"As we work to create light for others, we naturally light our own way." - Mary Ann Radmacher
Creating a Giving Kids Day
By Amy Johnson, Outreach & Marketing Manager, PGK - Bay Area
I recently volunteered in my daughter’s preschool, organizing a Giving Kids Day. What a wonderful experience, from start to finish! Using the PGK website, we found three age-appropriate, fun projects for the kids to complete: assembling snack bags for the homeless, making cat toys for shelter animals, and decorating cards for homebound seniors.
We got started with a discussion about what it means to be a helper. The kids quickly made connections to their own lives, discussing classroom jobs and sharing ways they like to help out at home. Each project had an adult helper, and the students rotated through each. It was amazing to see how focused they were on the projects. The cat toys were challenging for many, but they persevered, many shouting in excitement, “I finally got it!” I was impressed by how much time and care they put into their cards for seniors. Each card truly reflected their love and kindness. And to my surprise, their favorite activity was assembling snack bags. The kids liked it so much, many asked to assemble more. One sweet girl asked if she could add a second water bottle to her bag, noting one bottle was not enough to stay hydrated. Bless her little heart!
We wrapped up the morning with a debrief of the activities and discussion about ways they can continue to be helpers. Their teacher read The Giving Tree later that day, and many of the kids continued to work on cards and toys during quiet time for the remainder of the week. Inspired and impressed by the morning, the teachers have already discussed ways they can bring more service projects to the classroom.
It’s really that simple. Take a few simple projects; add the love of youngsters; stir; and make magic. Want to arrange a Giving Kids Day in your preschool or elementary school? The following steps will help you get started:
- Use the PGK website to find local projects or ideas- focus on assembly style or arts and crafts projects to keep those little ones engaged!
- Ask each of the families to donate a portion of the supplies (24 granola bars, 36 note cards, 50 Ziploc bags, etc.) Supplies should be due a few days before the event, as you may need time to fill in missing items.
- Begin the day with a discussion or book about giving.
- Talk to the kids about what they are doing and why. Ask them how it makes them feel to be helping others. These discussions will help them make stronger, lasting connections to service.
- Take time to reflect and debrief with the kids. They will be so proud to see how much they accomplished together!
- Don’t forget to share their work with the community –parents, school, social media, etc. It’s heartwarming to see little ones giving back, and you may inspire others to follow in your footsteps!
To The Mothers This Mother's Day
By Molly Yuska, PGK Founder
It's Mother's Day, and I can’t help but reflect on the multitude of ways being a mother has changed me. I not only have a new appreciation for all my mom went through trying to raise me to become a confident and capable young woman, but I also recognize with deeper appreciation how critical the role is we mothers play in our children’s development in forming good human beings.
In a world full of distraction, temptation, and egocentric messaging, true intentionality is required of parents today in a way that is perhaps greater than ever before. Yet because of all those distractions, it is often harder today, I think, to always keep the eyes on the prize, so to speak. But I am also convinced, it IS possible.
I have watched my now teenager go from the innocent, awe-inspired child I once knew who so readily soaked up those early moments of service we enjoyed together, to a budding young man with an awareness of the world and the role he plays in it. While weekend soccer games, school dances, seemingly endless homework, and so many other things occupy our time and focus, there is still regular discussion about how we are living our lives to better the lives of those we have the chance to touch, and moments still carved out to make sure we are doing as well as talking.
As our spread stretches from said teenager to toddler, I will be thinking this Mother’s Day about the privilege and obligation I have to be the one mother my kids have on this earth. And while I may take this one day to relax from my duties just a little, I will remember that my respite from instilling the value of hard work, honesty, compassion, and service must be (relatively) short if I hope to see the outcome I so longingly desire.
And just as importantly, I will also remind myself to cut myself a little slack when I come up short - each day is filled with enough moments to make this happen. The race is long, and we have all the ingredients we need to make the magic.
Happy Mother’s Day to moms everywhere. May you feel loved and appreciated for all that you are and all that you do!
4 Easy Activities That Teach Your Toddler to Love Giving
By Sundari Johansen, PGK Manager of Strategic Engagement
Did you know it’s never too early to get kids involved in service? Seriously, moms and dads have even strapped infants to their chests to come and volunteer at our events!
I’ve got a busy toddler, and a busy life, and too often I’m just trying to hold myself together, so trying to find ways to volunteer in the middle of all that can be overwhelming! But luckily, PGK and our awesome nonprofit partners make it easy to combine things you want to do with your toddler anyway - super fun play that engages the senses and builds life skills - with meaningful volunteer activities you can do right in your own home.
Pro-tip: These activities are great for older kids, multiple kids of different ages, and whole families to do together, too!
Most of these activities use supplies you already have at home, or can easily get at your local grocery or art/craft supply store, and they can be done from almost anywhere! All of them have a sensory or skill-building component that’s great for toddlers.
Want more fun activities at your fingertips? Download the Youth Give app from iTunes!
1. Make bookmarks for kids learning to read
If you’re like me, you already do messy art activities with your toddler on the regular. Well, turn that into a volunteer activity! Reading Partners of the San Francisco Bay Area helps kids learn how to read, and every avid reader knows that a great bookmark is a wonderful thing. All you’ll need is some cardstock, scissors, coloring supplies like non-toxic paint and markers, and any other flat decorations your toddler’s creative heart desires. Get messy with it! When you’re done, let them dry, pop them in an envelope, and send them to Reading Partners so they can give them to new readers. Get started here!
2. Dog biscuit bake sale
This awesome activity from the MSPCA, one of our partners in Boston. Toddlers love getting their hands dirty, and dogs love biscuits. Another activity that’s great for the whole family, get your toddler involved in making dog biscuits at home. Baking is a great sensory activity! Then help your child sell the treats to dog owners around your neighborhood, at the local dog park, or to friends, family, or co-workers, to raise money for the MSPCA (or your local animal shelter). Get the recipe here!
3. Trash free lunches
Packing lunches for your toddler to take to daycare or preschool is often a chore, but our Los Angeles area partner Grades of Green has a great idea to help your child use their lunch to save the planet! Make this activity toddler-friendly by getting older toddlers involved in preparing and packing their lunch for the next day before bedtime, using only reusable containers, utensils, napkins, and water bottle, and remind them that every day they eat a trash free lunch, they’re doing their part to save the planet. Find out more here!
4. Spread some PB&J Love
What kid doesn’t love peanut butter & jelly (or, if your child is sensitive to peanuts, sunflower seed butter & jelly)? If you live in the LA area, the North Hollywood Interfaith Food Pantry needs PB&J sandwiches to help provide lunch for someone who might otherwise go hungry. And this is a great sensory and skill building activity to get an older toddler involved in! While you’re making the sandwiches together, have a simple talk about kindness and the importance of helping others, and making sure that nobody goes hungry. Needs vary, so be sure to call ahead to confirm the morning to drop off the sandwiches! And if you don’t live in the LA area, contact your local food pantry to see what their current needs are, and how your family might support their work. Get started making PB&Js!
Find more ways to engage your kids with service by using our online Activities tool!