If you’re participating in this week’s “Serving with School Supplies” challenge, I wanted to pass on a great resource. One of my favorite websites (and Facebook pages) is Clip with Purpose. These ladies are huge Operation Christmas Child shoebox packers, and all year long, they find the best deals on items that would be a good fit for shoeboxes. This week, they’ve put together a list of the best school supply sales that they could find. I’ll be hitting up Walgreens for the 39 cent scissors, and Walmart for the Dixon pencils priced at 20 for $1.
If you’d like to check up their great roundup, here it is.
And today, I had to drive downtown to my chiropractor’s office, and I kind of got stuck in the parking garage. For me, it was a panic attack just waiting to happen.
The garage was totally full when I arrived, which had never happened to me before. Luckily, just as I was starting to panic (I had no idea where else to go), someone left, and I was able to snag their spot. It was the worst spot in the parking garage – cars were tightly packed on either side, and a huge pole (and a row of cars) right smack behind me. But I didn’t care. I took the parking spot, feeling grateful, and hurried into my appointment.
But when it was time to go … well, I had a hard time backing out. Managing to maneuver so I didn’t scrape the cars next to me, the cars parked behind me, or the giant pole … I was so thankful that there was no one behind me waiting to get out. And equally grateful that there was no one watching my awkward 13-point turn.
Until suddenly, there was.
Suddenly, a man appeared in front of me. I was a little bit startled – I’d been so busy looking behind me and to the sides, I hadn’t even noticed him walking toward me. I wasn’t sure what he wanted – until he began to wave me forward, a big smile on his face.
That kind man – a total stranger – helped guide me out of my precarious parking space and sent me on my way with a friendly wave and smile.
I have no idea who that man is. The chance that I’ll ever see him again is very slim. But today, on Kindness Matters Monday, I am so grateful for him. I’m grateful that he took a moment out of his busy day to help a stranger, and that he did so cheerfully.
Happy Service Thursday, everyone! This week, we will be repeating a previous challenge. Normally we wait several months before repeating a service challenge, but this one … well, we’re running out of time.
This week, once again, we’re going to serve by buying a few school supplies to donate. If you haven’t read our first challenge, please check it out here.
For those of you in the US, I wanted to share a few of the best deals I’ve spotted this week:
* If you shop at Target, text SCHOOL to the number 827438. You will be sent a mobile coupon: if you spend $25 on school supplies, hand the cashier this coupon to scan, and you’ll get a free $5 Target gift card. A great way to stretch your budget!
* At Walgreens this week, Papermate pens are 29 cents for a 10 pack! This is about as low as I see pens. I stocked up this week! You can also get packs of erasers (15 caps erasers or 2 pink erasers) at 4/$1, compasses or pencil sharpeners for $.39, and protractors or index cards for $.29. (There are lots of other good deals this week, but these are my favorites.)
* Crayola crayons are on sale for $.25 this week at Kmart! This is as cheap as I ever see these. Limit 3 – bring a friend with you. 🙂
* Remember, you can price match at Walmart. But keep in mind that the brands have to match. If Crayola crayons are advertised on sale somewhere, you can match those; if a store brand of crayons are on sale, you won’t be able to.
So for a dollar or two, you can easily pick up a few extra school supplies to donate to a local organization … or to stick in your shoebox stash. My closet, once again, is getting full. And I love it. 🙂
What have you done to participate in our school supply challenge? What are you planning on doing this week?
Today’s Kindness Matters Monday story was submitted by … me. 🙂
So here’s the thing. (You know this if you’ve been around here for a while.) I LOVE Operation Christmas Child. It’s one of my favorite things in the world. Seriously. I love the idea of giving a gift to a child who has never had one. I love teaching my kids to think of others. And so every year, I pack boxes.
Last year, I was teaching a couponing class and I mentioned that one of the reasons I love shopping with coupons is that it allows me to pick up a lot of the items I need for my shoeboxes for free, or almost-free. I mentioned that my goal was 30, and someone gasped. “I made a shoebox last year, and I spent $40 on just that one!” I agreed with her that it could easily cost that much if you go out and buy everything at once. But since I’ve been doing this a few years, I know what “stock up” prices are, and that’s when I shop.
Fast forward to today. I stopped by Walgreens because they have unbeatable prices on many school supplies. (Remember, this is the time of year to buy school supplies!) One item I especially wanted: pencil sharpeners. They were on sale this week, and they are a nicer quality than the cheap dollar store ones that I’ve picked up in the past. I located everything else I needed, but no luck with the pencil sharpeners. But one of the employees came by at just the right time and helped me find them.
“How many do you need?” she asked me.
“Let me check the ad. … Okay, the limit is four. I’ll take four. Thanks!”
“Is that all you need?”
“Well, no. I need a lot. But four is a great start.”
“Really. How many do you need?”
“Well … 31.”
She stared blankly at me. I quickly explained about Operation Christmas Child, and how my goal is to pack 31 shoeboxes for my 31st birthday party in November. When I finished, she paused …
And started helping me count out 31 pencil sharpeners.
And then we started on the pens (at 29 cents per pack).
And the erasers.
Y’all, I got half of my school supplies purchased tonight. For 31 kids. For less than $1 per kid.
So here’s the thing. I normally am not an advocate of pushing the limits when it comes to couponing. But I know the stores in my area. The managers know me, and they have usually been very gracious about allowing me to get more than the advertised limit when I explain that I am shopping for items to donate (as long as I don’t empty the shelves). So it wasn’t a huge shock to be told that I could buy what I needed.
But it wasn’t just the permission.
It was the kindness.
It was … counting pencil sharpeners with me.
It was asking if I’d prefer black pens or blue pens or a mix.
It was taking the time to talk to me about this program that I love, and these children who I have never met … but who I love as well.
Tonight, in the school supply aisle of Walgreens …
Kindness mattered to me.
Has there been a time in your life when kindness has made a difference? I’d love to share your story as a future Kindness Matters Monday post! Please e-mail me at [email protected]
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?
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.
(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. 🙂 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. 🙂 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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 – and 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.
Thanks again for dropping by! If you have any questions, ideas, or thoughts, please leave a comment – I’d LOVE to hear from you!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.