Article Line Long1
Design

Giving Thanks (and prioritizing service)

Happy Thanksgiving, friends. I hope you are having a lovely day with your loved ones stuffing your faces with Turkey and stuffing. I’m up in Sacramento with my family having a wonderful week and feeling very, very grateful.

This time of year can easily become overwhelming with work, shopping, events, parties, decorating, etc. And while the holidays can feel like such a fun and warm time for many of us, the holidays can be especially difficult for some. There are so many people who are suffering, depressed, in need, neglected, and this year we (my family and company) didn’t do enough to help. I don’t need to explain to you how I should be grateful – you folks see my life. The guilt of my privilege has been at an all time high recently, and then even worse is the guilt of not having my guilt be as strong year round. I fear I’m failing myself, my community, and my kids by not making service a larger part of my every day.

I grew up in a small-ish town, as a member of the LDS (Mormon) church, where service and helping others is an integral part of the culture. My parents took in foster kids, we helped families move or paint their homes on the weekends, and created survival boxes for natural disaster victims or developing countries. It wasn’t about being wealthy and helping those less fortunate (we were a family of 7 living on two teacher salaries). It was wasn’t about assuaging guilt. It was just what you did – you helped people. I remember one time in my 20s when I called my mom from New York on a Saturday night, probably tipsy, asked her what she was doing, and she said, ‘Oh, just sewing quilts for Katrina victims, watching The Commish.’  They are those people. I take no credit for this – I was just a kid and doing what I was told and showing up to help when my parents told me to. But what is remarkable is how normal it became – how much a part of our every day (or week) it was. And it’s become clear that it’s something I’m missing in my adult life.

Of course I’m not suggesting that you need a church or a religion as your motivation to service (or be a good person in general). As I’ve gotten older and able to give more, I’ve tried to carve out a portion of my business/life to help others (the family shelter, Sylvia’s house, Miry’s list) but the last year I’ve just gotten too caught up. I’m ‘too busy.’ It’s like anything in life – you have to prioritize it to make it happen. Ideally you do it enough to the point that it really becomes a part of your life, and a part of your family culture. Donating money to causes and organizations you believe in is important and lovely (and sometimes the best option, as it helps fund those who have training to do work that maybe you don’t or can’t yourself like emergency response teams or doctors), but there are still a lot of opportunities to do physical service in our own cities. I think we have lost a lot of that ‘culture of service’ because our communities are different from how they used to be, especially those of us who live in large cities.

We don’t all attend the same church, school, or live in the same neighborhood so the opportunity for easily organized service projects is greatly diminished. We live in these micro-bubbles within a big city, and Los Feliz (my neighborhood) doesn’t have too much in-need.  And in our modern lives it’s very easy to become super busy, stay local to our tiny bubbles, and keep the overwhelming amount of poverty and gentrification happening in greater Los Angeles out of our daily line of sight. And the longer you go without seeing this, being confronted by it, or being directly affected by it, the less permeable your bubble becomes and the more you forget that it is a daily reality for so many that also live in your city, maybe just a few miles away. It should be a responsibility of the privileged to help those in need, not an option. We don’t just get to live in our bubble without stepping outside, seeing where there is need, and then sacrificing time and resources to help. And it’s especially important to be teaching this lessons to our kids. It’s not their fault that they aren’t being raised by service-oriented people like my parents (who are literally on a mission in Samoa right now, working with teachers on developing effective teaching methods). But as someone who believes that the best way to parent is to model good behavior, it’s our job to teach them service year-round and we shouldn’t need to rely on an organization (or a holiday season) to do that. We need to show them what it means to be a good citizen/neighbor/ally/person, right now. They aren’t going to pick it up from TV, read it in a book, or learn about it from their friends. You can’t tell kids how to be a good person, and no, it can’t be just once a year. You have to show what it means to be good, early, and most importantly, often. I’m talking to myself, here.

So we are brainstorming what we can do this season and carry into the year both as a family and as company, and I’d love both your help and input. I have some ideas for the year regarding service projects (still organizing, but stay tuned). But what do you do during the holidays with your kids to help others and teach them the principals of service? Our kids are obviously very young so their abilities are limited and their capacity of understanding the situation is not great. I also don’t want to do something they aren’t ready for just to make myself feel like a good parent. For instance last year we had Charlie ‘save’ money in a piggy bank from coins he found around the house, of which he barely did and I mostly just shoved my change in there. Then we went to the store to buy Sylvia, our nanny whom we love, a gift from ‘him’ and it really didn’t play out like I had fantasized. He wasn’t even 3 yet. We entered and he b-lined for the toys. I kept saying over and over ‘honey, what do you think Sylvia would really like?’ and over and over he insisted either a Spiderman or a firetruck. A tantrum almost ensued and I must have sounded like the most cloying, self-righteous parent ever. Then when I forced him to settle on a necklace that he had no connection to whatsoever, we went to the counter to pay with ‘his’ piggy bank. He lost all interest, ran back to the Spiderman and I just looked like the A-hole parent, shaking a piggy bank, trying too hard to teach a kid too young to think about others. He wasn’t ready and the whole thing was far more about me needing to feel like a good parent, than him learning the lesson of sacrifice and consideration. Parenting-fail. But lessons were learned.

We have some ideas of what we can do with the kids mostly about donating toys and helping bake, but I’d love to hear from more experienced parents or anyone, really, what we can do as a tradition to teach our young kids the importance of service.

What do you do?

Meanwhile for those of you in LA who are interested, the EHD crew and my family/friends are going to decorate the San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission Family Shelter for the holidays on Sunday, December 3rd, and anybody is welcome to come help. It’s truly an amazing organization that helps families rehabilitate from being homeless and gets them back on their feet. They teach parenting and personal finance skills, help parents get jobs, learn how to cook healthy, budget friendly meals, etc. It’s an incredibly important facility doing necessary work, that doesn’t get nearly enough attention or funding. Right now there are 36 kids and 10 parents living there. When we celebrated the opening of the shelter a few years ago Charlie came, barely a year old. He was a bit too young to understand what was going on, but I think he’s old enough to understand now – we’ve talked a bit about it and he seems to understand that some kids don’t have their own home, which upsets him. Teaching our kids about their privilege (and reminding us) in an environment that is both safe for them, and inclusive to everyone is important for them (and us). Service goes both ways, and while it should be primarily to help those in need with out need of reciprocation, it also helps us to tap into and cultivate that part of our humanity that easily gets shoved and covered while living in a busy, affluent, LA bubble. Service shouldn’t just be to check off that mental box, but to open it and have it be a part of our lives and culture, year-round. In case this feels like a lecture, again, I’m talking to myself here.

So I’d love to invite anyone to come help us on December 3rd from 10 am – 4pm (ish…if we have a lot of help it could be less and if we don’t have enough it might take longer). We’ll get tacos or thai food (my FAVORITE thai food joint is nearby), listen to holiday music, and trim out that lovely space with some of the best social workers I’ve ever met and some lovely families on the mend. Bring anyone – kids, friends, all are welcome.

Email us at hello@emilyhendersondesign.com if you are interested, need more information, or simply want to tell us how many you are bringing (so we have enough food!). Target is giving a $1000 gift card (Thank you!) but if you have leftover ornaments or holiday decor, or want to contribute anything let us know. Our goal is to make it dripping with kid-friendly joy and have it be something they/we can easily replicate year after year.

Happy Thanksgiving, folks, from The Hendersons. We are so grateful for the online community you’ve let us create and been apart of, and for letting me turn a hobby into my dream job. I truly hope to spread more joy this season and this year. We are excited to hear about some good kid-oriented (or any really) charitable holiday traditions. Please leave them in the comments…

0 0 vote
Article Rating

WANT MORE OF WHERE THAT CAME FROM?

Never miss a single post and get a little something extra on Saturdays.

110 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Esther Hundley Currie
3 years ago

Emily I think this is a great idea. My vote: CASA program. The LA foster system has a program where they pair a lonely foster kid with a volunteer adult called a CASA (court appointed advocate). It is kind of like big brothers big sisters but more intense– the CASA helps like a parent would, by advocating for them if they are struggling in school, attending education meetings, taking them on outings, etc. Sometimes kids in the foster system will be known by no one, abandoned by parents or orphaned. They literally have no one to call on holidays. (Can you imagine?) This CASA program allows them to connect with someone who voluntarily cares for them. Sometimes a kid will stay connected with their CASA long into adulthood. I have no doubt it has saved many from joining the sex trade and gangs.

If you’re interested, you can help with time or finances. Other areas outside of LA also use the CASA system.

http://casala.org

patricia blaettler
3 years ago
Reply to  Emily

For the holidays, it’s great to donate to a local group which helps kids who are aging out of the foster care system. They’re all on their own.

Sara Jackson
3 years ago
Reply to  Emily

Even if your current schedule doesn’t allow for you to commit to advocating for a child right now, you can become a “Friend of CASA”, serving on a committee and volunteering your time in a way that suits your talents, such as planning events, raising awareness, etc. 🙂 CASA is such a great organization!

Jillian
3 years ago
Reply to  Emily

Emily – Your local PBS station, PBS SoCal, has a social impact initiative dedicated to rallying support around the 55,000 foster youth in Greater Los Angeles. If you’d like to “meet” the CEO of CASA Los Angeles, here’s a quick video: https://tofosterchange.org/meet/community-stories/wende-nichols-julien-every-child-needs-an-advocate/

Full disclosure: I work for this station and am awed by their dedication to all children!

Christopher Zimmer
3 years ago

This is a great idea. I am so glad you posted this. I have signed up for an information meeting here in Long Beach. It seems they are in dire need of volunteers.

Lisa
3 years ago

At 61, and retired, I spent a lot of time thinking about this. I wanted to stay close by, and address issues I care about personally. So I volunteer to teach reading/English literacy in a nearby school whose attendees are almost all immigrants. Used to be Latino primarily. With the current policies, we see Pacific Islanders, African Americans, and East Asians. But all are under-resourced, and all are children.

One thing people with small children could consider is the elderly, particularly those with dementia. My mother has Alzheimer’s, but she has resources to be cared for in a wonderful place, and family nearby to visit frequently. Other elderly are not so fortunate, and, the women in particular, love small children. Often the care homes will have a little garden, or there is a park nearby. You might be able to keep someone company, light up an hour, and still care for your little ones.

Peggy Quinlan-Gee
3 years ago

While your children are still young, the year my son and daughter stopped ‘believing’, we decided to Santa others. They would decide on what they wanted to do in place of their Santa gifts. They bought items for a teenage homeless shelter one year, supplied our local no kill animal shelter another. They also have chosen a boy and a girl their ages in need and picked out clothes and toys for them. While they still received gifts that fit in their stockings, they understood they were blessed so much more than others and enjoyed thinking about what they could do for others at the holidays. We continued this tradition until they were adults. Whatever you decide, it will be welcome in this world❤️

Julie
3 years ago

Love this idea! Thank you so much for sharing!

Hannah
3 years ago

Our now five-year-old has for a couple of years really liked the idea of buying holiday presents for children who aren’t as lucky as we are. I pick out a few duplicates of toys we already have (so he won’t want to hoard them for himself!), and we donate them at Christmastime.

He also gets a tiny “allowance,” mostly so that we can practice dividing the money among three jars: money to save, money to spend, and money to share. Periodically we donate the “share” jar to a cause he chooses (from options we give him): so far, sick children (St. Jude’s), elephants (the Wildlife Conservation Society), and cats and dogs (the SPCA).

Susan
3 years ago

Such a thoughtful post- will be checking back in the comments for others’ ideas. I’ve sponsored a child through Save the Children for several years and often feel bad for not writing her more often. This year I realized I could have my almost 4 year old dictate a short note. (We had just gotten a letter and picture from her). I think he understood the basics of it and we put her picture up on the bulletin board after. The other thing I do is volunteer to take care of a flower bed in our downtown park and my son will sometimes come along with his shovel and clippers to help.

S
3 years ago

My kids always buy a gift for kid who wolf not recurve one otherwise, that is their same age and gender.
It forced them to give something that they would want to receive. Actually Jamba Juice has tags you can pick up. My kids like to imagine that child and we decide how best to put a smile on their heart.

Halloween just past, but our “candy witch” collects as much of their candy and they will give to kids who didn’t get candy. They leave it out in the porch. She comes at night and rewards them for their generosity, usually with books.

We also work a shift in the food bank each year and they always have age appropriate tasks for them.

Just a couple ideas.

Sarah
3 years ago

Something simple that little ones can do is draw pictures to be distributed with Meals on Wheels deliveries. Our local Meals on Wheels gratefully accepted toddler and preschooler cards. My kids were proud of their work, it was good handwriting practice for my older. We hope they brought some cheer to home-bound folks’ days.

Robin
3 years ago

Emily,
Thank you for the great post. It is always important for us to look back on what we give to our world. As a social worker I often feel I fail when it comes to doing for others that is not paid work.

Made me think.

Robin

Stacy
3 years ago

Beautiful words, I feel inspired to do more as well. We could all use some more love and spread love in this world. I have two children ages 3 and 1. We do not have any traditions yet, but I would love to hear some ideas on how to show my children to look outside of themselves. Thank you!

Chris
3 years ago

Our church does a lot through Samaritans purse and world vision. They do Operation Christmas child where you can put together shoeboxes full of goodies for kids in third world countries. Fun for kids to get into and participate. They also have catalogs where you can buy animals, clean water, and other survival necessities for families.

Locally (in the sf bay area) we have gone to give out bags of supplies to the homeless (with my 4 year old) and may also be helping serve at a Christmas party for an underprivileged community.

My husband also was able to help with some cleanup outside of Houston last month. It made for some great conversations with our daughter since she can understand a little but more.

Mary
3 years ago

I love this post! Here is an idea for keeping the concept of service in the forefront of little minds: give them counting beads to count ways they give throughout the day. Make a little string of ten beads that slide from one side to the other and every time they share a toy, help the family, be kind to a stranger, etc they slide a bead over. They get to decide what earns a bead and they get creative!

If you want a visual of what the beads look like here is a link from a religious website, but anyone can do it! https://thelittleways.com/how-to-make-sacrifice-beads

Gabrielle
3 years ago

Love this post Emily ?. And totally agree, about all of it, importance of service and lack of time ?. And modelling to our children. My children are now older, but they are actually pretty good , so am hoping we did something right. We have done a few things over the years. They get pocket money $1 per year ( their age) per week ( for generally helping around the house – they do heaps) and they decide how to split it into spending, saving and giving ( always have, ever since Charlie and Birdie’s age. They then decide how to use their giving money- they always find something. Each Christmas we choose a family to do a secret hamper for, a family in need and go shopping for it, food and presents, usually a huge box, then deliver it in secret. The kids love this, we don’t tell the family who it’s from. We organise working bees for friends if they have had a problem ( death, sick family member etc) and get all the kids to help, no matter how small, actually really fun, with a pot luck meal at the end. And now that they are… Read more »

Caroline
3 years ago

I’m in the UK. I give blood on Christmas Eve (and other times!) and take my son with me. It shows him about giving at a time where young children focus so much on getting.

DENISE
3 years ago
Reply to  Caroline

I love this idea! Totally adding that to the list.

DENISE
3 years ago

Same! Yes yes, me too … was all I said to myself as I read this. I can’t wait to see what other ideas everyone has and to see what you have planned for the New Year but here’s what I have going on in our family: With all of the recent natural disasters, we started watching Spanish-language TV news so we could see the devastation and narrate and control the message we wanted to deliver to our three year old. Like “they don’t have a bed to sleep in tonight” or “look at that man who is helping!” Then we asked him if he could help and brainstormed things those kids or families might need, collected toys and things, put them in a bag and delivered them to a charity. That worked really well because we kept talking about it for days and collected stuff more than once. Now with the holidays, we are participating in Baby2Baby’s family program and buying clothes and toys for a little boy my son’s age. We’ll shop together and then deliver the wrapped items together. I’m so excited! I hope we can find ways to do this year round. In our advent calendar… Read more »

Courtney
3 years ago

Thanks for this thoughtful post, Emily. One thing I do is volunteer with hospice. For an hour each week, I visit my assigned hospice patient at her care home. Sometimes we just sit side by side reading, sometimes we play “catch the ball” with the other residents, sometimes I show her pictures of my cat which makes her smile. The whole point is simply to be a friendly visitor for someone in the final chapter of their life. Another thing that can help people become more aware of volunteer opportunities is to follow the facebook pages of your local shelters or volunteer organizations. They will post what they are in need of year round, whether it’s time, donations or whatever else–and you’ll be reminded of it in your news feed. Easy. 🙂

Michela
3 years ago
Reply to  Courtney

Popping in to mention that volunteermatch.org is a similar idea. You create an account and search for volunteer needs in your local community: the neighborhood YMCA needs volunteers for a holiday bazaar or a local sports organization needs someone to man a sign-in table for a few hours. It’s a great way to fill a need, especially if you can’t commit to something at a scheduled time each week.

Thanks for your work with hospice, Courtney. We had fantastic experiences with my grandmother in hospice and I so admire those who volunteer there.xo

Erica
3 years ago

I love your heart and your blog, Emily!! I look forward to hearing the other ideas as well! We have 4 young children and deliver meals several times a year. We typically do a route that lasts less than 2 hours and has 8-10 stops. Often we get a small interaction with the person we are delivering to. We live in Atlanta and do it through a local organization (Open Hand – awesome organization). I imagine LA has meals on wheels or another meal delivery for elderly, sick or low-income. This is a good fit for us right now because all 6 of us can do it together.

Sara Kim
3 years ago

I love making and buying things for this- https://www.samaritanspurse.org/operation-christmas-child/pack-a-shoe-box/
I think it would be a great idea with kids to pack shoe boxes!

Jewel Kaste
3 years ago
Reply to  Sara Kim

We’ve done that for years and the kids love it!

S
3 years ago

For one of my kids thus was scary, but otherwise a sucess.

But a lot of flowers and dollar store vases. Make arrangements and plans to deliver them to an old folks home.

We did it monthly for awhile.

Jewel Kaste
3 years ago

Thanks for a great post, Emily! If we have time and leisure to read your blog, we’re fortunate, and I’m glad you took the time to remind us of the importance of giving out of our abundance.
My oldest is 20 now, but we’ve done a lot of things since my three were little: we’ve supported several children through Compassion International; we’ve each chosen animals to give to families in third world countries from Heifer; we’ve given people micro loans through World Vision and watched their progress and their businesses grow; we’ve bought lots of gifts for kids through Samaritan’s Purse and Angel Tree. But I think trying to give as a daily part of life is most effective: mowing single moms’ yards, giving a giftcard to a hardworking fast food worker, handing useful gifts to panhandlers with smile, befriending people who are trying hard but have very little. We fail to help so often, but we hope the times we do help make an impact on both the people in our community and on our children.

Chelsea
3 years ago
Reply to  Jewel Kaste

We sponsor a child through Compassion International as well and at Christmas we have each child pick something from the catalog (chickens,water filter,bike,vaccines, etc.) and spend some of their own money to help purchase it.

Michela
3 years ago
Reply to  Emily

We make homeless packages using advice from my uncle who is a career policeman: granola bars, water, clean socks are needed most. I keep everything in Ziploc bags in my trunk and put one in the backseat so I can easily grab it when need-be.

J
3 years ago

Grateful for your heartfelt message 🙂

Nicole
3 years ago

We collect hotel toiletries from our travels and shop to fill “homeless bags”. We fill gallon size ziploc bags with basic toiletries (shampoo, soap, toothbrush, tooth paste and lotion), granola bars, bottles of water, mints, chapstick. We do this quarterly with our 5 and 8 year old and keep them in our car so we are ready when we have the chance to give them out at a stoplight.

Michela
3 years ago
Reply to  Nicole

We do the same thing! Hotel toiletries is a great idea, though. Compact and economical. Going to do this next time we travel!

Arthella Starke
3 years ago

Your post is so good and especially touching for us. It was humbling and sweet. We loved reading your thoughts and so appreciate your wonderful attitude about serving and giving. Serving others brings great joy. I believe that’s why being a parent is so rewarding. We spend 24/7 in the service of these little people that we are charged in raising. Happiness in Life and love rotate around helping others and loosing ourselves.

Taylor
3 years ago

If you think it will not cause a meltdown, a really great thing to do with your kids is clean up for Santa. Have them pick out toys they are tired of playing with and take them to donate them at a local shelter. Seeing the way their old toys can make another kid so happy is always a great lesson on being thankful/blessed. It also helps you make room for the new things that will be under the tree this year!

jeannette
3 years ago
Reply to  Taylor

what if the kids in the shelter got the new toys?

Chelsea
3 years ago
Reply to  Taylor

Could also do this with clothes since our kids are always growing out of theirs and and it’s something other kids need year round.

Jennifer
3 years ago

Oh my gosh—Children’s Hunger Fund. It’s only about 25 minutes away from you, and kids of all ages can volunteer. Packing food & even toys for those in need all over the world makes a difference. Check out Childrenshungerfund.org for more details.

Lisa Samuel
3 years ago

Emily, I left a comment on Instagram, but I thought I’d leave more information here. We live in northwest Washington, and my husband and I have been working with the Family Resource Center at our local schools. They are an AMAZING team who reaches out to the families of all non-English speaking students and helps to make sure their basic needs are met, including beds (and bedding), a sofa and a kitchen table–the things that make a house a home. We own a furniture store and our delivery teams spends one afternoon each week helping to delivery and assemble furniture for these families (not furniture purchased at the store, but furniture that has been purchased elsewhere or donated). We’re also collecting blankets and bedding to make sure every child is warm this winter. Many of these families fled violence in their home countries and have never slept on sheets. Our little boy is almost two, so he’s a little young to help. But as he gets older, we plan to have him help us in this project (collecting items for families, visiting homes and any other service that feels age-appropriate). Since you are in the design/furniture business yourself, you might… Read more »

Kristen
3 years ago

Lovely and important post. Thank you. Check out https://www.justserve.org for local service opportunities. It is organized by the Mormon Church, but is for everyone. 🙂

Cara
3 years ago
Reply to  Kristen

Ditto for just serve. It’s a great resource for a variety of local service needs that range from simple to more time intensive. One of my favorites in our area is making birthday boxes for local kids in foster care.

Kathleen
3 years ago

I am a nurse at Children’s Hospital LA. Which is right in your area. There is lots to do for the patients and families that are there. Also with the Ronald McDonald house right behind. I am sure you could find some awesome things to do. Even partnering with target or someone to design or change some things at this Ronald McDonald House would be awesome!

Nicki
3 years ago

I will speak for myself and our family. We have one child. A son. He is 21 now but when he was little (before he started Kindergarten) he learned about helping others from watching his us. Just simple things like helping a neighbor who was ill or adopting a family for Christmas and so on. We give money to homeless people who ask. Some people don’t as they are afraid it will be spent on drugs or alcohol but we give regardless of what they spend it on. One time we were behind a woman and her child at the grocery store and she didn’t have enough to pay for her items. I asked if I could pick up the balance. Our son was with me and we talked about it after we got to our car. Then when he started school there were lots of projects to get involved in. Also, he joined Cub Scouts and ended up getting his Eagle Scout designation. He learned so much from Scouts and made lifelong friends. My husband got involved and took on various positions in their pack which was a great bonding experience for them both. They did tons of service… Read more »

Ashley
3 years ago
Reply to  Nicki

Yes! I love this! It doesn’t have to necessarily be an organized activity. If we pay attention, life gives us opportunities every day to respond to people in need. Most of the time we are too busy to see it!

Katie
3 years ago
Reply to  Ashley

Yes! Beyond formal volunteer positions and donations once per year, there are many small ways to model empathy and compassion everyday. Holding the door for people behind you, shoveling a neighbor’s walk, stopping to help someone who looks lost, thanking and being truly kind and considerate with store clerks, customer service operators, bus drivers… I think these smallest actions are crucial to service truly becoming integrated into family life.

Ricardo Lane
3 years ago

Cinemabox HD s the one app I would refer to even my parents. The app is simple to use, is comfortable to navigate through and is also very efficient at what it does. What it does is very well known. Not so well known is the fact that the app is free and secure. To know more about the application check out this website https://www.cinemaboxappdownload.co/cinema-box-for-blackberry/

Samantha Page
3 years ago

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family Emily! 🙂

Have a nice day.

Samantha,
https://bestproductreviewscenter.com/

Jessvii
3 years ago

I too am scratching my head for ways that my family can serve (my kids are 4 and 2). My church, for that matter, also seems to be struggling to find ways to serve the community – we had a lot of success with doing meals for kids during the summer (when the discounted school lunch for families in need program in our community is on hiatus), but that only really worked for people who could serve during business hours, which wasn’t the bulk of us. And now, in winter, we do food drives, but that’s just one thing. My 4-year-old is pretty good about giving gifts to his friends for their birthdays (and not being jealous that they’re getting a gift and he’s not), but I’m not sure what I should be during to further foster the spirit of generosity and service in my kids. I feel like if I just make acts of community service part of my life, they’ll soak it up, but there don’t seem to be a lot of options in the places I’ve looked for people to actually bring their kids with them. Also, I did not grow up in a family that did… Read more »

Ashley
3 years ago

Emily, I literally just had a groggy early morning conversation about this with my boyfriend. I’m a social worker and my career has been focused on helping the homeless, and it’s critically important to me that when I become a parent someday, I plant those seeds of compassion in my kids. I see parents all the time who have kids and go from being empathic, service-oriented people to having a singular focus on protecting their kids and giving them a comfortable life. Not being a parent yet I obviously have limited perspective on this, but I just desperately hope that I will not let fear or whatever pressing cultural norms are affecting parents these days keep me from exposing my kids to hurting people in this world. I’m not saying to send your kids off to play on skid row by themselves, but I think the way that you interact with homeless people will plant seeds of empathy and compassion in your kids. Greeting homeless people on the street, smiling at them, asking them how they’re doing, keeping protein bars or water bottles in your car to hand out–just treating them as human beings who are hurting rather than a… Read more »

Ashley
3 years ago
Reply to  Ashley

That came off maybe a little chastising to parents for caring about the safety and comfort of their kids. Didn’t mean it that way! Obviously I’m passionate about homelessness ? and can get a little fired up when talking about this issue.

Amanda
3 years ago

I just listened to the audiobook Barking to the Choir by Father Greg Boyle. He is a funny and warm antidote to the white wealthy “do something” impulse. I’m in the midst of a master’s in divinity program, and he is the best thing I’ve read so far (and it wasn’t for school). I cannot recommend this enough. I’ll also say that you and your family are certainly not alone. Many of us are rejecting (and some of us working to reimagine) religion’s role in our lives. It’s actually an exciting time in many ways. Peace!

Susan
3 years ago

When my twins were young, at Christmastime, we used to pick two kids ( twins=double everything lol) from the salvation army tree and buy everything on their lists. My two did ALL the shopping/picking out/wrapping; I think they were seven the year it all clicked, even though we started that tradition at age five. We had to confront the whole issue that year becasue my darling daughter asked me, out of the blue on a car ride home from school, why poor children were “bad.” I freaked out a bit and asked her where on earth she had gotten that information-to which she relied, “Well, Santa only brings presents to GOOD kids, right? If poor kids don’t get any presents then they must be bad a lot.” First, I thought, “Great. She’ll be a wonderful lawyer/engineer/logical geek when she grows up. But…OMG this thinking has to be stopped ASAP!” (Mind you, we are driving home from kindergarten when this convo took place) Then, in my best parenting moment ever, I explained that while yes, Santa’s elves MADE the toys, and Santa DELIVERED the toys, someone had to PAY for all those materials, and sometimes parents didn’t have enough money to… Read more »

Samantha
3 years ago

You write about this thoughtfully and with such vulnerability. Sometimes when fashion/shelter/beauty/lifestyle bloggers address this, the vibe is a little trite. Thank you. I’m eager to see what people suggest in the comments. Love you and your team. XOXO

Amy C
3 years ago

We are fortunate enough to live within walking distance of school and our local park. We pick up trash along the side of the road when we are on our way out. I’m hoping that this will develop that “its just what you are supposed to do” mentality in my kids. Our kids school also has a high portion of free and reduced lunch students. So when the PTA does a fundraiser that is kid centered (like if the kids bring in $1 they can wear a hat that day) we send in extra and tell them the can cover for someone who didn’t have it (for whatever reason). Sometimes its a kid who usually would have it but the lead parent is on a business trip, but often its a kid who is never going to have it. A few years ago we ate at Olive Garden on Christmas eve. A stranger paid for our meal. We are well off, but I think being the beneficiaries of generosity in that way made it seem for ALL of us that giving isn’t about US helping THEM, but that we are all in this together and you never know whose day… Read more »

Julie S
3 years ago

I’m glad to read these comments and think about this some more. I have two little girls, ages 1 and 4, and it bothers me that in this season of life I haven’t found more ways to be generous to the people and community around me. I want to serve others but find myself short on resources or freedom (health issues, working around nap times and meal times, having the kids with me 24/7.) Like some other commenters I didn’t grow up in an atmosphere of service and as an adult it’s been tough to make my own (faith based) convictions spill over into more than occasional actions now that these little ones are here soaking up everything I have. We do a few seasonal things and provide ongoing support to a third world child through Compassion but I want to make generosity and service a habit in our day to day relationships. Honestly my husband is much better at that than I am! My older girl is just beginning to understand about some families having less than we do, or going through a hard time, and our ability to help. I think as they get older there will be… Read more »

Nicole
3 years ago

For this year http://instagram.com/peoplehelpingpr would be a great place to start. People Helping Puerto Rico is holding an auction for Wings of Hope 12/2-12/3 to raise money to help provide roofs to the many people in Puerto Rico whose homes are still in shambles from the hurricane. Forget elaborate gift guides for Christmas, the people in Puerto Rico just want clean water, light, and roofs on their homes! Please spread the word!

Honour Del Crognale
3 years ago

This is so close to my heart! We live in a priveleged community and we have worked really hard to raise our two kids (17 and 21) to be givers and to be empathetic. Here are a few things we done, big and small, to help “grow” the helping spirit and sense of appreciation in our children.

Have them hand the tip and personally to the waiter or waitress and then thank them for the wonderful service. This really helps kids see servers as people and not just servants.

Prior to birthdays and holidays have the kids clean out their outgrown toys to donate to a shelter. If you can bring the kids to deliver them. It’s even great to do this on a regular basis – it certainly keeps the clutter down.

Take your kids with you when you visit a shelter – they can play with the kids who live there and see that rich or poor, we are all just people. The more we help kids see the other sides of life, the more they learn to think of things from perspectives other than their own.

Happy Thanksgiving!

ninadordev
3 years ago

Very good brief and this post helped me a lot. Say thank you I searching for your facts. Continuous it..
http://www.muslimmolana.com/hypnotism-specialist/

sanusaini154
3 years ago

When I feel board. Then I come on your blog and read some post which u have post recently..
http://www.lovespellsblackmagic.com/lottery-spells/

jeannette
3 years ago

thank you for all the light and charm you’ve brought to my life. i’m grateful. happy thanksgiving to you and yours and your excellent ‘rents. how would you decorate charlie’s and eliot’s bedroom trees for christmas in samoa? i bet it would be something like my blue bayou tree: mini ornament birds on clips, glittered tree frogs, scallop shells, white feathers, some green leaves, a sarong tree skirt, and a gauguin angel on top?
http://slideplayer.com/slide/8110698/25/images/2/37.+Paul+Gauguin.+Woman+with+Fruit.+(Where+are+you+going.+).jpg

Stephanie
3 years ago

What a wonderful post. I live in San Francisco and our local newspaper highlights a “Season of Sharing” fund and its recipients. Maybe there is something local to you and you could read about it to your kids? I like to give and do service locally so finding people in my community to help is key. When I was a child we would do a Christmas hamper through church for a family in need. Now the Big Brothers / Big Sisters has a similar program. I have also picked kids from the local Boys and Girls Club. They give you a little ornament with a picture and the child’s age/gender so you could take your kids shopping and they have a visual of the child while they’re picking out the present. I love the idea above of birthday boxes for foster kids. Definitely going to look into that as a year round opportunity. Happy Thanksgiving Emily and the EHD team, you are reminding me of everything I have to be thankful for.

Tawnya M. Kikawa
3 years ago

One of the things that I did with my church growing up tgatvreally touched me & had a great impact was visiting a convalescent home. We’re going to try it this year with some other friends with kids as we sing some Christmas carols dressed up in some red & green. 😉 Then we’ll have some time to walk around & chat with some of the patients. I’d love to do this more than 1x/year so that we can get to know them. ❤
Another beautiful thing that we just got to do was visit an orphanage down in Mexico. The kids were precious & it was so inspiring to meet the staff that constantly gives to these kids who have been through a lot thus far in their lives. Our kids are pretty young as well, & so we’ve barely started doing any of this as well, but so far it’s been so healing for all of us & I think for those we get to love on as well.

Chris
3 years ago

A pint size service project – making homemade cards and dropping them off with cookies or coffee at the local fire station.

Kathleen
3 years ago

When my daughters were school age they picked a charity on their birthdays and requested their party gifts go to the charity. As animal lovers this usually meant gifts for a local animal shelter. They enjoyed unwrapping their gifts and they enjoyed bringing the gifts to the shelter even more.

Jennifer
3 years ago

@beaconhomegoods in Temecula would love to help! Let us know what we can do 🙂 I just watched your instastory and am always looking to uplift and help❤️

Brittney
3 years ago

I know you don’t really associate with the LDS church anymore, but there’s the annual Christmas #LightTheWorld advent calendar that has 25 service ideas which are really really good. The full calendar is on the Mormon.org homepage 🙂

Katie
3 years ago
Reply to  Brittney

I recently came across the idea of a “reverse” Advent calendar. Instead of your children receiving a gift or candy each day, they give something. Collect items (canned goods, toiletries, toys etc.) and then donate to a worthy organization.

Jess
3 years ago

Will be joining you along with some friends (3)

Jess
3 years ago

Will be joining you along with some friends (3) see ya there!

Go To Top