31 days of Random Acts of Kindness

My Christmases lately have been amazing! We been blessed to have gifts stacked high. My kids are always happy to continue with our annual traditions of lining our sidewalk with luminaries on Christmas Eve, and learning about Christ's birth. But of course by December 26th, I'm always chomping at the bit to rip down the Christmas decor and wipe my slate clean of it.

If Christmastime is such a joyful happy season, then why am I so joyful when it's over? When I ask myself why, what comes to mind is: TOO MUCH. It's all just too much! My calendar is always jam packed with events promising family togetherness and good ole fun! There's nothing wrong with that! But you can't go empty handed to the family Christmas shindig! You must bring a plate of cookies! And I want to send out 100 Christmas cards this year, but that means 100 cards ordered and envelopes licked and addressed and 100 stamps purchased! 

So before December 1st rolled around this year, I knew I wanted to do something different. I wanted to make the season count in a way I never had before. My friend Lindsay Hardison started a Facebook page dedicated to doing service for others and then reporting about it. I hopped over to there to find ideas and came across a link to THIS BLOG detailing 'Random Acts of Christmas Kindness'. I knew this was for me and my family! This was our calling for the month of December this year. I went over to Lindsay's Facebook page and I posted a pledge for 31 days of Random Acts of Kindness in the month of December 2012. 

I would like to journal this, not to toot my own horn, but so that me and my children can remember the things  we did for others, and refer to it in years to come!

Day 1: Deliver cookies and smiles to a retirement home.
We brought 6 plates of cookies, homemade cards, and Christmas Bell necklaces and delivered them to some sweet lady residents of this retirement home. They were outside soaking up the sun and reading when we surprised them and their faces lit up when they saw my kids wanted to say hello and give them a homemade treat. Ethan was a little afraid at first, but he warmed up after he could see how happy they were that he was there. :) One of the ladies teared up when she realized what we were there to do. :)

Day 2: Pick Up Trash at nearby park
Several times a week, my kids play at this park just down the street from our house, and so we thought we'd pick up the trash we found there. My kids caught on after a few minutes and would yell "trash!" whenever they saw something! It became a race as to who would pick up the trash first!

Day 3: Give 'Smarties Awards" to houses with pretty Christmas Lights

I made a little card that says, "Thanks for being 'smarties' we loved your Christmas Light display this year!" and we taped smarties candy to the cards and then just put a few extra smarties in a baggy. Then we drove around our neighborhood and found houses that looked that the owners had put a lot of extra time into making their house look pretty for Christmas. Ethan and Ivy SO enjoyed choosing the houses to give the cards too. They would go knock on the door and give them the card. The homeowners were SO overjoyed to see two cute kids smiling at their door. 
One sweet lady that we delivered to just happened to be baking Christmas cookies when we came so she gave some cookies to my kids as well as a candy cane each. That sweet gesture made my kids feel warm allover and they felt happy to do something nice for her too!

Here's the card sheet I made, just click on it to get the full resolution image and print if you'd like!
On a side note, this morning Ethan woke up and asked, "Mom, what good deed do we get to do today?" I was overjoyed to see that he is catching on to our little plan and that he is looking forward to what's in store! LOVE IT!

Day 4: Deliver thank you notes and cookies to church teachers

I'm always thankful for the wonderful people who show love and care and kindness to my kids each week at church. They spend time planning lessons for them during the week, and pray for them. They welcome them with open arms when they come to class. Especially Ivy's nursery leader, Brother Asay. He genuinely loves being with the kids and you can tell! Ivy lights up when she she sees him! Neither of them were home when the kids dropped off the goodies, so they just left them on the porch. 

Here's the page I made for the kids to write/color on. Feel free to click to enlarge and print!

 Day 5: Suckers at the park!

We were out and about for Ivy's birthday yesterday so we brought some dum-dum suckers with us and handed them out to the kids who were playing. I made sure to get confirmation from the parents before giving them to the kids, and some parents wanted the kids to wait till they were done playing before eating their suckers. Makes sense, you don't want your kid to fall and choke on a sucker stick! But the kids were happy to get a special treat!

Day 6: Put grocery carts away

We've learned that you can do random acts of kindness wherever you are! Today we were in the Walmart parking lot and saw a few stray grocery carts around so we put those away. Then we decided to take it one step further, so we would find people who were putting their groceries in their cars and ask them if we could put their carts away for them. One sweet lady got this huge smile on her face and them she crouched down on Ivy's level and said, "Thank you so much!" She then pulled a dollar out of her pocket and gave it to Ivy. Ivy was so overjoyed. Another lady was limping as she walked so we felt happy to be able to relieve her of having to push her cart all the way to the cart return. 

Day 7: A gift for our mail lady

We're grateful to our mail lady, who delivers our mail each day in the SMOLDERING heat of Arizona. So we wrapped a gift and left it in the mailbox for her today.

Day 8: Tape Candy Canes in the toy section

What better place to find children than in the toy section of the grocery store! So we got a box of candy canes ($1) and taped little kindness notes to them and dispersed them all around the toy isles. The kids helped us choose where to put them.

To be continued tomorrow...

Day 9: Show support for a Family Member

My angel of a mother was invited to perform with her former singing group, Notations, for their farewell performance at the Mesa Arizona Temple. I am so proud of her for saying yes! We rounded up all of her kids and their families and went to hear her sing! It was a night to remember. They sounded so wonderful!

Day 10: Put money in slots at arcade.

 The kids enjoyed loading the toys and games with money. 

Day 11: Tape candy canes to ATMS:

We thought some people would enjoy a little Christmas Cheer while at the ATM, or perhaps they had kids in the car to share them with. :)

Day 12: Flowers to Primary Presidency

I couldn't help but tear up when I saw Ethan standing that the door holding these sweet little flowers. We delivered 3 sets to the president and her counselors of the primary. Ethan would say, "Thank you for your help in primary," as he handed them the flowers. It was very heart-warming.  The ladies were so grateful! One lady wasn't home, but she made a phone-call to Ethan the next day and told him thank you! It made his night!

Day 13: Cupcakes to kind friends! 
Our friends, the Oberly's, always do kind things for us. We spend time with them often and appreciate them as friends. We have since moved away from their neighborhood but they continue to invite us to things! We delivered cupakes to their home.

Day 14: Ringing Salvation Army Bells

I don't know why I usually walk past these people when I'm pushing my cart into the grocery store!?! This time I gave some change to Ethan and he was happy to put it in the slot. :)

Day 15: Hold doors open

We LOVE our gym Lifetime Fitness! The only problem? The doors are SO heavy to open! I guess they want you to start building the muscles in your arm the moment you walk in! The doors to the child care area are also heavy and difficult to open, so we stood at the door and held it open for a few minutes, with a smile.  A couple of ladies with strollers walked in, as well as lots of mommies and daddies with their kids. Most of them smiled and said thank you. :)

To be continued...

Day 16: Pay it forward!

I'm sad that I didn't take a photo of this, but I taught a lesson to my Young Women today on the topic of service. PERFECT! The lesson went great! At the end I handed out 16 treats with sweet messages attached for the girls. They were to give them to a friend at school who may be struggling and tell them, "Thanks for being my friend!" The girls were so excited about the idea of doing a good deed for someone else!

Day 17: Make a video interview for Grandpa Brian

My kids miss their Grandpa Brian who lives in Utah right now, so we wrote some questions down and did a little video interview with them! We asked questions like, "How old are you?" and, "What do you miss about Grandpa Brian?" Then we emailed it to Grandpa Brian so he could see how much they are growing!

Day 18: Make a video interview for Grandpa Steve

We couldn't leave out Grandpa Steve! He has spent a lot of time creating memories with our kids even though he lives in St. George, so we made a video interview of the kids and emailed it to him too.