Shoes for Shriners

Katie and Bryan, friends from a former church, recently reached out with a new giving project they are launching: Shoes for Shriners. Shriner’s Hospital for Children in Boston is one of the world’s leading centers for pediatric burn care. And, unfortunately, they experienced the hospital first-hand when their then toddler, Eden, was accidentally burned.

EdenIMG_2746

EdenIMG_2683

In their own words:

People come from all over the world to be seen at this hospital, and for good reason; the care is phenomenal. What’s more, Shriner’s does not charge its patients a penny. Not a penny, whether they could afford it or not. They only recently began accepting payments from insurance.

One of the beautiful things about this place is that they are committed to making patients – and their families – comfortable while they are at the hospital, and providing tangible goods to make the stay easier. Within twenty-four hours of our arrival we were given a bag with toys, some regular clothing, and a handmade blanket (which Eden still sleeps with every day at daycare). We didn’t know we “needed” these things, but the level of care and thought that they represented literally brought us to tears.

Shriner’s gets donations from many places, and they thankfully always have plenty of toys. But the one thing they always need is shoes. We see this need as an opportunity for our family (and hopefully some of you!) to serve a place that does so much good, that has done so much good for us in particular, and to help them serve and bless others as they did us not so long ago. We are all very excited about this opportunity, and we hope you’ll join us! But if you can’t swing it this year, no sweat, we understand! We plan to make this an annual tradition, so there will be more chances.

Click to read more about Shoes for Shriners.

How can you help?

1. Purchase sneakers in any size from toddler size 7 up (all the way to adult sizes!) and get them to Katie & Bryan by May 4 (Email them: shoesforshrinersboston@gmail.com for the mailing address.)

and/or

2. Donate funds which we will use to buy sneakers on May 4th/5th. Donations can be done through Paypal using the email: shoesforshrinersboston@gmail.com
They are planning to deliver the shoes to Shriner’s sometime during the first full week in May.

Kids Can Give: Project Night Night

KidscangiveThe boys and I recently had the opportunity to fill bags for Project Night Night, through our local parent group. We purchased items, then filled three bags, for boys age 4-4 1/2, which will be delivered to a local homeless shelter. I struggle with how to teach them about giving because a 5 year old can only do so much in terms of service. But this was the perfect giving activity for kids. While we stuffed the bags, we talked how they would be given to children in a homeless shelter, and what that meant. By the end of it, they were asking to give away their toys to the children, toys that were much bigger than the bags could handle. These are the moments you want to put in your pocket and carry with you.

Project Night Night

What is Project Night Night?

Every child who receives one of our Night Night Packages leaves the shelter owning a book which encourages reading and family bonding, a security blanket which can be cuddled, and a stuffed animal which can become a cherished friend.  We have one objective – to deliver our Night Night Packages to every homeless child in the country who needs one.

Project Night Night

In addition to the new book, blanket and stuffed animals, we included: washcloths, toothbrushes, toothpaste, colored pencils, and spiderman activity books.

Project Night Night

(Apparently my boys inherited my need to make a silly faces in photos…)

And then we prayed for each child that would receive a bag. We prayed that God would bless, protect them and keep them healthy. We prayed that the little boys would come to know and love Jesus and know how much they are loved.

Project Night Night

You can help!

Want to fill a bag for Project Night Night? Order tote bags here.

Easy Bracelet Tutorial for She’s Worth It

Remember how my friend Andrea (from TheTrainToCrazy) is not only raising money for women & girls rescued from human trafficking, but is also making bracelets and zippered pouches as a gift, as a way to show love and support? (Read more about the cause here.)

You are invited to help! Even if it is one bracelet or pouch or twenty, anything helps. Everything matters. Make because She’s Worth It!

Don’t know where to begin? Here is a super easy bracelet. You just have to wrap, cut and tie! Kids can easily help with this project. It is a great opportunity to start the conversation about giving to others.

bracelettutorial

Easy DIY Bracelet Step 1      Easy DIY Bracelet Step 2

Supplies: Thread (pick any combination of colors you like), a charm (I chose a heart so the recipient would be reminded of how much they are loved and valued), and a bracelet (found this at Joann’s in the jewelery supply section). To start, just tie the thread around one corner and start wrapping!

Easy DIY Bracelet Step 3  Easy DIY Bracelet Step 4

When you want to switch to the next color, just snip the first color, tie the two threads together, then snip the ends shorter. Keep wrapping and tuck the cut ends so you are now wrapping the second color over top of them. Do this whenever you want to switch thread colors.

Easy DIY Bracelet Step 5 Easy DIY Bracelet Step 6

When you get halfway, snip the thread (I kept mine long since I wanted to continue the yellow), put the charm on and keep wrapping. Tie off the thread when you get to the end. I made about 3-4 knots just to make sure it wouldn’t come undone. Cut the thread and you’re done!

Easy DIY Bracelet Step 8

Where do you send your completed bracelets? Email thetraintocrazy (at) gmail (dot) com for more information. She will send you details, including the address to mail you completed projects. Andrea will collect the bracelets and pouches and will mail them to She’s Worth It. Some will be hand-delivered in Cambodia in May, and the rest will be distributed by other organizations in partnership by She’s Worth It.

Don’t want to make anything? Please consider giving to the She’s Worth It Campaign!

Click the Donate button below to support this great cause.

Online fundraising for Team MAKE raising money for She's Worth It!

(Your online donations are secure and safe. They are also tax-deductible.)

The giving hearts of 5 year olds

My 5 year olds are really sweet. Wild, but loving and thoughtful boys.

We’ve done a few giving activities together (like this, this and this). So I was touched when one came to me with a leftover cardboard box, saying he wanted a bow to put on top so he could give it to his 8 year old cousin for Christmas. I asked him what was inside. A large silver ribbon bow that he been cut off of a Christmas gift the day prior. And an empty Tic Tac container.

He said the bow would look pretty in her hair.

And he liked that the container still smelled like the strawberry candies that had been inside.

God bless my sweet niece for smiling and thanking him when she opened this gift. A gift that others might think was trash.

Today, the same sweet boy came to me with another leftover cardboard box. He had stuffed it with an old toy cheerleading pom pom, telling me he was going to give it to his great-grandma this weekend at her surprise 90th birthday party. He wanted to make sure he had a gift for her, one that she would like. He even went into the basement, picked out the prettiest wrapping paper, wrapped it up and put a bow on it. Melts my heart.

A gift from a 5 year old

Amazed by his giving heart!

Christmas Giving with Kids

I’ve been on a quest to try to figure out ways to give & serve with the boys. The problem is that they are 5. And have the attention span and body control of puppies.

Every November I come up with a list of giving activities. I plan on doing  Random Acts of Christmas Kindness. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, read this post and this post about RACK. So inspiring!) And by this time every December, I feel like a complete failure for getting consumed with shopping, holiday parties, decorations, and of course sickness.

So far, we’ve enjoyed loving our neighbors by filling the Operation Christmas Child boxes., donating winter coats to One Warm Coat, and buying toys and food for Full Gospel Tabernacle in Far Rockaway, NY. But my favorite Christmas giving tradition that we’ve started is to walk around town center, delivering poinsettia plants. (And by “tradition” I mean that we’ve now done this two years in a row…) It all began with a poinsettia fundraiser for their preschool. But since we don’t need a bunch of plants, we decided to spread the love around town.

christmas giving

The boys decided to give their plants to the Post Office, the Police Station, the Fire Station (though it should have occurred to me that no one would be there since it is a volunteer department, so we left it by the door. They probably thought there was a bomb inside.), the town Cafe (the only restaurant in town), the Library and the Dry Cleaner (of course, so they could get lollipops).

It is such a small way to put a smile on someone’s face, and brings us even greater joy to deliver these. It was wonderful see the boys confidently and happily hand over the plants, saying “Merry Christmas, this is a gift for you!”

Maybe some year, we will be able to do daily Christmas giving. Or maybe I’ll take the pressure off of myself  to just enjoy the season,  give however we can and continue our giving activities throughout the year, instead of jamming them all into Advent.

How do you give with your kids during the Christmas season? I’m always looking for ideas and inspiration!

Help Full Gospel Tabernacle (Far Rockaway, NY) help their community

Remember Hurricane Sandy? Not that long ago, but for many of us, we’ve moved on. Maybe you lost power, maybe you were unaffected. But we’ve had Halloween, The Election, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, etc since the storm. Life has continued for many.

But the devastation is still very real.

In the sermon today, our pastor said that besides food and safety, people need to feel a sense of belonging and significance/love. That reminded me of what Full Gospel Tabernacle in Far Rockaway, NY is providing for their community. They are personifying God’s love and building their sense of community by providing food/goods while loving and caring for the needs of their neighbors.

Step 1: Watch this BET video featuring Rev. Vega from Full Gospel Tabernacle. I could not get the video to embed, but you can watch it here. Here are a few of my less than stellar screenshots…(clicking on each image will also launch the video).

Rev. Jorge Vega

This sweet woman is 95 years old, and has been without power since the Hurricane. Thanks to the generous folks of Full Gospel Tabernacle, she has food and blankets to sustain her. And better yet, she has loving church family to check in on her.

Taking “the church” outside the four walls and loving their neighbors. People have generously given, and the church members are working tirelessly to distribute everything to the rest of the community.

Step 2: Monetary donations are needed! Funds are desperately needed to help get Full Gospel’s food pantry up and running. Right now, they are running the food pantry outside so they need money to buy a new refrigerator, cabinets to store food, stock up on food, etc.

Send checks (made out to Full Gospel Tabernacle) to:

Full Gospel Tabernacle
361 Beach 42nd St
Far Rockaway, NY 11691-1208

(718) 327-2221

Step 3: Host a Holiday Drive for Full Gospel Tabernacle and their community

Items needed:

  • New toys: As you stock up on toys for your own children for Christmas, consider buying a few for kids who lost everything. All ages are needed, boys and girls. Dolls, books, backpacks. Nothing violent. And remember that this is a predominantly African-American community, so please attempt to represent the population, especially with doll purchases. Get your kids involved and make cards to go along with each toy purchased. Let the recipients know how much they are loved!
  • Food & Home supplies: Soups, beans, Canned Fruits and Vegetables, Rice, Diapers, wipes, paper towels, etc

If you live in the Boston area, please email me. I will be collecting items to give to Rev. Vega’s family members who will be delivering everything on December 15. Otherwise, mail service is up and running in Far Rockaway, so feel free to mail checks and packages directly to them.

Please help. Your gifts will directly impact a community that is rebuilding.

Give back this Tuesday! #Giving Tuesday

Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are filled with consumption. We overindulge with mass amounts of food and deals. So let’s give back on Giving Tuesday.

Volunteering is always great, but I know it may not be practical for some. So here are some other quick, kid-friendly and fun ways to give back this Tuesday.

Give Blood. Okay, the kids may not enjoy this one, but you may be able to give blood while they are in school. To learn more about where you can give blood, visit www.redcrossblood.org

Download the Charity Miles app and take a walk, go for a run, take a bike ride with your kids.

Charity Miles is an iPhone/Android app that empowers you to earn corporate sponsorships for charity by walking, running or biking.

Just choose a charity and press start. As you walk, run or bike, the app tracks your distance and you earn money for your charity. Bikers earn 10¢ per mile; walkers and runners earn 25¢ per mile, all up to our initial $1,000,000 sponsorship pool.

Go through your cabinets or stop by the grocery store and deliver food to a food bank. Or search for a local food bank via Feeding America.

Go to your local store and pick up medical supplies for Sole Hope.

I’ve mentioned the wonderfulness of Sole Hope before. They are always in need of donated medical supplies for their Foot Washing and Jigger Removal. Imagine the selflessness of washing someone’s jigger infested feet. Reminds me of Jesus!

Kids can help pick out the first aid items (listed below), help package them and bring them to the post office (field trip!).

  • Bar Soap
  • Sharpies
  • Large Safety Pins
  • Surgical Gloves
  • Cotton Balls
  • Medical Razor Blades
  • Medical Tape
  • Antibiotic Cream
  • Gauze
  • Band Aids

Mail them to: Sole Hope, PO Box, 1492, Asheville, NC 28802

Learn more about Giving Tuesday and other ways to give back on their website GivingTuesday.org.