Taking a look back at our list, we did not do so well in comparing it to what we had initially planned. The thing about gifts of time (although so important and my favorite) is that without a concrete event; it's pretty hard to track and keep ourselves accountable. So lesson learned for years to come.
The first part of our original plan was for three of the first four months to do things for/with people in our family (our parents, grandparents, and extended families). Gifts of time and extra attention. And although I can't think of any glaring particular things we did - I know we spent lots of time and made wonderful memories with them; all throughout the year. We have a lot of built-in family time already (holidays, fishing season, Grandmas & Kids NYC trip, birthdays, family reunions, parties), and some special family time too (baby showers, births, going-away parties, weddings, baptisms). The truth at the foundation of all truth is: we.are.infintely.blessed in the family department.
It was our 6th year choosing a high school senior for our Studer Scholarship at our alma mater this May. We selected two students to receive our award and scholarship based off of their essays that explained to us how they left a positive impact on the school, community, or friends while in school. It is always so refreshing to hear directly from the students about all the good that is happening. Young people generally don't leave status updates that proclaim they are mowing the grass at their church for free or cleaning up the little league fields with volunteer groups - but that doesn't mean it isn't happening! You just need to ask and you'll be happily surprised to hear all the good kids are doing these days!
June brought my first attempt at planning a 5K, which was exciting and scary. I worked with the Conemaugh Valley Alumni Association to set up a Superhero 5K and Family Fun Run/Walk to benefit the organization and school district. The 5K was just an out and back timed run - we even had some folks dress up like superheroes! The Family Fun Run/Walk was out and back with some added superhero obstacles! I was lucky to have the grandparents take our little superheroes while my husband and sister Tasha were geared up with bikes and supplies to set the whole trail up (luckiest girl ever that my family goes along with my wacky plans). We had a pretty good turnout for both events during the day and learned a few lessons for planning for next year too.
July always holds our biggest kindness event of the year, our Invitational Beer Olympics event. This year, it was co-sponsored by The Hunting Daddies and we raised over $530 to support the Hunt of a Lifetime organization.
While we were in the final few weeks before our new baby was to arrive, we made a trip to our local Humane Society to drop off treats and donations in September. Both of our pups were rescue dogs and we are so grateful that someone was willing to take care of them before they came to be part of our family. We dropped off the goodies and visited with the animals for awhile. The kids love visiting with them and we always make a little wish that they'll each find their family soon.
In October, we painted #tealpumpkins for trick-or-treat night and made sure to have halloween tattoos available to hand out for kids with food allergies. We also secretly dropped off treat bags with candy & a homemade halloween craft for our neighbors as a Boo! Surprise for them.
In November, we signed up to sponsor a kid through WorldVision. We chose to support a 4 year old boy named Raph from the Democratic Republic of Congo. We like talking about him and including him in our bedtime prayers. Raph's picture is hanging on our fridge and the kids love saying hello to his sweet face in the kitchen.
I also gave our annual contribution to Oxfam America. If you are still looking for last minute gift ideas, check out their Oxfam America UnWrapped page for amazing "in honor of" gifts that have printable cards to include to the recipient. My sis just was gifted one that informed her that books were donated in her honor to kids in need.
By December and the end of the year, I knew we were well behind schedule for our acts of kindness, so with the holiday season in mind - we are working to try to make up for lost months. We went big with #GivingTuesday this year and knocked three items off of our list: Purchasing gifts for our adopted family through the Salvation Army, Donating money to the Salvation Army through my sister's Red Kettle Lips campaign, and baking cookies with homemade thank you cards for our local volunteer fire department.
I also stopped by a local blood drive to donate in December. It was my first time eligible to donate again after being pregnant - so it felt good to get back into it again. I also learned about platelet donation, which I am considering doing once a month after February when Violet's nursing schedule is less demanding.
We enlisted the support of 16 young alumni from the past ten years of graduating and gave the students an opportunity to speak and ask question in a low-pressure atmosphere about what to expect for post-graduation. There was a lot of great conversations and connections made throughout the morning. One sweet student came back in before we left and thanked us for holding the event. She said, "Ya know, I thought this was going to be weird, but it turned out to be really cool."
We have one kindness (at least!) left before the end of the year, and that's visiting and dropping off cookies with our neighbors before Christmas Eve. Just a batch of cookies and chocolate covered pretzels separate us from that yet....which speaking of...I really should get a'bakin.'
I'm really looking forward to 2015 and the 12 Months of Kindness challenge. Even though our year wasn't successful month by month, it was an important year for learning a lesson about making more clear and trackable goals all through the months. Despite our challenges, we did still have a very kind year - always remembering that the place to start with kindness is at home in the way we speak and relate to each other.
Did you participate in 12 Months of Kindness? Or are you doing something big for the holidays? I'd love to hear about it - comment and link up below!!