Inside: Spread kindness as a family through this Family Volunteer Challenge for February by volunteering with these easy, simple family-friendly activities. This one is perfect for Valentine’s Day.
My kids love giving and getting Valentine’s Day Cards to their friends at school.
It’s one of the highlights of their school year.
And so every February, they get a list of students in their classroom so they know who to write their cards to.
But my kids in their sweet naivete, don’t realize that on all those lists, handed out around the country to thousands and thousands of children, there are many names that aren’t on the lists.
Names that can’t be on the lists.
So many children, too many children, are unable to get Valentine’s Day cards from their peers because they’re not in school…they’re in hospitals instead.
They’re fighting illnesses and diseases and germs their immune systems can’t handle.
Many of them are fighting to live.
And while the list is long of all the awful things these chronically ill children go through, there’s one small thing we can do to take one of the things off that list: not getting Valentine’s Day cards from other kids.
So that’s our focus for February’s Family Volunteer Challenge.
Why it’s Important to Volunteer with our Kids:
We are raising kind kids. We expect it, we praise it and we model it.
Related: How to Raise Kinder Kids
And we tend to focus on the quiet, normal, everyday moments of kindness.
Holding the door for the person behind you.
Picking up something someone dropped.
Offering your seat to someone who needs it.
But there’s also bigger, grander, more time-consuming acts of kindness that falls more into the volunteering category of kindness:
Times when we donate to our local food bank.
Or collect all our old jackets and take them to a shelter that needs them.
Or when we take a taco to someone who’s really hungry.
Our kindness may not change the world. But it can change the world for the people we help.
And it instills in my children the fact that volunteering and acts of service are a normal part of lives.
Helping others doesn’t need to be a once a year activity during December when we donate a toy or two.
People are hungry year round.
Animal shelters are full year round.
Kids are sick year round.
And we can help. Because we are helpers. We are raising our kids to be helpers.
As an added bonus (as if we needed one more reason) volunteering as a family is an incredible way to connect as a family and build a strong family identity.
So teaching our kids to give to others who are less fortunate than ourselves is a true gift.
Many families want to donate and volunteer but it feels too hard.
And they don’t know where to volunteer or how easy it really is to make a significant difference.
So we’re here to make it easier for you with the Family Volunteer Challenge.
How the Family Volunteer Challenge Works:
Every month, we’ll post a family-friendly service activity you and your kids can do together.
It’s 12 months, 1 activity each month, 10-30 minutes each month.
And it’ll be super easy.
We’ll give you a suggestion.
You can run with it, tweak it, make it your own, or scrap it and do something totally different.
Your only tasks are to commit to doing this as a family, talk about what you’re doing and why with your kids so it has a lasting impact, and then protect the time on your calendar so it doesn’t get pushed back.
And it also has to come with this crucial caveat…you can only do this Family Volunteer Challenge if you do it with no guilt.
- No guilt that you didn’t start it sooner. You’re starting now and that’s incredible.
- No guilt if one month, life got in the way and you skipped it. You can do it next month, no worries.
- No guilt if you think your kids are selfish and self-centered and are ungrateful. They probably are but that’s not their fault or yours. It’s how their brain is wired and we can turn giving to others and being generous a learned habit.
Okay, now that we’re guilt-free, let’s start spreading some kindness as a community.
12 Months of Volunteering as a Family:
Before we jump into February’s volunteering activity, if you haven’t checked out January’s Volunteer activity and this year’s Bonus Activity, you can check it out here:
Now for February’s challenge:
For February, we’re helping sick children in the hospital.
So many kids are hospitalized for long stays in hospitals for a myriad of reasons: disease, chronic illness, invisible diseases, or compromised immune systems.
And for kids who are “stuck” in the hospital over a holiday that makes it even harder.
But our kids can help make their stay a little more enjoyable.
Many hospitals around the country have an eValentine program where our kids can write digital valentines for kids who are in the hospital and can’t receive princesses and superheroes and kitty cat Valentine cards from their classmates due to their immune systems.
Do it now:
Help your kids choose the eValentine they want to send and what hospital they want to send it through.
They can add their name and a message.
But help your kids with the message and follow the guidelines of the Children’s Hospital: “Please focus on the spirit of Valentine’s Day rather than “get well” notes to help keep the celebration upbeat and positive for kids,” since some kids won’t “get well.”
Talk about it:
If you have older kids, explain what chronic illness is and talk about childhood illnesses and poor immune systems and what it must feel like to have to live in a hospital for weeks or months at a time.
If you need help explaining it to younger kids, here’s how we do it: “Some kids are super healthy like us. We’re really lucky. But everone is different and our bodies are different. So some bodies aren’t as healthy or as strong as others. Some kids’ bodies don’t work like your body. Some kids have very serious illnesses so they have to stay in the hospital for a lot of days so the nurses and doctors can help them get better. And some kids are so sick, they might not get better and the doctors and nurses are there to help those kids feel a little more comfortable.”
Have a conversation with your kiddos after they make the eValentine about how easy it was to cheer up someone and make their day better.
Remind them of how simple it was to go online and make a few valentines. Talk about how it makes our hearts feel full when we can brighten up the day for someone who is struggling with something really serious.
What would it be like if we knew someone who had to stay at the hospital for a long time?
How would you feel if you needed someone to cheer you up and no one did?
How do you feel knowing our family’s act of kindness made someone else a little happier and brought a smile to their face, even when they’re sad or hurt or sick?
We can and should teach our kids empathy. And it starts with conversations like these.
Some of the hospitals might send you a confirmation email as a thank you. My daughter LOVED getting this sent to her:
Celebrate and Spread the Word:
Be proud of your volunteering and let your kids know you’re proud of them. Celebrate the time your family spent together to make other people’s lives a little happier.
And share what you did with other families. Kindness is contagious. Challenge them to join you by asking them to send an eValentine too.
Because the world can always use more kindness and more Valentine Cards.