January: We created and delivered blessing bags to our local soup kitchen. We put together six bags all together - three each that contained gender specific items. The kids liked packing the bags and then they were proud to carry them in and deliver them (during the prep-time) in which we requested the bags be given out as needed based on the regular volunteers thoughts.
February: We gave some love to a classroom through Donors Choose and were lucky to be able to support a former high school classmate in her elementary school classroom.
March: Our family volunteered time at the Johnstown Backpack Project to create weekend meal bags for local students in need. The kids LOVE volunteering at JBP and working in the assembly line style packing line. It is a wonderful organization that seems to be growing each time we visit.
April: We collected up our own gently used items and purchased a few new items to deliver Baby & Mom supplies to our local YWCA. We gave items ranging from maternity clothes to diapers.
August: We purchased and donated supplies to our local Humane Society and then made a little visit with the cats & pups who haven't found their forever family yet.
October: Our kids, along with my fourth and fifth grade CCD students participated in the Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF program and collected over $53 dollars collectively!
November: I participated in Giving Tuesday by getting my Spanish I classes involved! We spent a little time each Tuesday of the month talking about an orphanage,el Hogar de ninos Emanuel, in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Some of the students brought in donations for the children and on Giving Tuesday, we spent our class periods writing holiday cards & letters in Spanish to the kids. It gave my students a chance to showcase all the Spanish they've learned so far all year while also doing something kind for kids they may never meet in their life. I'll be giving the letters and donated items to a former classmate (thanks Amber!) and they'll make their way to Honduras before the holiday with the next group of volunteers.
We also did some kindness that isn't officially on our 12mokp list:
I worked closely with the CV Alumni Association (Brandon and my high school alma mater). We helped put together an amazing night to honor a longtime #1 fan of the school, I also helped organize alumni-led talks with high school seniors, and an alumni intramural group which included a summertime kickball league and a one-night cornhole tournament, both to raise funds towards supporting the high school. (and our annual Alumni Human Library event is coming up later this month - our 3rd annual!)
We ran in races that supported some great causes - like the Bunny Race that supported a local school district with our friends The Stahl family. Brandon and Greyson ran in the Little Indian Color Run to support Greyson's school's PTA, and Grey and I ran in the Great Santa Race just recently to support the Wings of Hope organization.
Speaking of races, we also spent the afternoon supporting runners in the Path of the Flood Race in May by creating inspirational signs, sidewalk cheering, and offer high fives. We stationed ourselves in a spot that was a little less than 3 miles from the finish line, so the look of relief and instant-recharge in the runner's eyes at our signs and clapping was awesome.
We try to give kindness out in little sporadic doses, things like leaving treat bags and notes for our mail lady, and offering homemade muffins and cookies to Greyson's bus driver (who is always so patient with our habitual lateness!)
We also try to participate in small events that come up as best as we can when we hear about them. We donated to The Big White Farmhouse Ashley's annual Pajama drive to support kids in need during these cold winter months. I also offer my time towards the Needy Children's Shopping Tour to act as a chaperone while the kids get a chance to 'buy' much needed clothes and winter accessories for the holidays. And as soon as I was able to again (postpartum) I started donating blood again. Did you know you can safely give blood every eight weeks? And it's free! I usually take at least one kids along with me (and once this year I brought all four kids with me!) and they call it "when Mumma gets her blood out." I'll be able to give again one more time before the end of the year! (ps. We're also registered organ donors and on the bone marrow registry list).
And we have our monthly financial commitments to both Oxfam America, which works together with partners and locally in more than 90 countries to empower people living in poverty. And to World Vision in our sponsorship of our sweet child, Raph who lives in the Democratic Republic of Congo. We just recently received our yearly check in update of Raph and he is doing great in school and is getting so big (he's six just like Greyson)!
The point of all of this - of this dedication to leaving goodness in our trail as we walk through each year is in hopes to inspire kindness, empathy, and goodness in these children of ours. Our hope is to raise children who have kindness and empathy as their knee-jerk reaction. To believe that kindness is not only the best choice but also a responsiblity. That every smile, every kind gesture is the way in which they can make an impact in the world in a positive way.
And that world can be scary and terrifying - and it has felt especially so this year, and I don't have any expectations to change the world. This was our whole year squished down into this one post and it sure feels good to see it all together, feels like we've really done some things this year - but know I also know that I am only one momma on this one mountain in this one state of this one country in the whole world. Only one writer in this one tiny space on the whole wide internet.
But we really do believe in kindness and the power of empathy, and so we keep going forward in our 12 Months of Kindness Project to keep our hearts and minds focused on the blessings in our life.
be kind, friends.
sending love to you always.