"As we work to create light for others, we naturally light our own way." - Mary Ann Radmacher
Spotlight: Downey Kids ASPIRE to Make A Difference
ASPIRE afterschool program in the City of Downey, worked with the nonprofit, Karma Rescue, to provide visits and assemblies for the K-8th grade youth. The staff and volunteers from Karma Rescue spent time educating the students on Karma Rescue’s mission. The students heard how important it is to find a permanent home for dogs and other animals in shelters. They also learned about the importance of getting pets fixed (spay/neutered) to reduce the shelter population. Lastly, they learned about dog breeds and some misconceptions. They enjoyed being able to spend time with a Karma Rescue dog too.
ASPIRE serves 1,200 students daily on twelve school campuses from school dismissal until 6pm. In addition to homework, clubs, physical education, and arts, the students select service learning projects to give back to the community.
The students and staff utilize the Project Giving Kids website to find projects. This month, their choice was easy, selecting "aiding the animals." They chose activities from the PGK site outlining how to make dog toys and blankets that would benefit the dogs they learned about.
We are proud of ASPIRE students for making over 682 dog toys and 10 mini blankets. However, according to Michelle Jenney, Program Supervisor, it would not have been possible without the collaboration for Project Giving Kids and Karma Rescue.
Spotlight: Fab Fam Does #49for49
The start of a new year is a great time to make plans for improvement, but it is also a wonderful time to look back at the highlights of the one that just ended. As I reflect on 2016, so much happened that seemed to dampen my spirits: personal tragedies, political upheaval, friends with cancer. But one bright spot throughout the second half of my year came from a dear friend who reminded me of the power of putting good into the world when tragedy strikes.
None of us were expecting the Pulse shooting last June. To be honest, at times it's still hard to believe it happened. The response to that event was varied – there was mourning, solidarity, anger, fear, pride – and then there were the Hestons. A family of four on the north side of Orlando put their emotions to the side and committed to doing an act of kindness for every one of the 49 victims of that tragic night. #49for49 became their hashtag and off they set to put a positive spin on a terrible tragedy.
Homemade cookies for first responders; Jared Boxes for pediatric hospital patients; holiday cards for the elderly; meals for the hungry – each act in honor of one of the victims. It's easy to give of ourselves when our blessings feel abundant. Sometimes it's not so easy when times are hard. But as mom Erin, put it so perfectly:
“With each 'kindness opportunity,' we honor one of the individuals taken from our community. We hope that in this small way, we're bringing a smile to those who knew them, or maybe even inspiring others to share their love with the world. With each donation or project, we find that we get so much more than we give. Along the way, our family is learning, having fun together and making connections that bring us as much joy as those we serve.”
So as we begin this new year, let us be inspired by Brock, Molly and their parents. While certainly there is still much to worry about, let’s turn those worries into action -- the positive kind. We don’t know what a world of kindness just might look like.
For more on this incredible family and their journey, visit www.49for49.com.
Random Act of Kindness Day
By Molly Yuska, PGK Founder
They say it's the little things that count. As a parent, I couldn't agree more. As we continue to move through this Random Act of Kindness Week, with Random Act of Kindness Day itself now upon us, it's a great reminder that all of the little things we do for others really do add up to something big. When you consider the ripple effect of those cumulative actions, the impact is ultimately unknown. So, as you move through your Friday today, I challenge you not just to think about the long weekend ahead and what you may hope to get out of it. Take a few moments to do one of the following:
- Grab the tab of the person behind at the drive thru;
- Send a letter to a hurting friend or relative who's lost a loved one or needs a pick me up;
- Look for the good in others and give a compliment (or several!) to those around you;
- Make a quick batch of cookies and drop them off with an elderly neighbor or a new mom with a "thinking of you" note;
- Simply smile and hold the door for the person coming in or out before you;
- Take an extra moment to really listen to what someone else has to say and be the comforting ear they need today.
And why confine such acts to a day or a week? We challenge you to act with this kind of intentional kindness every Friday, or better yet, every day. The options are truly endless, as is the impact of all of us walking through life together in this way.