Empathy, Making a Difference

Service Birthday Party Ideas

Birthday Party Service Ideas

Celebrating birthdays is such an important ritual for children.  They love to gather with family and friends, eat party food, play games, open presents and blow out the candles on their birthday cake.  Some families are choosing to transition the theme of their child’s birthday from one of GETTING to one of GIVING.

Some families are asking for donations in lieu of birthday gifts for their children’s party. The child then delivers the items collected to the food pantry or animal shelter.  This is a wonderful concept but can be difficult for many children.  You may want to ease in to this concept with having a service project be an activity at the party or asking folks to bring a smaller gift and a donation from their cabinets for the local food pantry.

Here are some ideas that you and your child may incorporate for their next birthday gathering to spread a little love and kindness in honor of their special day.

For All Ages

Donate Items to Goodwill or a Local Shelter (one for each year)–Every birthday and Christmas, my children donate one item for each year they have been on this planet.   This practice of cleaning out their spaces and donating their gently used toys, books and games is so important as we teach them to let go of things that are no longer serving them.  My husband and I join in on this activity and since we are a bit older we include paper purging (catalogs, magazines and old bills) into our number.

Recycled Party--My son once had a birthday of all wrapped hand-me downs.  People brought gently used toys, games and clothing items as gifts.  Zach loved his “new to him” gifts and nobody had to spend any money.  It was a great lesson in reusing and reducing waste.

Food Pantry Party or Animal Shelter Party–Food pantries and Animal Shelters are always looking for non-perishable donations.  Asking guests to bring donations in lieu of gifts or a canned good with a small present is a great way to organize this party.  Make a collection spot where everyone can see the items. Have the children count the donated items at the end of the party and have the birthday child thank everyone and share where the donations will be going.  Make a big deal of the Donation Day for your child and make sure to take a picture of them donating the items to the pantry or shelter (send it to communityserviceforkids@gmail.com for them to be featured on our website).

4

Birthday Box Party–Not every child in our country has the chance to celebrate their birthday.  Consider asking party goers to bring the contents to make a birthday box in lieu of a gift.  During the party, the group can work to assemble the birthday boxes and your child can go and donate them to the local food pantry.  Check out our post on birthday boxes for more information.

Party with Seniors--Who doesn’t love a party? Many residents at your local nursing home would LOVE to celebrate a birthday with your child.  Contact your local nursing home and see if this is a possibility and if there are any food restrictions.  Invite some of your children’s friends, bring some balloons, games to play (they LOVE bingo with prizes) and bring some treats to share.  This is a great way to spread some love and kindness.

Book and Pajama Drive–Have each party guest bring their favorite children’s book and/or a pair of new pajamas and donate them to the Pajama Program.  For this party you could have everyone dress in their PJ’s, bring a stuffed friend (if they are young) and read your child’s favorite story to all of them.  Older kids can enjoy a sleepover party with this theme.

For Older Children

Sole Hope Shoe Cutting Party–Sole Hope is a wonderful organization that helps to make shoes out of old jeans for children in Uganda.  These shoes prevent the children from getting painful jiggers in their feet.  Jiggers make it difficult to walk and thus the children can’t perform their daily chores, walk to school or play with friends.  Organizing a shoe cutting party is a great birthday alternative.  Order the kit here, have everyone bring a $10 donation toward the shoe cutting kit cost and a pair or two of old jeans (no holes) .  Put on some music, chat while you work and think about all of the children you will be helping on the other side of the world.

7

Make Dignity Bags or Homeless Bags–Being a homeless has many challenges and homeless bags can make life a little easier.  These bags contain hygiene items, snacks, uplifting messages and so much more. Dignity bags can make life a little easier for homeless women.  Consider organizing a Homeless Bag party where everyone brings items to contribute and then you assemble them together.  Check out our post about Homeless and Dignity Bags here.

Blanket PartyProject Linus is always looking for blankets for children in crisis.  Making no-sew fleece blankets is a great project for a birthday party.  As host, you can provide the blanket materials or in lieu of gifts have each child bring the supplies they need to make a blanket.  This would be a great slumber party idea! Click here for more information.

Other Service Project Activity Ideas

Paint Kindness Rocks

Make placemats for Meals on Wheels

Paint pictures for Hospice

Make Seeds of Kindness

Have a Kid Knits Party

Empathy, Kindness

Project Seeds of Kindness

14

A few years ago my Kids in Service group made Seeds of Kindness.  After reading the book, Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed by Emily Pearson, I was inspired to find a simple way for the kids in my group to start their own Pay it Forward project.  

Each family was given this cute little smile bag that I found on Oriental Trading and some emoji magnets (also from Oriental Trading).  The kids made happy pictures with uplifting messages on them, “You are Special!”Thanks for Being YOU!” and enclosed the magnet inside of their folded up picture.  They were then encouraged to pass out their Seeds of Kindness to the people that they encountered over the summer.

15

Will you and your family accept this mission of KINDNESS?

Your Mission:  Create simple Seeds of Kindness to help brighten the day of the people you meet when you are out and about in the world.

Supplies:  paper, drawing materials, a bag to hold the Seeds of Kindness so you can take them on the go (a ziplock works great).

Optional Supplies: fun magnets, a dollar scratch ticket, single stemmed flowers, a happy eraser, a pretty stone, $5 gift card for a coffee (the possibilities are endless).

Procedure: Work as a family to create happy and uplifting drawings.  Everyone who can hold a crayon without eating it can participate in this part! Write uplifting messages on the drawings (You are Special, You are One of a Kind, Thanks for Being You, You are going a Great Job, Thanks for Being a Light in this World, Thanks for your Smiles etc.).  Fold up the drawings into small squares (“seeds”) and put them in a bag of your choice so you can take them with you on the go.

Optional:  Add a fun magnet, a dollar scratch ticket, a flower a happy eraser, a pretty stone or a $5 gift card for coffee or lunch to the seeds.

Keep the Seeds of Kindness with you in the car or while you are on the go and when you see someone who has gone above and beyond or someone who looks like they could use a pick me up, give them a Seed of Kindness.  Perhaps the mailman looks a little blue, the woman at the checkout was extra friendly or a mom with screaming children looks like she could use some kindness.  These Seeds of Kindness are meant to be spread around and given to EVERYONE.  My family loves to give them to the toll attendants (along with a $5 gift card at the Holidays) and their reactions are alway priceless.

featured, Kindness, Making a Difference, Pay it Forward Summer, Service Projects for Families

Art for Hospice

Make a Difference May

It is hard not to smile when you look at the children’s artwork on this page.  In January, our Kids in Service NH group painted cheerful paintings for the patients at a hospice house. Volunteers visit the residents and ask if they would like to choose one of our paintings to cheer up their room.  The painting of their choice gets hung on their bulletin board and it is our hope that everyone who visits their room is brought a little joy in a very difficult situation.

51070801_2509129122447855_8101478612944814080_o

This spring, we partnered with the hospice house again and painted small terra cotta pots.  I sealed each one with glaze and then we planted a flower in each pot.  The 20 pots were delivered to the patients staying at the hospice house and other hospice patients around the community.

Make a Difference May-11

Creating artwork to cheer up hospice patients is a WONDERFUL service project for all ages.  You could paint uplifting paintings, make blank greeting cards with the children’s drawings on the front or paint pots like we did.  I recommend that you reach out to the volunteer coordinator at your local hospice house and see if they would like children’s art donations.

Hospice is a very difficult and sad concept for young children.  I suggest that you tell your children that you are painting happy art for people who are sick in the hospital.  That is all they need to know to be invested in this project.  I am sure that their art donation will not only bring a little joy into the patient’s heart but the hearts of their family as well.

Blog, Incredible Kids, Making a Difference

My Two Incredible Kids

pay it forward summer (3)

For the past few months, Kids in Service has been celebrating all of the WONDERFUL service work that children around the country have been doing.  I love that we are able to highlight their accomplishments and hope that their work inspires other children around the globe.  Today, I wanted to take a minute to celebrate the two most important INCREDIBLE Kids in my life…my son Zach and my daughter Caroline.

We are a homeschooling family and as part of their portfolios, I write up an End of Year Assessment.  Over the past few weeks, I have spent a lot of time reflecting upon what the kids have accomplished during this school year.  Looking back, it is easy to see that this has been a Year of Service for our family.  Service learning is a valuable tool for all kids, no matter their age or where they go to school.  Learning to think about others, embracing diversity, learning about the bigger world and finding a way to help make a difference are important life-long lessons that they will carry with them into adulthood.

One of Zach and Caroline’s big service projects, happens right here in our home.  For the past 6 years my children have produced a community newspaper for friends and family.  They have over 40 subscribers, many contributors and put out 3 issues a year.  They charge a nominal fee for their paper but because of their generous subscribers, they have raised over $1200 in 6 years.  ALL of that money has been donated to 12 different charities.  This newspaper has evolved over the years and has become a community project.  I am so proud of how hard Z and C work and how careful they are to pick the charities that will be receiving the funds after each issue.

Outside of the home, Zach and Caroline have spent many hours this year serving our community.  It is not always fun for them but they show up and work hard until the job is done.  They have learned first hand about homelessness, compassion, drug addictions, diversity, poverty, empathy, hunger and gratitude.  I am so proud of them, the work they are doing and look forward to serving along side them, for many years to come.  They are INCREDIBLE Kids!

Kindness, Making a Difference, Service Projects for Families

The Brown Bag Project

1

Kids in Service NH partnered with Shepherd’s Food Pantry and St. Matthew’s Church for a once a month service project called, the Brown Bag Delivery Project.  Once a month, it is our job to help deliver the food that is collected on Brown Bag Sunday at St. Matthew’s and deliver it to Shepherd’s Food Pantry.  This project is PERFECT for ALL AGES and it is one that helps so many people in the community.

IMG_1518

Here is what Kids in Service Mom Kristen had to say about their experience:

Justin and I went to St. Mathew’s church on Sunday evening. He thought it was pretty cool because he got to wear pajamas (since it was so close to bed time). While we waited for the church service to end, we sat in the car and talked about what we were going to do. Justin was excited to bring the food to people who need some extra help. When people started to leave the church, we went to work! Justin liked using his “strong muscles” to bring the bags to the car. Justin and I made 4 trips back and forth to the car before 2 women noticed what we were doing and asked if they could help.  The two of them were able to pick up the big bin of food and make it to the car in one trip. Justin was very impressed and happy that they helped us out. We thanked them and took the food back to our house (leaving it in the car overnight).

In the morning we drove the food to Shepherd’s Pantry in the POURING rain. I have to admit I was not looking forward to unloading all of the food and getting soaked. But it turns out I didn’t need to even think about getting soaked. As soon as I drove up, three volunteers came to my car with shopping carriages and unloaded all of the food in just a couple of minutes! The volunteers were so grateful and kind to both of my children in the car. On the ride home Justin asked a few questions about why people needed extra help with food. It ended up being a great discussion and I believe it was a great learning experience for both of us! 

This project is flexible and you do not need a mini-van or a large SUV to participate.  With a little creativity, I know we could fit all of the food in my husband’s Toyota Corolla.  Most of the food is in shopping bags, which makes it perfect for little hands to help carry food to the car.  This project is a great opportunity to discuss all of the blessings that you have in your life and how important it is to share those blessings with others.  This is a very simple, family service experience that is FREE, does not take a lot of time and best of all it helps serve the community!!

IfuObqNdRqOZKw7b%Pt9RA

We were away Mother’s Day weekend, so I made arrangements with St. Matthew’s to come and get the food on Monday morning and we brought it straight to Shepherd’s Food pantry (this is an EASY option).  We left our house at 8:09am and were back by 8:40am!!  We have done this project two times now and it is always so much fun working together on a common goal.

If you and your family live in Southern, NH and you would like to participate in the Kids in Service Brown Bag Delivery Project, please email us at communityserviceforkids@gmail.com.

Food pick up can be done at St. Matthew’s on either Sunday at 7pm after the last mass or between 7:30-10:00am on Monday (you need to make arrangements if it is before 9am). Food drop off at Shepherd’s Pantry is on Monday between 6:30-10:30am.