus, you’ll get bonus rewards and savings too, just for being a member! Get started
Food allergies don't take a break for one of the biggest food holidays of the year, and it's so important to spread awareness to help keep all kids safe. Helping families make Halloween celebrations sweet for all kids, the nonprofit FARE (Food and Allergy Research Education) is continuing the Teal Pumpkin Project this year, hoping to reach 100K households. It's super easy to get involved!
1) Take the pledge to support a safe and happy Halloween for all kids over on FARE, click here.
2) Buy non-edible Halloween goodies to hand out to trick or treaters like:
3) Pain a pumpkin teal and place on your front porch so families with kids with allergies know it's a safe place to go!
Will your family be joining the Teal Pumpkin Project this year? Tell us about it over on facebook!
Don't miss these 5 unique volunteering ideas, great for older kids and teenagers, that will have them helping others and picking up a few lessons along the way this summer:
Coach or Mentor
Encourage your young athlete or bookworm to share his or her expertise with kids from your neighborhood, faith group or local children's organization. Teaching free lessons, mentoring or even tutoring is a great way for teens to give back using the skills and knowledge they already have.
Summer months don't always have to be lazy! Encourage your tweens and teens to coordinate a book drive with their friends and neighbors that involves collection, sorting and donating to the local library or children's shelter.
Summertime for many kids in this country means months without access to meals which were provided by the cafeteria during the school year. Find an organization near your family with a mission to help feed children in the community who would otherwise go hungry and find out how your tween or teen can get involved whether by donating or volunteering their time.
While the warm summer days allow for more outside play, think even greener with volunteer opportunities for your family that help the environment. Whether it's a new recycling or composting initiative in your own house, or a neighborhood project to coordinate a monthly clean sweep of green spaces and the local park, the eco-friendly ideas are on trend for teens and tweens looking to make a difference.
Kindness Scavenger Hunt
Host a kindness scavenger hunt, promoting small acts of kindness in your community! From holding the door for someone to recycling to leaving a friendly note for a neighbor, spreading kindness through this challenge will be fun and thought-provoking. Have your tweens or teens come up with the hunt challenges themselves, or work with fellow parents to design the framework for the adventure.
Planning a big 4th of July bbq, pool party, or potluck? It's easy to turn your community gathering into a bonus act of kindness with these 5 fun ideas that will have your whole family pitching in:
1. Dandy Donation: Remind your party guests and attendees to bring 2 - 3 non-perishable or canned food items with them to be donated to a local food bank. Help your kids decorate a "donation" box and place it right outside the front door for folks to drop their goods on their way in.
2. Bonus Bake-off: Chances are your Independence Day potluck will have you creating a delicious masterpiece or two in the kitchen. Bake an extra batch of cookies, cake, or other type of goodie for an elderly neighbor, shut-in or friend.
Related: 5 Flavorful Bake Sale Hints & Tips
3. Hamburger Handout: On the day of your cookout, make a plate with a burger, sides and all the fixin's and have the kids deliver it to a neighbor you know won't be getting out for the holiday; or a new mom who could use the fuel.
4. Cards & Crafts: Get in the Patriotic spirit and create a kids corner where all your guests' children can decorate cards, write letters, and create artwork as thank you's for their camp counselors, babysitters, coaches and other mentors they have during those months off from school.
5. Snappy Snack: Planning a sunny morning at the Independence Day parade in town? Stash some extra granola bars and water bottles in your bag to have on hand to hand out to homeless men and women you pass on the street.
You know VolunteerSpot can power your nonprofit and school volunteer efforts - but did you know it's also the perfect tool for coordinating Summer fun? Quickly create sign-ups for potlucks, family reunions, camping trips, you name it. Our easy, intuitive features simply the task of creating lists and schedules, while 24/7 mobile access and automated reminders keep all your family and friends on track! Get started
Our Quick Item Entry feature makes it so easy to build a fast list of items you need brought or donated to your party, potluck, or function. Create your sign-up in minutes and invite friends and family to sign-up via email or social media! Learn more
Our FUN Summer themes add that flare and flavor your potluck sign-up needs! Choose from a variety of foodie and Summer theme and badge combinations - or upload your own neighborhood or family image to customize your sign-up. Learn more
Your family and friends will be singing your praises this Summer when you use VolunteerSpot to coordinate get-togethers, potlucks and parties. Now no one will forget what they signed up for or show up with the same dish!
Thanks to RewardVolunteers for this inspiring guest post. RewardVolunteers makes it easy to do GOOD, earn rewards and spread the word about helping others.
Shine a light on service this Summer with these creative and FUN volunteer ideas for kids of all ages!
K – 6 > You’re never too young to give back! We love these easy, kid-friendly ideas for helping others:
Teens > Encourage your teen to join their friends in planning a special service project over the Summer:
Youth/Adults > It’s easy to weave service into fun Summer events and activities you already have planned:
Get rewarded for all your GOOD work with RewardVolunteers! Reward Volunteers is a free, easy way to track the time you spend volunteering in your community and to earn rewards for your contributions. You can also amplify your good work on social media to spread the word and get friends involved. Prizes include vacations, cash, cruises and much more. Get started
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By: Sarah Aadland of Doing Good Together
Did your resolutions for 2015 snuggle in for a long winter nap, never to awake? If your good intentions were overtaken by the gray malaise of winter, now is the time to dust them off. Spring is here, and along with it, the renewed verve and optimism we’ve all been waiting for.
Below are some of our favorite ideas for volunteering as a family this spring.
It seems we began with a spring bucket list and concluded with summer planning, but we all know how fast this season of renewal lasts. Make the most of it! By choosing a project that interests you and putting it on the calendar now, you’ll be sure to make some lasting, meaningful memories from now through the end of summer.
If you don't have a standing service project or volunteer opportunity already planned today, there are still ways to honor MLK's legacy with your family. Martin Luther King, Jr. taught us that love and kindness will always triumph and always bring light to others - practice kindness and generosity today in helping others and giving back:
1. Donate to a cause your family cares about: If your family has a local non-profit or national cause that is close to your hearts, make a donation and talk with your kids about why it's important to support things we care about. Or send the kids on a mission to find all the loose change in the house and car to start a "Make Change" piggy bank (decorate a shoe box or coffee can). Plan on continuing to fill your Make Change bank over the months to then make a big donation at the end of the year.
2. Help out a neighbor: Is there an elderly neighbor down the street whom your kids could help? How about a new mom? Join your kids in baking a special treat, shoveling snow, raking leaves, cooking a meal or even delivering flowers to a neighbor who could use a hand or a pick-me-up. Let the kids brainstorm more random acts of kindness and write them down for doing the rest of the year.
3. Collect and contribute: Scour the house for gently used clothes, coats, blankets, toys, and books. Neatly box and bag them up and take your whole family to a donation center or local charity story to donate them. House cleaned out? Head to the grocery store with a list of items your local food bank is asking for (canned meats and vegetables, peanut butter, pasta, diapers, toiletries, etc) > shop with the kids and head straight to the food bank to donate the goods.
4. Write and Draw: Kindness in appreciation and saying thanks goes a long way. Whip out the construction paper, cards and markers and have the kids spend a couple hours writing thank you notes for local civil servants and non-profits; or have them draw pictures and cards for kids and elderly people in local hospitals and nursing homes.
5. Plan a service project: Perhaps the timing didn't work out for your family to serve together on MLK Day, but take the time today to plan a service project for the coming months. Whether it's an afternoon outing to volunteer at the food bank, connecting with a local no-kill animal shelter to schedule volunteer time, or simply planning your own neighborhood clean-up
The holidays boast a range of volunteer needs > from bell ringers to service project doers, from class party helpers to fundraiser volunteers, the list goes on. Boost turnout and participation with these go-to tips & ideas:
1. Use free online sign-ups: Set up an online schedule or volunteer calendar so the opportunity to sign-up and offer to help is more available to everyone during the hectic holiday season. 24/7 access from a computer or mobile device makes it easy for everyone to get involved, and automated reminders keep everyone on track. Try it for free now
2. Socialize your need: Spread the word about your organization's special holiday service needs - tweet about it, post on facebook, even Instagram and pin it! Don't have active social communities, connect with organization members who do and make them ambassadors of your message and opportunities.
Related: Tweeting for Help, 8 Best Practices
3. Don't forget about your website: Those volunteers looking to serve this season will seek you out - and they'll do it online! These are the folks you really want to capture and bring on board. Don't forget to put links to your online sign-ups right from your website. Display upcoming volunteer opportunities very visibly too along with contact info and links to social channels for new-comers to learn more.
4. Invite volunteers to invite others: The holidays are all about spending time with family and friends, and what better way to boost turnout for your holiday service project then to encourage volunteers to bring others with them! This warm introduction to your organization will encourage new-comers to return again on their own.
5. Be specific about what you need: The holidays can be chaotic so help your volunteers out by being specific about what is needed, i.e. exact dates and shift times, tasks to be completed, donations to be collected. People serve because they want to feel like they are helping others - giving them real jobs and goals helps them acheive satisfaction in making a difference.
Studies show time and time again how volunteering as a family not only benefits one's health, but helps teach compassion, empathy, communication and relationship-building skills. Kickstart your family's holiday season with a new tradition of joining others in service this National Family Volunteer Day!
1) Keep it close to home > find a service project or volunteer opportunity that means something and interests your family - get creative and find a way to volunteer your family hobby.
2) Ask others to join > invite neighbors, friends, classmates, and extended family to join in on the Family Volunteer Day fun.
3) Save time getting organized > Use VolunteerSpot's free online signups to save time coordinating and communicating a service project this season. Count on mobile access and auto-reminders to keep everyone on track.
4) Look online > Check out VolunteerSpot's Family Volunteer Ideas eBook for inspiration, and find ways to serve in your neighborhood, school, community, you name it! Also visit HandsonNetwork or GenerationOn for local NFVD opporutnities too.
5) Put thought into it > if your family decides to clean house and donate old items or canned goods, make sure they are worthy of donation, wash, dry and fold them - even contact your local food bank to find out what they are most in need of.
6) Try something you haven't done > Volunteering is often about stepping out of our comfort zones. Consider doing this as a family when selecting your holiday service project and encourage the kids to take the lead
7) Take something away > Follow up your family volunteer day with a time to set together and talk about the experience and what each of you learned and enjoyed
8) Don't keep up with the Jones' > How and when your family is able to give back is all your family needs to worry about. Your service project or holiday volunteer opportunity is unique to you, as is the experience. Put energy into making the most of serving others with your own children.
9) Take pictures > Where appropriate, take photos and capture those special moments of giving back as a family so it feels just as important as vacation.
10) Go volunteer > Don't plan on it but then get swept up in the busy holiday season! Make serving together as a family a priority - put it on the calendar, involve everyone and start a new tradition!
Using VolunteerSpot for all your GOOD work this holiday season is a given, but now it's even easier to save time and stress less coodinating the signups and holiday help you so need.
VolunteerSpot's brand new Quick Item Entry feature helps organizers build lists in minutes of all the items and things they need donated or contributed: Quickly organize:
Watch our quick how-to video below and click to set up your signup now!
Invite volunteers, family members and participants to sign up to help with a quick email invitation - or post a shareable signup link to your webpage, social accounts. Rely on mobile access, eCalendar sync and automated reminders to keep everyone on track! Get started now
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Save time and money (and stress less!) this holiday season with these top-rated apps and sites for busy moms!
1. Cozi Family Calendar: Performances, class parties, end of season celebrations, service projects, you name it - the list of family obligations really seem to add up during the holidays. Help keep your whole family on track with synced calendars, alerts & reminders, plus To Do and grocery lists, and more with Cozi's Family Calendar (iOS).
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2. Zulily: Save time scoring the cutest (and best bargain) gifts for your family and friends with daily deals on the Zulily app. With tons of great gift ideas, stocking stuffers, clothes, home decor, healthy and beauty products, and more, Zulily is your go-to shopping destination for the holidays.
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3. VolunteerSpot: Coordinate holiday service projects, potlucks, class parties, Giving Trees and more with free online signups and reminders. Save time (and stress) doing GOOD for others and give everyone the gift of time. Mobile access, eCalendar sync and automated reminders keep everyone on track too! Get the iPhone app free for the month of November 2014, click here
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4. RetailMeNot: Before your click to buy, check the RetailMeNot app for coupons, promos and discount codes you can use to rack up big savings. For iOS and Android devices, RetailMeNot's app is a must-have for saving big during the holidays.
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5. ZapVM: Share quick recipes, holiday photos, video from the tree lighting, the kids first snow of the season and more in a jiffy with the visual messaging app from ZapVM! Add voice over narration, stickers, and captions with their useful tools right on your iPhone; and privately send them to anyone you want (grandparents, friends, etc) via email, social media and more - no registration required!