12 Months of Kindness 2016 Update

Thursday, December 1, 2016

It's almost to the end of the year and we have had a very succesful time with 12 Months of Kindness this year.  With only one more act to go, I'm here with a recap of our year in kindness.

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.

May: For the eighth year in a row, we selected and awarded our Studer Scholarship to two CV seniors (our high school alma mater).  Brandon and I had ourselves a little date night at the Senior banquet and are inspired every single year by the amount of people from our community that give back to our high school seniors. 

June: To celebrate our new baby brother, we created Birthday Boxes and delivered them to an incredible local non-profit Alleghenies Unlimited Care Providers who work towards giving independence to people of all abilities.   

July October: We postponed our annual Studer's Invitational Beer Olympics (the 8th!) until October to give our family some time to get back on track during our Rusty's rotten first 8 weeks.  But we were ready to host our event come October and had a great turnout.  As always, our friends and family astound us in their generosity and enthusiasm towards having fun for a good cause.  We were able to raise over $360 for a local family who inspires so many people in their kindness towards other and perserverance in the face a challenges.  

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. 

September: We donated a backpack filled with extra school supplies to Greyson's school discreetly at the beginning of the school year.  We dropped it off with the guidance office as a just-in-case another student would need it at anytime during the school year. 


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. 

December: Start the 'white envelope' gift tradition in our home.  Brandon is in charge of this one all on his own and I can't wait to see what he comes up with.  Since starting his new job, we are really sticking to our budget and so we've started with a dollar amount of zero in the White Envelope giving box on our Christmas budget.  So, I've been searching for coupons and codes to get our holiday shopping done, and each time I'm able to save a few dollars somewhere, I've been moving the savings down into the giving area - and so far we're up to $30 dollars!  

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.  

 The kids and I attend our local Empty Bowls event that was put on by a high school key club to help battle hunger in our community.  We treated it like a little date a few weeks before our newest baby arrived and the kids to this day still love using their own special pottery bowls that we picked out at the event.  Each time we use them we're reminded that so many people are not as blessed to have bowls as full as ours.

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. 

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