Inside: Spread kindness as a family through this Family Volunteer Challenge for March by helping cheer up and connect with senior citizens with this simple art project.
After my grandma passed away years ago, my mom handed me a gigantic accordion folder.
Inside, it was almost every note, card and drawing I had ever made for my grandma. When I gave them to her, she’d hang my art on her refrigerator. And when I gave her a new art creation, she would change out the art and put the new one up.
Unbeknownst to little me, she kept everything I made her, long after she took it down off her refrigerator.
My mom then told me that when my grandma was feeling lonely or sad or simply needed a smile, she would pull out my folder (or one of my siblings’ or cousins’ folders) and look through what we had made for her: drawings, colorings, love notes, thank you notes, letters.
As children, we often create things with very little thought of how much positive impact it can bring when we give it away to others. Especially to the grandmas and grandpas of the world.
But so many senior citizens don’t have children in their lives who can draw and create for them. They don’t have a folder of notes and messages and sweet drawings they can pull out when they’re feeling blue.
The good news? Our kids can easily change that.
They can “adopt” a grandparent and spread some kindness and smiles with this month’s volunteer challenge.
It’s so simple to spread a smile…all our kids need are some crayons.
So our focus for March’s Family Volunteer Challenge are the senior citizens in our community who could use a little cheer and a little drawing and a smile.
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 for March.
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 into a learned habit.
Okay, now that we’re guilt-free, let’s start spreading some kindness.
12 Months of Volunteering as a Family:
Before we jump into March’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:
Want to keep it going for next month? Here’s April’s Volunteer Challenge.
Now for the Family Volunteer Challenge for March:
For March, we’re connecting with the elderly in our community who could use a smile and a little joy in their day.
There’s a big disconnect between our generations. (Especially when we generalize and use “Boomers” and “Millenials” as derogatory or hurtful labels.)
There are our kids. And there are the elderly. But rarely do they interact in meaningful ways unless we have multiple generations in our family.
And our kids have piles and piles of art projects we don’t know what to do with. (How many pieces of “art” have accidentally made their way into the recycling bin when your kids weren’t looking???)
And there are millions of octogenarians with no cheerful and sweet art hanging on their refrigerator.
We can bridge that gap with this month’s family volunteer challenge.
Our kids can draw and color to their hearts’ content and we can mail their projects to adults who request to receive them in the mail.
Do the Family Volunteer Challenge for March now:
Go online to colorasmile.org and browse the coloring sheets with your kids.
Choose a coloring sheet, print it, and start coloring!
If your child prefers to draw instead of color, they can choose a blank coloring sheet.
Your kids can use crayons, colored pencils or markers to decorate their coloring or drawing sheet.
The only “rules” are don’t date the art projects and no glitter (because, you know, glitter.)
Then once your child completes their drawing, mail it to:
Color A Smile
PO Box 1516
FedEx or UPS:
Color A Smile
164 Ridgedale Ave Unit 7
Morristown NJ 07960
You can fold the project to fit it into the envelope.
Talk about it:
Explain to your kids about the elderly and the older generations in our community who live in retirement homes, nursing homes, or in their own homes by themselves. Some of these people often feel quite lonely if they don’t have family and friends nearby to check on them or connect with them.
Connection is one of the major things we all crave as humans.
If you need help explaining it to younger kids, here’s how we do it: Sometimes when people get older, they can’t leave their house or go to work or spend time with other people. And sometimes these older people live alone and don’t have family nearby who can connect with them and send them mail. Maybe they don’t have a grandkid like you who likes to draw for them. So we’re going to do that. We’re going to make them some art and mail it to them so they can see your art and feel cheered up by it. They’ll know someone out there-YOU– was thinking of them and wanted to make them smile.
You can also read books to help kids really understand:
Have a conversation with your kiddos after they color a sheet about how easy it was to cheer up someone and make their day better.
Remind them of how simple it was to go online, print out a sheet, color it, and mail it off. Talk about how it makes our hearts feel full when we can brighten up the day for someone who feels lonely.
What would it be like if our grandma/grandpa didn’t have any of us to love her?
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 alone or lonely?
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 from our oldest generation a little happier.
And share the Family Volunteer Challenge for March with other families. Kindness is contagious. Challenge other families to join you by asking them to mail in a drawing too.
Because the world can always use more kindness and more art projects hanging on refrigerators.