Month: September 2015

Making a Difference with a Vacuum Cleaner

I have an awesome friend named Amy. She and I grew up in the same area. She’s a wife. She’s a mom to three beautiful children. She is kind, she is strong, she is faithful, she is a warrior.

And right now, she is fighting breast cancer.

Kindness Matters Monday

Her Facebook posts bring me to tears. Sometimes, when I feel like I am having a tough day, I see a picture of her doing something simple, like helping her kids with homework, and I am completely humbled. I realize how hard these simple things must be to do while receiving chemotherapy. But she keeps fighting, and she keeps LIVING. I am so grateful to know her.

Last week, she shared this thought on Facebook. It has stayed with me. Today, I asked her if I could share it with you, and she graciously gave me permission.

“I am surrounded by the absolute BEST people out there. From family to friends to ward (church congregation) members, my little family and I have been taken care of beyond what I could have ever imagined. A few years ago I remember hearing a talk about service (and while I have searched for it, I’m coming up empty-handed). Anyway, one thing that really stuck out to me was that we need to stop telling people “let me know if there is anything I can do” and start offering to do something concrete. Earlier this week, I got a text from a neighbor (one I have never even met in person mind you), telling me how much she loved to vacuum and how she felt better when her floors were clean and asked if she could come vacuum my house. If she would have asked me if she could do anything, I never would have said “sure, please come vacuum my house!” But it was so easy to say yes to her offer to do something that I really wanted done and couldn’t do myself. I may think I have a lot to complain about most days, but I am seriously so blessed.”

This story amazed me. What a simple thing to do – and what an impact it made. I know that sometimes when we see someone who is going through a big trial, whether illness or death or divorce or any other life challenge, we do … nothing.

Why?

Probably because we just don’t know what to do.

And maybe because we feel like anything we do will only be a tiny drop in a big bucket.

But today, take a moment to think about Amy’s story. Think about someone in your life who needs your help.

Then don’t just say, “Let me know if you need anything.”

Today – show up and do something.

That something might be vacuuming or folding laundry. It might mean homemade muffins or a gift card to dinner. It might mean babysitting or yard work or an envelope with cash in it. It might mean a phone call or a text message, a Facebook post or a card in the mail.

Just choose to do something. Because what might, to you, seem like not enough … might be just what someone needs today.

Kindness in the Parking Lot

Busy.

That’s how I would have described my morning.

Very, very busy.

After getting myself and my kids ready for the day, I dropped my daughter off at her school. My son and I hurried to the grocery store. We hurried and did some shopping. And we hurried and loaded our groceries in the car. I glanced at the clock and realized that we had just enough time to get to preschool (his school, my work). I put the car in reverse, took my foot off the gas … but the car didn’t roll back as it normally would. Surprised, I checked to make sure I wasn’t still in park. Still in too much of a hurry to process what was going on, I wiggled a few things around and began to push down on the gas pedal.

“MA’AM!” I heard from outside my car.

Startled, and a bit nervous, I rolled my window down a crack.

“Ma’am, you have a flat tire.”

Kindness Matters Monday

I started blankly at the man speaking to me, a total stranger. Then, sheepishly realizing the reason that my car hadn’t moved when I took my foot off the brake, I turned off the engine, hopped out of the car, and looked at my completely flat tire. I tried to think quickly, but this man stepped in and did the thinking for me.

“There’s a gas station right across the street. If you head over, you can fill up the tire, and that should get you to a tire shop.”

I thanked him for his kindness and carefully drove across the street. I got out, fumbled through my wallet for a few quarters, and glanced down at my skirt and dress shoes (my work clothes), wondering what I’d look like when I was finished with this. Suddenly, I realized that there was someone standing next to me.

It was him.

“I’ll help you with that, ma’am.”

I was at a complete loss for words. I fumbled out a “thank you” and watched as he tried to fill my tire with air.

And then I watched, when that didn’t work, as he tried to put on my spare tire for me.

And then I stared in complete amazement when he realized that my spare tire was flat too, and instead of leaving, took both of my tires, put them in his own car, and drove them to a tire store down the street. He returned with two repaired tires. He put on the “real” tire and put my spare back in the trunk.

Now, those who know me know that I am not often at a loss for words. But I was completely stunned. To let someone know that there is a problem with their car is thoughtful. To try to help is kind.

To take thirty minutes out of your morning to make sure that a woman and her small child are on the road safely again?

Who DOES that?

My new friend Michael, that’s who.

“Sir – I don’t even know what to say. I don’t know how to thank you for your kindness.”

“It’s fine. I just … I can’t see a lady who needs help and NOT help her.”

All morning, tears were in my eyes as I thought of this man who I’ve never seen before and might never see again. His kindness touched my heart, and his simple words reached deep into my soul.

Michael, you might forget today. You might not think again about the woman you helped this morning.

But I won’t forget you.

I won’t forget your courtesy.

I won’t forget your coupassion.

I won’t forget the way I felt as I was reminded, once again, that there are good people in the world. They’re all around us.

And I hope we can all learn from your example. I hope that the next time we see someone who needs us, we will remember Michael and we will decide, “I can’t see someone who needs help and NOT help.”

How to Give Away your Birthday – or Un-Birthday – to Charity

Hey, guys. Not to brag or anything. Buuuut … today’s my un-birthday.

(Yours too? What a coincidence!)

Several years ago, when I came across this awesome post, I was intrigued. A woman decided to celebrate her 38th birthday by performing 38 random acts of kindness for strangers. She did all kinds of awesome things, but my favorite: “Bought a gift card for groceries and turned around  and handed it to woman in line behind me.  I wasn’t prepared for the look on her face. I immediately left before I started to cry.” Her acts of kindness idea began to spread, and now there’s a whole group of amazing people who have joined the Birthday Project movement.

Once I read this inspiring story, I knew I couldn’t wait the nearly 7 months until my birthday to do it. (Plus, my birthday is pretty busy – that’s shoebox packing party day.) So I decided to celebrate my half birthday doing random acts of kindness.

And that was it. I was hooked.

Something I’ve realized in the last few years: it’s awesome to choose a meaningful day (like a birthday or an anniversary) to serve and to spread kindness. But really, we don’t need a special day.

Today – right now – there is someone who needs you. Someone needs your kindness, someone needs your compassion, someone needs the empathy that you can provide.

So our service challenge this week: celebrate your un-birthday. And go do something kind.

The Un-Birthday Challenge

The first step: choose what cause you want to support. We have lots of ideas from past challenges – or, as always, follow your heart and come up with something unique.

* Serve animals in need
* Support a local shelter
* Do something nice for a teacher
* Get baking and serve like my grandma
* Do a random at of kindness from this list that we came up with as a Let’s Do Some Good Today community

So once you have your cause chosen, what should you do?

Well, it’s your unbirthday! Grab some snacks and throw a party!

Party food

(I’m serious.)

(Except your food doesn’t have to be that fancy. I am just lucky enough to have Pinterest-y friends.)

Serving as friends

An easy way to maximize how much good you do this week is to unite with friends. You can keep it very simple.Just reach out on social media, make some calls, send some e-mails, send some texts, chat at work or at playgroup or wherever you see your people. Let your friends know what you’re doing and ask them if they’d like to join you. Whether you provide all of the supplies or ask everyone to bring something is up to you. I have done this numerous times, and it has always been a blast! I have had blessing bag parties. I have had a baby shower for charity. I have had shoebox packing parties. And recently, I saw this fantastic idea from I Can Teach My Child: pack Birthday Boxes for children in need. So I let my friends know, and we had a little Birthday Box packing party. I bought some supplies, one of my fantastic friends went shopping and bought more, and we all got together to make the boxes. Each box included birthday cake mix and frosting, decorations, a few small toys (crayons, bubbles, etc.), and a handmade card that we left blank for Mom or Dad to fill out. Each box was simply labeled “Birthday Boy”, “Birthday Girl”, or “Birthday Kid”.

Birthday kid

I took these boxes to a local charity organization that provides food and other necessities to those in need, and they put them in the food pantry. When a child they serve has a birthday coming up, the workers will sneak a box to a parent. 🙂

Pile of birthday boxes

If you don’t have time or the ability to throw a little party, you can keep it simple and celebrate like Robyn in the original Birthday Acts of Kindness Challenge. Just go around and do good things. Put a quarter in a coin-operated candy machine for a little kid to find. Buy a gift card for groceries or gasoline and give it to a stranger (or just leave it behind with a note). If you feel a little bit weird about approaching a stranger (or if you want to be sure that the person who receives your act of kindness understands that it is, in fact, for them, no strings attached), that’s why I made these Butterfly effect printable tags for us to use. Just print, cut, and attach. Because if my kid found $1 in the store, we would be sure to return it to management in case someone came back looking for it. But if my kid found $1 with a little note attached, letting me know that this random act of kindness was meant to brighten my day – why, that would just be remarkable. It would brighten my whole week! And I would be sure to pay it forward.

Butterfly Effect

Note: If you’d like to participate in this challenge and are on a tight budget, there are still lots of ways you can participate! Just looking at the Birthday Boxes … I found crayons on sale, and stickers and bubbles on clearance. We made the cards ourselves. I used Shopkick to cash out for a free Target gift card to pay for the bins and the candles (you can read the article I wrote about Shopkick for Today’s The Best Day if you click here). You can ask friends for extra travel supplies leftover from hotels, and ask a dentist for a few toothbrushes, to put together blessing bags. There really are SO many ways you can make a difference, even if your budget is tight.

So this week, let’s celebrate our un-birthdays. Let’s celebrate life. And let’s join together and spread kindness.

(P.S. If you’d like to save these ideas for your actual birthday – awesome! You can pin this to help you remember.)

What are you going to do this week to participate in our kindness challenge? I’d love to hear your ideas and your stories!

September 11th Challenge: Remember Our Firemen

One of the advantages of this website being around for a year is that now I can begin posting “annual” challenges! And today, I am so pleased that it’s time for this challenge again. It’s one of my favorites. It makes me smile every time I do it.

And it makes me cry every time, too.

September 11th challenge

 

A year ago, I shared this story with you.

“But Mom – why did they crash those planes if they knew they were going to die?” my six-year-old asked.

How could I possibly answer?

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum with my family. I tried to turn it into an interesting and educational experience for my young children by explaining exhibits and allowing them to interact wherever they could. As we neared a large September 11th exhibit, I stopped them, knelt down, and began to prepare them for what they were about to see. Every September 11th, I talk to them a bit about what the day means to me, but it had been 11 months since we’d had that conversation, and at ages 3 and 6, I knew they’d completely forgotten.

“A lot of years ago, when I was still in high school, there was a very sad day in our country. Some very bad men got onto airplanes and made them crash into tall buildings. There were a lot of workers there, and a lot of people died.” Already the tears were beginning to come, but I tried to explain as matter-of-factly as I could.

“But Mom – why did they crash those planes if they knew they were going to die?” my six-year-old asked.

How could I possibly answer?

“Well, sweetie,” I began slowly, “Do you know how in our family, we don’t use the word ‘hate’?”

Two little heads nodded.

“It’s because hate is such a sad, sad word. It’s the very opposite of love. When we love someone, we do everything we can to take care of them and to make their lives better and happier. When we hate someone, we do whatever they can do to hurt them and to make their lives worse and sadder. And these men had so much hate in their hearts, they chose to kill other people, even though it meant they would die.

“But guys, that’s not what I want you to remember about that day. I want you to remember that there were some very, very brave people that day. I want you to remember them.” I took a deep breath and began telling them stories.

For the rest of the story, and to read the details of our Thank a Fireman challenge, please click here.

Mere days later, I was in New York City. We arrived the evening of September 11th. We saw the roses left everywhere. We saw the heartbroken people. We wandered through the memorial museum. We talked to survivors. We listened to final phone calls.

We looked a woman in the eyes as we heard the heartbreaking words from her husband: “He was my wife’s brother.” I hugged her, this woman I had just met, and we cried.

We remembered.

Remembering

We remembered people who we had never met. We remembered innocent victims. We remembered unthinkable bravery and courage and self-sacrifice. We learned their stories. And I wrote some of them down to share with you. Please, please, if you have a moment …

Remember with me.

So this week, we will visit our everyday heroes. We will bring treats and a card. We will smile, we will hug them, and we will thank them.

Because we know that these are the men and women who would rush UP a burning staircase to help me climb down.

Or even more importantly, to help my children climb down.

Saluting our flag

On September 11th, we remember the heroes.

And we remember our firemen.

Ladder 3

 

Will you remember with me?

31 Gives Winner

And the winner of our “31 Gives” bag …

-31 Gives- Giveaway

Comment #2, Hillary! “If I had $1000 to give to any charity it would actually be split between four charities near and dear to my heart: Make a Wish, Alex’s Lemonade Stand, Beads of Courage, and Bags of Fun. When my toddler was diagnosed with cancer almost 18 months ago it sent us on a Rollercoaster adventure. Two of the first charities we were introduced to were Beads of courage (a program that provides color coded beads that are going through chronic disease or serious illness to help explain and show every poke, test, surgery, hospital stay, etc) and bags of fun (a local charity that provides a backpack full of age appropriate “toys” for kids stuck in the hospital. My son was 18 months at the time and received several toys, a portable dvd player, a couple of movies, and a very nice backpack). Make a wish just sent our family on an all expense paid vacation to Disney world. It was an amazing, once in a lifetime experience that I will cherish, even if my kids were too young to remember it in the years to come. And Alex’s lemonade stand is a charity set up in memory of a little girl that lost her battle with cancer, and yet as she fought she set up a lemonade stand to earn money to donate to childhood cancer research.”

Congratulations, Hillary! If you’ll e-mail me your address at LetsDoSomeGoodToday.com, I’ll pass along your info to Amber! And thank you for sharing those beautiful charities with us.

If anyone is interested in purchasing one of these fun bags for yourself, or to give as a gift, Amber would be happy to help you! Her page can be found here, and you can e-mail her by clicking the link at the top of the page. Thank you, Amber, for hosting this giveaway for us!

Kindness Matters Monday: We Remember

In a few days, the United States remembers one of the most tragic days in our history. This is a day that is very pensive for me, as I’m sure it is for you. And so today, our Kindness Matters Monday story is a little different than most.

Kindness Matters Monday

Today, we remember heroes who ran up burning staircases.

photo 5

We remember everyday citizens who charged their own airplane into a field, knowing they were saving countless lives by doing so.photo 2We remember the volunteer firefighter who, as a teenager, once held up traffic because a mother goose had been run over by a car and he had to get her babies to safety. Even as a young man, he had the instinct to rescue and to save. On 9/11, after the first tower was struck, he was one of the firemen called to help rescue.

When traffic was so congested that his truck couldn’t get any closer, he headed on foot to the first tower.

This week, I choose to remember the heroes.

Will you remember with me?

“31 Gives” Giveaway

Edit: The giveaway has ended and the winner announced here. Thank you so much for entering, and for your thoughtful comments!

 

This week, I was thrilled to get a message on Facebook from a great friend, offering to personally sponsor a giveaway for us. I have had several people offering to sell here at Let’s Do Some Good Today, but just giving away something to one of you? Something that promotes an excellent cause? I was thrilled, and I hope you will be, too. I’ll let her explain it to you in her own words. Thank you SO much, Amber!

My name is Amber.  I have been a friend of Kimbers for many years.  More recently I have become a follower of her blog.  Even more recently than that I became an independent consultant with Thirty-OneWith Thirty-One we have a mission is to celebrate, encourage, and reward. Thirty-One has a charity called 31 Gives . We work with Girl Talk and Ronald McDonald House. We have special products that a portion goes directly to help and encourage others. I would like to reward a reader with one such product. 

-31 Gives- Giveaway
The U R U Collection is synonymous with the Gives mission to celebrate others for who they are, giving them the support and self-esteem needed to lead a purposeful, thriving life. Each product is personalized with an inspiring message on the inside, symbolizing internal beauty – U R Strong, U R Bold, U R True, U R U – encouraging all of us to be strong enough to be bold and bold enough to be our True Selves.

In February 2012, Thirty-One Gives launched to help Thirty-One Gifts to pay back the many blessings we’ve received as a company. We are dedicated to three key pieces of our heart – girls, women and families. Since 2012, Gives has donated $36 million in cash and product and touched 8.5 million lives.

Our Mission

We have a passion for serving and supporting girls, women and families. We believe strong, confident girls will grow up to become strong, compassionate women, who will be the driving force behind strong, healthy families and communities. Our mission is to celebrate others for who they are, giving them the support and self-esteem needed to lead purposeful, thriving lives. When we all work together and give a little piece of our heart, we can make a huge difference.

Did You Know?

  • A girl’s self-esteem peaks at age 9
  • Only 2% of women describe themselves as beautiful
  • 62% of girls are insecure about themselves
  • Less than 7% of national philanthropic dollars are for women and girls

3 Pieces of Our Heart

Girls, women and families make up the three pieces of our heart. We primarily focus our national giving on one national mission partner for each piece of our heart.

Girls: Girl Talk, Inc. is our mission partner aligned with our mission to build, strong confident girls.

 

Women: The Gives Care Council is working hard to identify a national mission partner who shares our mission to build strong, compassionate women.

Families: Ronald McDonald House Charities® is our national mission partner aligned with our mission to build strong, healthy families.

 

We are excited for you to learn more about who we support and ways to give!

Amber, Thirty-One Consultant

Mission of 31 Gives

Thank you, Amber! And now, the giveaway!

If you’d like to enter to win this fantastic URU Uptown Mini Pouch for yourself or for a loved one (hint, hint – Christmas is coming), you have three ways to enter. Please leave a separate comment for each entry. Giveaway closes Tuesday, September 8th at midnight CST, and the winner will be announced on Wednesday, September 9th at 2 pm CST.

  1. Leave a comment letting us know what you like, or what you learned from, the facts Amber shared with us today (or about this specific product).
  2. Share this giveaway on the social media platform of your choice.
  3. Let us know … if you have $1000 to give to any charity, where would you donate it?

Thanks for participating! Good luck!

 

Edited: The original post stated that a girl’s self esteem peaks at 91. The correct age is actually 9. Sorry about the confusion!!!

Take a Clean-Up Walk

Several weeks ago, reader Julie submitted an idea for our weekly service challenge: “The take-a-bag-and-go-on-a-walk challenge! Pick up any garbage/trash you see and throw the bag away at the park/home/wherever!”

And because she is so smart and wise and beautiful (plus also, my mom), I loved the idea. So that is this week’s service challenge. It’s simple, it’s fast, and it’s free!

If you have children, this is an awesome opportunity to have a discussion about being a good neighbor, about taking care of our community, and about why we don’t litter (it doesn’t just disappear). So this week, walk around your neighborhood, walk by the ocean, walk in the mountains, walk through a playground … just take a walk, pick up some trash, and leave a place you love looking a bit better than you found it.

For more ideas, see our Clean your Community challenge.

Make the world a nicer place to live

 

P.S. If you have any ideas for upcoming service challenges, please feel free to let me know! You can simply give me your idea, or you can write it up and submit a guest post. I’d love to hear from you!