Month: July 2015

The Butterfly Effect

Welcome to Service Thursday! If you haven’t already read this week’s Kindness Matters Monday post, will you take a second to do that?

I’ll wait. ūüôā

Thanks!

So this idea – the concept of “The Butterfly Effect” – really resonated with me. Perhaps because I’m such a believer in random acts of kindness. (Remember our¬†Acts of Kindness Day? That was SO fun!)

I have another idea that’s been spinning around in my brain. I honestly don’t know how well it’s going to work. I DO know that it won’t work without your help. But if you jump in with me, this is going to be awesome.

Are you in?

Great!

Here’s my crazy idea. Let’s start our own butterfly effect.

The “rules” are simple. Just do an act of kindness, and leave behind this little card.

Butterfly Effect

(All you need to do it print it. If you’d like a full-page image, you can click here. If you’d like smaller images – this one prints four per page – click¬†here.¬†If you would like to participate and don’t have access to a printer, please leave a comment – I’d be happy to mail you one.)

Why are we leaving behind a card? Well, two reasons. First of all, we’re leaving behind a note¬†so that whoever discovers our act of kindness knows that it’s intentional. Once, trying to be nice, I left behind a quarter in our shopping cart at Aldi (for those of you who aren’t familiar with Aldi, the carts are coin-operated; you get your quarter back when you return your cart). Anyway, a very nice young man chased me down to let me know that I’d “forgotten” my quarter. ūüôā Leaving behind a note lets the recipient know that yes, this (fill-in-the-blank surprise) is for them. Because if my kids found a dollar in the toy aisle at the Dollar Tree, I would have them return it to management in case some poor kid accidentally dropped it. But a dollar with a card¬†attached, saying it was meant to brighten someone’s day … that would absolutely make my day (and theirs)! I’d let my kids spend it, and then I’d make sure we paid it forward.

And here’s the second reason I made these little notes. Because I’m hoping that as this spreads, people might be willing to “check in” and let us know. Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could track how¬†far our “kindness butterfly effect” travels??¬†What an amazing lesson that would be – to ALL of us – of how powerful kindness actually is, and what a rippling¬†impact it can have.

Seriously. If you live in California and do an act of kindness for a stranger, and that person goes on vacation to Vegas and does an act of kindness, and then THAT person goes home and does an act of kindness for his or her spouse, and then that person’s spouse goes on a business trip to Boston and does an act of kindness …

Okay, perhaps I’m a bit optimistic.

But doesn’t it sound like fun? To start a kindness avalanche and see where it goes?

So let’s do it!

To sum up our service challenge this week …¬†¬†just do an act of kindness for a stranger and leave behind this note¬†so they can see what we’re doing – and, hopefully, pass it on!¬†This post¬†has a lot of my favorite ideas, and this post¬†is full of fantastic suggestions¬†that have actually been done by¬†the members of our Let’s Do Some Good Today community! There are acts of kindness¬†for every budget, starting as simply “make a card for a friend” or “buy a candy bar for a cashier”. You could send an (anonymous) card to your neighbors, thanking them for keeping their yard beautiful. Leave a small gift for someone who is often unnoticed, such as a custodian or a behind-the-scenes employee. Send a gift card in the mail to someone who needs it. Pay for someone’s drive-through order or toll or parking meter. Whatever it is … find something that speaks to your heart and do it.

Start a kindness avalanche.

I am so excited to hear what ideas you have! If you’d like to leave a comment, that would be fantastic – I’d love to hear what you’re doing. If you’re planning on doing something for a friend who also reads this website, feel free to comment anonymously. ūüôā And if you have a moment – share this with anyone you think might be interested! Share it on social media. Print out a few extra handouts and pass them out to friends at Church, to classmates, or to coworkers. Get your scout troop or youth group or sports team involved. And let’s change the world, one act of kindness at a time.

RAKs

Kindness Matters Monday: The Butterfly Effect

Kindness Matters Monday

For our weekly Kindness Matters Monday posts, sometimes I like to share inspiring videos. Sometimes I like to share stories of ordinary people doing amazing things. Sometimes I like to share examples of ways that small acts of kindness can change the world.

Today, I’m doing all three.

Kindness Matters Monday

I’d like to tell you about my new hero.

Chris Rosati has ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease. This terrifying condition is characterized by the death of neurons. The average time between a diagnoses and death is 3-4 years. And during those years, those suffering from ALS lose control of their muscles, limiting their ability to walk, eat, and eventually, breathe. I don’t know Chris; I can’t presume to understand what a diagnoses like this did for him, a husband and a father of two young girls. But I can¬†see what he’s decided to do with his remaining time, and it leaves me breathless.

He’s decided to change the world.

I love this video.

I love the work that this man has chosen to dedicate the rest of his life to.

Because I believe in the butterfly effect. I believe that an act of kindness can truly change the world.

And I am so grateful for the reminder that no matter what our circumstances are, we can always, ALWAYS make our world a better place.

To Our Newest Community Members – Welcome!

If you’re dropping by from Scary Mommy¬†… Welcome! I’m so thrilled to have you here. I hope you stick around for a while!

Welcome!

Here’s a little bit about me. My name is Kimber. I’m a wife and a mom to two awesome kids. When I’m not busy having adventures with my family, I love to read, write, laugh with my friends, eat delicious desserts, pack shoeboxes,¬†and do nice things for strangers.

Because here’s what it all comes down to: I really believe that no matter who you are … no matter what your situation is in life … there is always, always someone that you can help. I also believe that people generally want to be kind and thoughtful and generous, but sometimes we need little reminders. So almost a year ago, I started this website. Every Thursday, I share a service/kindness challenge. Every Monday, I share a story reminding us that kindness matters. On my Facebook page, I pass along stories that inspire me. And on Pinterest, I share ideas of ways that we can make this world a better place.

The Quarter Challenge

If you’d like to join our little community, there is a place for you! Sometimes we do little things (like tidying up our neighborhoods, or – my kids’ favorite – scattering a few quarters¬†around town). Sometimes we tackle really big issues together (like homelessness¬†or slavery). But no matter what the weekly challenge is, I try to give you simple, practical, do-able ideas of¬†ways that you can make a difference today. It really doesn’t matter how much time or money you have. You can make a difference.

So if you, just like me, believe in kindness …

If you love hearing and sharing stories about awesome people doing amazing things …

If you would like ideas of ways that you can make the world a little bit better and brighter, one act of kindness at a time …

Jump right in.

You belong here.

Serving as friends

P.S. If you’d like to look around for a few minutes, can I recommend a few of my favorite posts¬†for you?
*¬†This is¬†my very first post.¬†It all started on the streets of Argentina …
* My friends and I planned  a baby shower for charity Рand we had SO much fun!
* This story¬†reminds me why I serve¬†… and why I to teach my children to serve.
* Sometimes, when it takes me a little bit of courage to do something kind for someone … I remember this. I remember that I. Am. Enough.
* And finally, my husband had the amazing opportunity to visit the boys we sponsor in Colombia. Here is his beautiful story.

Meeting the boys

Thanks again for dropping by! If you have any questions, ideas, or thoughts, please leave a comment – I’d LOVE to hear from you!

Serving with School Supplies

This week I began back-to-school shopping with my daughter. We walked around the store with our list, carefully selecting the pencils and crayons and fun notebooks that she’ll be using all year. Seventy-five cents for three erasers, fifty cents for a bottle of glue, seventeen cents for a notebook (except for the one with the kittens on it … THAT one was $1.99). All in all, we spent under $20 and left with most of her school supplies.

We put it in the cart. I paid for it. We left.

And that was that.

I am blessed to¬†have enough money in the bank that I wasn’t worried about seventeen cents. I wasn’t worried about fifty cents. I wasn’t even worried about $1.99.

But for many people, it’s not so simple.

There are children all over the world who can’t go to school simply because their parents can’t afford school supplies.

(That takes my breath away.)

And there might very well be children in your own community who don’t get a special shopping trip to prepare for the new school year. There is just. No. Money. No money for new clothes and shoes … and even more urgently, no money for the school supplies that they are expected to bring. For these kids, the first day of school will be something to dread. There will be no new backpack, stuffed full of everything they might need. And they know it.

Y’all … that’s not okay with me.

Not when the difference between an empty backpack and a full one is so simple.

So this week, for our service challenge … we’re going shopping for school supplies.

Serving with School Supplies

So here’s the first step in our challenge: Choose where you’re going to donate your school supplies to. There are many organizations that would love to receive them; here’s a list of ideas to get you thinking.

* Operation Christmas Child. If you’ve been around here for a while, you probably guessed¬†that this would be on my list. And if you’re new here (welcome!) … I love, love, LOVE Operation Christmas Child. If you’re not familiar with this program, I’d love to have you read this post¬†and consider starting a shoebox this week. There are three times of year when I do a lot of shopping for Operation Christmas Child – early January (when Christmas items are 80-90% off), July and August when school supplies are at rock-bottom prices (YIPPIE!), and in early November, when I fill in the gaps. But all year long my eyes are open … toothpaste that’s free with a coupon, an extra toothbrush from my dentist’s office, a coloring book on the clearance rack … it all gets added to my stash. If you would like to pack a shoebox, this week is a perfect time to start! For some kids in developing countries, a lack of school supplies is the only thing that prevents them from getting an education. So as much as I love to add toys and fun items to shoeboxes, I always, ALWAYS add school supplies.

* Homeless shelters. In my area, there are shelters for families, shelters for women, and even a shelter for homeless teens. Every one of them has school/office supplies on their wish list. For homeless kids who are heading back to school … for adults who are working on getting their GED … even for the busy office staff at¬†these non-profits … everyone needs pens, pencils, and paper. When I taught a couponing classs at a local women’s shelter a few months ago, almost all of the ladies in that room wanted to know how to save on school supplies. Even months before they’d need to buy them for their children, they were beginning to worry about it.
* Foster care programs. In my city, there is a great program to help gather school supplies for kids in the foster care program. If you don’t know how to get involved, do an internet search for “Foster Care” and your city name, or you can even contact¬†your local Child Protective Services. They’ll be happy to point you to an organization that would love your donations.
* A family in need. Do you know a family who is struggling financially? You can ask what they need – or just drop off school supplies on their door! If you do it this week, you’ll probably be able to get many items on sale. And just imagine the stress you’ll be relieving from that family over the next month as they know they don’t need to worry about back-to-school supplies!
* Schools – Finally, if you aren’t sure where to start, just call your local elementary school and ask what their needs are. If it’s a small school, they might know of a specific family who could use some anonymous help. (They can tell you the ages/needs of the kids so you can shop for them – they don’t need to give away any confidential information.) Or your school could tell you what general needs are. Do a lot of kids show up without backpacks? Are the teachers having to reach into their own pockets to buy art supplies? Have budget cuts limited the amount of paper that the school can provide teachers? I can almost guarantee that there will be an office member who would be thrilled to let you help.

Once you’ve chosen the organization you’d like to donate to, ask what their greatest needs are. And then … it’s time to shop! This can be as simple as adding a few extra school supplies to your shopping cart the next time you’re at the store. Done! But if you’d like a few budget-stretching ideas, here are my top five tips¬†for you:

1. Price match. Walmart will price match any advertised local ad. (Last year, Toys R Us had Crayola crayons on sale at 4/$1, but they were sold out. I went to Walmart and got enough for all of my shoeboxes!) If you have ads from several stores, you can get it all done at once. If you need help learning how to price match, you can see this post¬†that¬†I wrote for Today’s The Best Day on price-matching at Walmart. And as always, please feel free to comment with any questions!
2. Look at drugstores. This seems like a weird tip – drugstores are typically much more expensive than other stores. But I’ve had great luck getting school supplies there! For instance, this week at Walgreens (through Saturday, July 25th), backpacks are on sale for $2.99 (I’ve never used this brand, but I’ve heard they’re fairly durable), 15-pack cap erasers or 2-pack pink erasers are 4/$1, Fiskars scissors are $.99, and protractors and index cards are $.29.
3. Use Target in-store coupons. Right now at coupons.target.com, you can print off a coupon¬†for $2 off a $10 Up-and-Up school supply purchase. This is an easy way to stretch your budget. In the past, I’ve seen printable coupons for pens, hilighters, and even Post-It notes, so keep an on this page¬†if you’re a Target shopper.
4. Look at ads for office supply stores. If you don’t get Staples or Office Max ads delivered to your home, check them out online. There are often “penny deals” or
“quarter deals” at back to school time. Sometimes the penny deals will have a minimum purchase to qualify; that’s when I buy something I needed anyway (usually ink) and snag my awesome deals.
5. Involve your friends. Even if you have a $0 budget right now, you can still help with this challenge! Find a local place that needs donations, then spread the word. At work, at school, at church, among your friends … let others know what the needs are in your community, and start a school supply drive. We did this at church last year, and I let the ladies know every week what the best deals were. People were thrilled to be able to help with just a dollar or two.

That’s this week’s kindness challenge! I hope I’ve given you an idea or two that you can use. What are you planning on doing this week? I’d love to hear!

Kindness Matters Monday: 2 Pairs Each

For this week’s¬†Kindness Matters Monday¬†post, I’d love to share with you a new program I recently found out about. A family in¬†Victoria,¬†Australia has begun a fantastic project: they are collecting socks for the homeless.

Kindness Matters Monday

In their own words:

Imagine you are homeless and everything you own you can carry in a pack on your back or in a shopping trolley. You have one pair of undies, one pair of socks, no toiletries. Imagine how smelly and dirty your feet would feel. Imagine keeping on the same pair of socks, day after day after day. Imagine the sores that could develop on your feet. 
Imagine also if you had 2 pairs of socks and undies so that when you washed one pair, you could put the other pair on.¬†There are 23,000 homeless people in Victoria, Australia. Many of them have only one pair of socks and underwear. To begin with, I want to focus on socks. Imagine if this project could collect 45,000 – 50,000 pairs of brand new socks so that every homeless person could have at least 2 pairs of socks.”

I love to see stories of families working together to help those in need. Because if we want to teach our families to be compassionate, we need to teach them compassion. If we want children who look for opportunities to serve, we need to teach them how to seek those opportunities. And I’m so grateful to learn from families who are doing that!

If you’d like to learn more, or if this is something you’d like to do in your own community, you can check out¬†their Facebook page¬†here. I’m sure they’d love to have you drop by and ask questions!

This family is a great example of what we’re going for in this week’s¬†Serve with your Family¬†challenge.¬†How have you recently served? I’d love to hear your ideas!

Maxwell’s Soap Winner

Thank you all for entering and sharing! I turned to random.org to choose our winner. And the lucky comment is …

#6! “People making a difference ROCK!!! I shared on my FB page!”

Congratulations, Holly! Please e-mail me your address at [email protected], and I’ll pass it on to the awesome team at Maxwell’s Soaps.

For those of you who have not already checked it out, I’d love for you to take a look at our¬†Kindness Matters Monday¬†post and to learn a little bit about the awesome work that Maxwell’s soaps is doing for veterans and for the homeless in San Francisco. I love to see people who have big hearts and big dreams – and who then go and do something to change the world! And if you have it in your budget do donate a few dollars (or to donate $20, so you can try out some of the awesome shirt for yourself), that would be fantastic!

I did. And let me tell you what. It absolutely made my day.

Thanks, y’all!

 

Serving with your Family

I am thrilled today to have an awesome guest post from Holly of While I’m Waiting. For our¬†Service Thursday¬†challenge this week, she is going to give us lots of ideas of ways we can serve with our families. (I have a new idea in mind for my child who loves “center stage” …) I am so grateful for her creativity, her heart for service, and her enthusiasm to raise children who know how to serve (and who truly enjoy doing it).

One last reminder – tomorrow is the¬†last day to enter our¬†giveaway for Maxwell’s Soaps. Come¬†check it out¬†– it’s for a fantastic cause!

And now … here’s Holly!

 

Howdy! ¬†My name is Holly from While I’m Waiting…¬† My husband, Mike, and I have been married almost eighteen years and we have three kiddos – Colby-age 13, Holden-age 10, and Hope-age 4. ¬†We each have very different interests and hobbies but one of our favorite activities to do together as a family is volunteering!

A couple of questions I get asked all the time are 1) why do you serve so much, and
2) how do you have the time? ¬†I’ll share the answers to these questions and a few things I’ve learned along the way!

First things first: ¬†why do we serve? ¬†That’s easy – because we can!

If we want our kids to grow up to be leaders in their community, then we must set an example for them now. ¬†There are so many ways that kids of all ages can help! ¬†It’s also a fabulous way to raise awareness of the needs in their community. ¬†Kids that volunteer usually begin to show a greater interest in the needs of others because they see how they can help. ¬†But, one of the biggest reasons we serve is because it’s fun! ¬†We love getting a group of friends together and working on a project! ¬†Most of the time our kids don’t even realize they are “volunteering”!

While I'm Waiting...
Each summer our family volunteers at our local food bank.  This pic was from our first summer back in 2010 Рliterally, our kids have grown up volunteering there!

So, you’ve decided that you would like to give family volunteering a try. ¬†Now what? ¬†Start with something that interests your family and the interests of your kids. ¬†If your kids need an activity they could clean up a local park or re-stock food at a pantry or food distribution site.

While I'm Waiting...

If your kids enjoy more one-on-one activities, you could visit a nursing home and play bingo or work on crafts together.

While I'm Waiting...

Do you kids adore center stage?  Let them play an instrument, sing a song, or read to others.

One of the most important things to remember when volunteering with kiddos – try not to focus on what they can’t do. ¬†Determine what they can do and run with it!

While I'm Waiting...
Meals on Wheels recipients love receiving laminated placemats created by kiddos!

A few other things to keep in mind when volunteering as a family:
+ schedule time to volunteer – This answers the question “how do you have the time to volunteer?” ¬†Honestly, we don’t. ¬†The kiddos are each involved with extra-curricular activities and Mike and I enjoy doing other things too. ¬†But, volunteering is important to us and we found that we always find time for things that we really want to do. ¬†If we schedule our volunteer time like any other appointment, practice, or class then we will make time for it. ¬†Otherwise, it just gets pushed to the bottom of our list of things we would like to do.
+ choose a family charity – For us this was easy. ¬†Our favorite place to volunteer is our local food bank. ¬†By having this as our family philanthropy our kids are interested and invested in helping our community fight hunger. ¬†For you it could be Meals on Wheels, Habitat for Humanity, or the local animal rescue group. ¬†Find something that your family is passionate about and you’ll be more likely to stick with it.
+ use holidays as an opportunity to serve РYou can deliver handmade Valentines to your local nursing home, you can clean up a local park on Earth Day, or you can adopt a soldier and send them a box of goodies for the 4th of July.  The possibilities are endless!

While I'm Waiting...

+ think about how you can serve in your neighborhood РYou can water plants, sweep the sidewalk, pull weeds, or even walk the dog of a neighbor.  You can return trash cans from the street to each house for your block on trash day.  When baking or cooking, consider making extra and sharing with a neighbor or friend.
+ most of all – HAVE FUN! ¬†Invite friends to serve with you! ¬†You’ll make volunteering together a priority if everyone is having fun.

While I'm Waiting...
This is one of my favorite pictures! ¬†Hope was so tiny but she loved being able to help! ¬†Proof that you’re never too young to serve!

Before you begin a project, it’s always a good idea to go over expectations with your kiddos:
+ explain what you will be doing
+ tell them how long it will take
+ talk to them about the needs that this job will fill and who will benefit from their help
+ explain the rules that they must follow
+ be patient – it’s ok if your kiddo checks out after an hour of a two hour shift
+ talk to them and explain why this is important to you
+ tell them what you’ll do afterwards – CELEBRATE! ¬†We normally volunteer from 10am-12pm so lunch with friends is always a great reward for wrapping up another fun day of volunteering at the food bank!

While I'm Waiting...
Establish a donation box or generosity jar at your home. ¬†It’s an easy way to remind your kiddos to think about the needs of others.

And once a project is complete, ask for their feedback.
+ how do they think they made a difference?
+ what did they learn that they didn’t know before?
+ what did they like the most?
+ If your children are older, you can talk to them about additional ways they think they could help. ¬†Kids have awesome ideas that we don’t think about as adults!

While I'm Waiting...

Do you and your family volunteer together?  I love to be inspired by other families so if you have other ways that families can serve, please share with me!  And thank you so much, Kimber, for letting me share our passion with your readers!

For even more family service ideas, check out my Summer of Service challenge here! Each week I will share with you a new prompt for that week’s service challenge. ¬†Join me on Instagram and tag your pictures with #soschallenge2015 so we can share and inspire each other to leave our mark on summer 2015!

While I'm Waiting...

You can also follow me on Bloglovin’ so you don’t miss a post – it’s a super easy way to see what we’re up to while we wait… ūüôā ¬†I post a couple of times each week and also host a weekly link-up. I would love to have you visit!

Summertime is a great time to volunteer with your family – I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Have a blessed day! ¬†Gig ’em and God bless!
Holly

Kindness Matters Monday: Maxwell’s Soaps Giveaway

So you know how there are LOTS of opportunities to do good in the world?

And how usually you just think, “Wow, that’s awesome” … and move on?

But sometimes … sometimes you stop. Sometimes something really touches your heart. Sometimes you just HAVE to do something.

That was me this week. That was Maxwell’s Soaps.

The timing was perfect – as I began writing¬†this week’s Help the Homeless service challenge, I saw an awesome fundraiser on Facebook. It caught my eye. I stopped to read – and I was hooked.

See, there’s a cool veteran. His name is Max. He came home from the military, moved to LA,¬†and was horrified to realize how many people have almost no ability to get clean. In his own words, “I was infuriated by the lack of access to basic hygiene among the city’s homeless, especially marginalized PTSD-affected veterans. ¬†How could it be that a war veteran lives dirtier at home than at war?”

So Maxwell decided to do something about that.

He started a new company – Maxwell’s Soaps. As Max describes, “Combining a premium formula for soap with the cause we are serving is unlike anything on the market.¬†I’ve perfected my flagship product:¬†a premium goats milk glycerin soap blended with organic coconut. This creates a detergent-free soap base that naturally hydrates and softly exfoliates. My soaps are¬†scented with essential and fragrant oils to give an incredibly refreshing scent. ¬†“

Yeah. That sounds a lot cooler than my normal soap.

Max doesn’t just make soap. He provides jobs (his company is 100% veteran owned and operated). He gives back to his community. And right now, he’s doing something AWESOME. He’s started a fundraiser. The goal: $15,000. And with that, he will be providing 6 months worth of soap to one of my favorite organizations,¬†Lava Mae.

Now here’s the thing. It’s … soap. Normally fancy soap isn’t really my thing. Because honestly, I’m cheap. I buy whatever soap I can get for free (or almost free) with a coupon. I find a scent I like, throw it into my shopping cart, and don’t give it too much thought.

But imagine if you didn’t have access to soap every day.

Imagine if your opportunities for a shower were incredibly limited.

Imagine living on the filthy streets. Imagine carrying all of your possessions around in a backpack or a shopping cart and bring terrified to leave it because if someone steals it, you have just lost everything.

Then imagine stepping into a shower. And imagine using not just cheap, whatever-no-one-else wanted soap.

Imagine having a bar of luxury soap.

Imagine how clean you’d feel.

Imagine how pampered you’d feel.

I’d imagine that you just might¬†feel like a person¬†again.

And THAT, friends, is why I love this fundraiser.

It’s why I donated $20, and why I’m thrilled to receive my bar of soap soon.

And it’s why this week, I’m going to donate $20 more … on behalf of one of you.

Yup, I’m doing a giveaway. For a $20 donation to Maxwell’s fundraiser, a bar of his premium, veteran-made, amazing goat’s milk soap is delivered to you. So I’m going to pay the $20, and the winner of this giveaway will have the soap delivered to them after the campaign ends. And because he’s pretty awesome, Maxwell is going to make this even better by adding a shirt. So you get some awesomely fancy soap to use or to give away. You get a new shirt.

And homeless people in San Francisco are given their dignity back. One shower at a time.

I am so excited about this giveaway, y’all. First of all,¬†I think the soap sounds pretty amazing. When the fundraising campaign is done, I am thrilled to try it out. And I want to share that with one of you.

But much more than the actual soap … I am excited about this company and their vision.

I’m excited to hear about someone who sees a need in the world … and then DOES something about it.

I’m excited to learn about someone who proves, without a doubt, that¬†Kindness Matters.

And I knew you would be too.

So please, enter our giveaway. Share it with your friends. Let people know about this awesome fundraiser. Give others the opportunity to be a part of something awesome today.

Are you ready? Here’s how to enter!

This giveaway will end on Friday, July 17th at 10:00 PM CST. You can earn up to 4 entries for this contest. Please leave a separate comment for each entry. Thank you!

* Share the love.¬†Tell someone about Lava Mae and/or Maxwell’s soaps. Tell them in person, share it on FB, send an e-mail … let someone know about these awesome programs. (You can even find¬†Lava Mae¬†and¬†Maxwell’s Soaps¬†on Facebook!)
* Leave an encouraging comment here for Maxwell and his team. I’ve had the opportunity to chat with Maxwell a bit on Facebook, and he’s pretty awesome. And from what I can tell of his employees, they’re pretty awesome too. Leave a note for¬†these fantastic vets letting them know we appreciate them!
* Share what you’ve done, or will be doing, for the homeless this week.¬†Are you a part of this week’s¬†Help the Homeless¬†challenge?¬†Share your ideas with us!
* Share this giveaway. I have a post on FB that you can share Рor use whatever form of social media you prefer! Just be sure to link it back here.

That’s it, everyone! Remember to leave a separate comment (up to 4) for each entry. The winner will be announced by Saturday, July 18th, at noon.

4 Simple Ways to Help the Homeless

Sometimes for our weekly service challenges, I post things that I love doing and that are in my comfort zone. Thanking firemen¬†… hiding quarters¬†around town … these are things that come very naturally to me.

Other things are a bit more of a stretch. And sometimes, it’s good to stretch.

So this week, I’m reaching outside my comfort zone. I’m facing a problem that sometimes seems too big to face, and I’m inviting you to join me.

This week, we’re helping the homeless.

4 Simple Ways to Help the Homeless

Does this seem a little intimidating to you? Like this is a problem that’s so big, you don’t even know where to start? I understand!¬†But it really doesn’t need to be. Luckily for us, we don’t necessarily need to go out on the streets to find those who need our help. (Although if that’s your thing, awesome!!) Helping the homeless can begin with a simple phone call.

1. Start with your local shelter. If you’re not sure what the needs are in your area, this is a great time to learn! First, locate your closest homeless shelter. (Just do an internet search for “homeless shelter” and your zipcode.) Then give them a call! They’ll be more than happy to give you ideas. Perhaps they need donations, maybe they need volunteers for one of their programs. They’ll definitely be able to give you suggestions to help meet the most pressing needs in your community.
2. Choose a specific need. Homelessness can be an overwhelming issue, so if this is new to you, start by choosing one specific goal that you’d like to help meet. This might mean making blessing bags. It might mean handing out cold water bottles on a hot day. It might mean passing out snacks or gift cards to fast food restaurants. What tugs at your heart? Start there!
3. Advocate. Even if you don’t feel like you have enough resources to be able to make a difference, reach out! This can be as simple as sharing the wish list of your local shelter¬†on Facebook, or as involved as hosting a service party. I LOVED my baby shower for charity, and I’ve had several fun blessing bag parties. Many people are willing to help – you just need to give them the opportunity!

Serving with love
4. Donate. If you have limited time, but you have a few dollars to donate, you can absolutely make a difference today! Again, I’d recommend starting locally and donating to a shelter near your home. But if you’d like a suggestion, I love this cause¬†that I just learned about yesterday. This is a company founded by a veteran. They employ veterans. And they make a high-quality soap that will be donated to those in need in San Francisco. (Remember Lava Mae? I love, love, LOVE what they do. That’s where their soaps are going!) Your donation provides jobs, and it provides dignity. You can check out Maxwell’s Soaps’ fundraising effort here.

Those are my ideas. How are you going to participate in this week’s challenge? As for me, I’ll be making a blessing bag (I’ve given all of mine out – woohoo!), and I’ll make a small donation to Maxwell’s Soaps. I love their vision!

Kindness Matters Monday: Father/Daughter Birthday Kindness

This video has “Kindness Matters Monday” written all over it. Take a moment to watch it – it will do good things for your heart!