Category: Weekly Service Challenge

It’s My Birthday!

So you know how some people are like, “Yeah, it’s my birthday. No biggie. Let’s not talk about it.”

Yup. That’s me.

Only the opposite.

Tomorrow is my birthday, and for years, I’ve wanted to do something like Robyn from The Birthday Project. On her 38th birthday, she completed 38 random acts of kindness for strangers. Friends and family joined in, and the idea spread like wildfire. Countless people celebrated that day by being kind to strangers.

What an amazing day.

I haven’t attempted this on my birthday because it’s pretty busy packing shoeboxes. But this year, I thought I’d try.

And I’d love your help.

Birthday Acts of Kindness

Do you remember in May, how we joined together for the Random Acts of Kindness challenge? Together, we completed 65 acts of kindness for strangers. It was a wonderful day. And tomorrow, I’d like to do it again. Will you help me try to hit my big, crazy goal of 100 acts of kindness?

There are only a few requests I have for this challenge. The first: Do something that you would NOT normally do. We’re going out of our way to bring happiness to the life of a stranger. And my other request: will you please come back tomorrow and let us know what you did? (You can leave a comment on the post that will be up, you can comment on our Facebook page, or if you want to be totally anonymous, you can e-mail me at [email protected]) There are two reasons for that. One, it’s awesome to learn from one another’s ideas. And two … there’s such an awesome sense of community that forms when people from all over come together to do good things. It’s amazing. And I’m SO excited already.

For some ideas, feel free to check out our original 100 Acts of Kindness Day results – there were SO many awesome suggestions from members of our Let’s Do Some Good Today community! Here are a few of my very favorites:

Sometimes when I’m doing something kind for a stranger, one of the most awkward things is explaining what I’m doing in a way that makes it clear that I’m not trying to get anything out of them. If this makes you nervous, this might help: Often I print off a little handout (like these free Butterfly effect printable tags) to hand out to people. So if you wanted to give a stranger a gift card, you could just smile, hand them the gift card and this little printable card, and say something like “I’m participating in a kindness challenge today. This is for you. If you can, do something nice for a stranger and pass it on. Have a great day!” Smile again and walk away. And that’s it!

Butterfly Effect

So how are you going to be participating in this challenge tomorrow? I would LOVE to hear! Thank you so much for celebrating my birthday with me, and thank you for spreading kindness!

It’s packing week!

If you’ve been reading here for long, you know that I LOVE packing shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. This next week (November 16th-23rd) is drop-off week! Just take your gift-filled shoebox to a drop-off location near you … and let the magic begin. 🙂 Seriously, this is one of the most exciting parts of the year for me.

This next week I’ll be packing 31 shoeboxes for my 31st birthday. Some churches and other groups join together and pack thousands. Many families gather together to pack one. And every single shoebox counts. Every one matters.

This week, will you join me and my family?

Family packing time

For ideas, check out our Operation Christmas Child database. And as always, please feel free to reach out to me with any questions – I LOVE to help.

Because here’s the thing. This writing business? It takes a lot of time, and it even costs money to do. And sometimes I get a bit worn out.

But when I get a comment like “Thanks for sharing! I’m going to pack a shoebox!”

That, friends, is my payday as a writer.

“I’m Thankful For You” Kindness Challenge

Last week, I told my 5-year-old son how much I love him. And I was delighted by his response.

“I sure love you. And you’re my favorite girl. And you’re my favorite … everything. Because you’re the best at everything. Except bad words. You’re not the best at that. But you’re the best at behavioring. And I just love you so much.”

I don’t think I need to tell you how happy this made me.

Because sometimes, in the middle of the craziness of life, we just need to be SEEN. We just need to be appreciated.

Thanks For Being You

We do a lot of kindness challenges for strangers, or for neighbors, or for those who serve us. But this week, I’d like you to join me in a simple service challenge. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we’re just going to let someone we love know that we’re thankful to have him or her in our life, and why.

A few ideas to get you started:

  • Write a letter and mail it. People love getting nice mail!
  • Leave a note on a mirror for a family member to find. Wouldn’t it be awesome to wake up and see “You are my favorite person. Have a great day!” when you go to brush your teeth?
  • Stick notes in a lunch box, inside a deodorant cap (I did that one when my husband was leaving on a business trip), or pretty much anywhere.
  • Jazz it up a bit by baking a favorite treat. Deliver it with a simple, “I wanted you to know how much you mean to me.”

Who do you know who needs to hear a kind word from you today? Who might need some appreciation? Take five minutes today to participate in our simple challenge and brighten someone’s day.

Because sometimes, we all need to hear that we’re the best at behavioring.

It’s Shoebox Time!

It’s that time of year.

And I am SO excited!

Packing a Shoebox

If you’ve been around here for a while, you know that Operation Christmas Child is a program that has captured my heart. Because … this.

And in two and a half weeks, collection time will be begin! People from all over will be dropping off their shoeboxes full of gifts to drop-off centers. Those boxes will head to a processing center for inspection. And then they will be delivered all over the world to children in need.

I have been hitting up clearance racks and rejoicing in back-to-school sales and using coupons of all kinds to prepare for shoebox week, and my shopping is nearly done. By shopping ahead, I am able to maximize my budget and pack many more boxes than I’d normally be able to do. But if you haven’t done any of this – there’s still time!

Shoebox pile

Just grab a box and start shopping!

If you’d like tips to get started, please look through our Operation Christmas Child database for ideas and FAQs. Or feel free to leave a comment here or on our Facebook page – if I don’t know the answer, I’ll find someone who will!

Remember, here are the basics:

  • Choose an age group (2-4, 5-9, and 10-14) for each box. If you’re undecided, the age group with the least number of shoeboxes is 10-14-year-old boys, followed by 2-4-year-old boys.
  • Fill up the box! Remember nothing perishable or breakable. In my boxes, I include school supplies, hygiene items (double-bagged), candy (double-bagged), a stuffed animal, an article of clothing, a small sewing kit, and whatever else I can fit in there! Balls, toy cars, stickers, dolls … it’s so much fun!
  • Drop off your shoebox between November 16th and 23rd. They ask for a $7 donation per box to cover shipping. You can use cash, or (my very favorite) donate online. You will be able to print a unique barcode to attach to each box, and you will get an e-mail letting you know what country your shoebox ended up in.

Family packing time

And remember, don’t be shy about asking for help! I have friends save shoeboxes, toothbrushes (from the dentist), Happy Meal toys, tote bags, and all kinds of things for me! And a few days after Halloween, I always ask my friends for any extra candy that they’re ready to get rid of. Fortunately, the candy that’s usually leftover is the stuff that’s PERFECT for shoeboxes! I made a little picture to share on my FB page – you’re welcome to use it, too! I’ll post it November 1st.

Leftover Halloween Candy

Okay – get out there and shop! Are you in?

Backwards Trick-or-Treating

The time has come.

Pumpkins are everywhere. Costume boxes have been taken down from the attic. Masks and capes and sparkly tiaras are in bedrooms all over America, and parents near and far are tired of hearing the same question: “How many more days until Halloween??”

Some people love this holiday, and I can see why. Some steer clear of it – and I can see why. But wherever you stand on the Halloween spectrum, it’s a fantastic time to spread kindness! And this week, that’s exactly what we’re going to do.

Backwards Trick-or-Treat challenge

So what is backwards Trick-or-Treating?

You go out. You knock on doors/stop by work desks/visit a nursing home/etc. And you leave behind a treat.

It’s so easy!

I love this challenge because you can customize it to your situation. Do you have young kids? Have them put their costumes on – they’ll love getting to wear them for an extra night! Do you know someone who could use cheering up? This is the perfect opportunity to stop by. Do you know someone homebound/in the hospital/in a nursing home? Go make their day! Want to be anonymous? Doorbell ditch a treat. And keep in mind, it certainly doesn’t have to be candy. If food allergies/medical conditions are present, you can drop off mini pumpkins, stickers and small toys (for kids), or even a handmade Halloween card.

And if you’d like, you can print off little tags to attach to these, especially if you’ll be doorbell ditching them! Here they are: Backwards Trick-or-Treat Challenge printable. (If you’d like this image larger/smaller, please let me know and I can easily make that for you. This printable has nine per page.)

So that’s it! Are you planning on participating? I would love to hear!

The Power of a Few Quarters

To ring in service Thursday, I have a little story for you.

Once upon a time (two months ago), I lost my everloving mind and agreed to host my daughter’s school book fair.

It’s been … an adventure.

We’ve been at the school an hour early and stayed an hour late (plus one evening) all week. My kids are exhausted. I’m exhausted. And not everyone has been terribly friendly. (Sidenote, y’all. Be nice to cashiers and volunteers. They’re people, too.)

So this morning, I was feeling discouraged and just wiped out. I tried to put on my happy face, but it was hard.

Some of my first customers were a brother-sister duo. She had a $1.99 item, he had a $2.99 item. He proudly handed me a $5 bill. I explained to them that there was tax added on top and that they’d need a little more money. I offered to hold the items until tomorrow if they wanted to bring the change then. The sister, without a single complaint, said, “No, it’s okay”, and reached to put her item back on the shelf.

Something about her quiet self-sacrifice touched my heart. I immediately decided to reach for my own wallet, and the volunteer next to me was turning for hers as well.

But suddenly, a hand reached toward me with a dollar bill in it.

Another child’s father, standing behind these kids in line, quietly stepped in and paid the difference.

It’s a small thing, folks. A few quarters.

But that little girl … that kind father … they made my day. They reminded me what all of this time and effort are for. And from then on, the smile on my face was genuine.

Thank you, strangers, for reminding me of the power of a few quarters.

So let’s take one more week and continue our fall service challenge. Let’s go and make a difference.

Your quarters? They’re powerful, y’all.

Ghost with quarters

The Kindness Ghost Strikes Again

Last week, the service ghost from last year re-visited for our weekly service challenge. And although I love the service ghost, I have given him a lot of thought … and I decided to give him a bit of a face lift.

Kindness Ghost

So here he is – the new and improved kindness ghost! And this week, he strikes again … with quarters.

The Quarter Challenge 015

Our service challenge is simple. Print off this printable version of the Kindness ghost (it contains the image shown above; there are four per page). Grab some quarters and some tape. And head off to spread a little bit of kindness.


The Quarter Challenge 026

There are SO many ways you can do this challenge, but here are a few of my favorites:

    • Visit a hospital and tape them on a vending machine
    • Stick some in coin-operated candy machines or toy machines for kids
    • Leave them in a shopping cart at Aldi
    • Load up a coin-operated washing machine in a laundromat

The Quarter Challenge

I love this challenge because it’s fast. It’s cheap. And it can make someone’s day.

Ghost with quarters

I am SO in.

Are you?

Second Annual “Service Ghost” Challenge!

Fall has come!

You know those people who just love autumn? The ones who are on Facebook rejoicing because YAY, it’s sweater-football-cider-scarf-hot-chocolate-not-a-million-degrees-outside-season?

Yeah, that’s not me.

Because fall means winter is coming, and winter and I … we don’t get along so well.

But whether I like it or not, fall is here, and that means it’s time for one of my favorite service challenges!

Service ghost

This challenge is simple: print off a copy of our service ghost. Do something nice for someone else. Leave behind the service ghost.

And then hopefully, it gets passed on.

So easy!

Here are our ideas from last year:

  • Create a “service ghost” for your household. When you find the ghost, it means someone has done something kind for you! (Completed a chore that you usually do, cleaned your room, made you a treat, etc.) Come up with some kind of “rule” for the ghost (such as, you have 24 hours to pay it forward to someone in your family) and set it in motion.
  • Drop off a treat or a small fall-themed gift (candle, pumpkin, etc.) on someone’s desk at work or school, or leave it on someone’s doorstep.
  • Find an act of service you enjoy doing (like the quarter challenge) and leave the note behind – this way you are serving people you don’t even know!

You can use this free service ghost printable (it’s a copy of the image printed above) if you want, or you can design your own if you’re crafty.

And here’s one of the cool things about having a website that is more than a year old: here is a message I got last fall during our service ghost challenge!

“Hi, I work in an elementary school office, this morning I came to work and there was a big plate of cookies waiting there, from someone who said our staff was wonderful…and your website was at the bottom of the note! Then I looked it up, and your name is Kimber too!! Just wanted to say, love your idea, and as the recipient of “some good today” I am thrilled and anxious to pass it on! Thanks for whatever part you played in our surprise! Kimber S.”

I had nothing to do with these treats – this was a project done by one of you. But it made my day to get this note! It is so exciting to think of people all over the world joining together to do kind things.

So what’s your plan for this week? How will you participate in this challenge?

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?