"As we work to create light for others, we naturally light our own way." - Mary Ann Radmacher
By Amy Johnson, Outreach and Marketing Manager, PGK - Bay Area
If you’re like me, you’ve probably seen and read all the hype about simple living. Edit your life! Less is more! Simplify, simplify, simplify! While I’m all about this in theory, I’m a work in progress when it comes to practice. Our family has taken baby steps, and I will admit that each step forward brings about a bit more breathing room, and in turn, a bit more happiness.
Whether by happenstance or because I’ve got simple living on the brain, the concept of simplicity has made its way into our service. Our church is participating in Village House, an interfaith program through which 15 homeless women are provided shelter and services through the winter. The program relies on volunteers to offer a variety of support, from providing medical care to serving as campus watch. Our family signed up for laundry duty. Once a week, we collect a dirty laundry bag belonging to one of the guests. We bring it home, wash, dry, and fold the clothes, and return the bag that evening. All without ever seeing the woman whose laundry we just folded. It’s been an interesting experience in service because not only is the act super simple (who doesn’t enjoy a pile of freshly laundered clothes?), it is also anonymous.
I started brainstorming other simple, anonymous acts of service we could do as a family and was totally inspired! Here’s the best of the bunch for those of you who want to give it a try. Maybe you’ll find that simple giving is the first step towards simple living.
Simple Giving Ideas
- Walk your shopping cart back to the front of the store. Better yet, offer to take someone else’s cart! (I have been the recipient of this while juggling two toddlers and was sooooo grateful)
- Next time you bake cookies, make an extra batch for your local fire department, police department, or nursing home.
- Bring a trash bag with you to the park and collect litter you find along the way. (But please don’t forget to wear gloves!)
- Pick up a few extra groceries to donate during your next shopping trip. Most stores collect donations on site.
- Pay for a stranger’s bus fare or cup of coffee. Perhaps you’ll start a pay-it-forward trend!
- We have a difficult time when we come across someone asking for help at an intersection. Keep granola bars or bus tokens in your car to give when you encounter someone asking for help. Or if you want to go further, make a few sock sacks to keep in the car and pass out when needed. Fill a new pair of socks with individually wrapped snacks and a water bottle. It will be a useful and portable treat for them to enjoy.
- Remember all those packets of crayons you collected from restaurants? Donate them to a local preschool or family shelter. You could even start a Crayon Collection!
- Leave a nice note or poem for your mail carrier to enjoy.
- Help someone with a stroller get through a door or around an obstacle. Again, I’ve been the recipient of this and was very grateful!
- Like to craft? Make greeting cards or paper flower arrangements for your local hospital or nursing home.
- Give your neighbor a heart attack! Simply cut up a bunch of hearts from pink, red or purple paper, write sweet messages on them, and tape them on your neighbor’s outside front windows. Pinterest is your go-to place for more ideas like this (Boo Grams, Candy Grams, etc.)
- Are you the next David Blaine or Harry Houdini? Take your magic show on the road to a local children’s hospital or nursing home.
- Last but note least, open the door for someone else. It doesn’t get much simpler than that!
Bay Area Begins
Spotlight: Bay Area Begins with Festivals, Markets & New Friends
We are just getting started in the Bay Area and to kick things off, PGK teamed up with our new partner, My New Red Shoes, to get a jump start on the Back-to-School season, making nearly 200 cards to accompany the Back-to-School bags they provide to students in need to help get their year off to good start.
Participating in a Facebook Festival in May, two farmer's markets in June and July, and gearing up for our final summer appearance at the Facebook County Fair on August 26th, PGK has been connectinig with kids to give them a chance to bring smiles to other students, just like them, and to make sure they know there are lots of other ways they can make a difference - all they need to do is check out the PGK website or the newly launched PGK mobile app, YouthGive.
Spotlight: TACSC, PGK and CPFS (Lots of Letters Coming Together for Lots of Good)
Each year, we partner with our friends at TACSC to dream up a service project we think will resonate with the roughly 2500 middle school students from over 80 schools that come together for their SLD Days to learn about being student leaders. This year, we introduced them to our friends at Cell Phone for Soldiers (or CPFS).
At TACSC, a specific focus was placed on servant leadership this year. Participants discussed the pillars of servant leadership, and students were challenged to find their “magis” and create a program that will serve their schools, parishes and communities while fulfilling their own passion to help others. In introducing them to Cell Phone for Soldiers, a nonprofit organization serving our veterans that was founded by middle school students, the participants were able to see servant leadership in action and express their gratitude to our troops by way of short video clips.
As noted by Program Director, Gene Detre, “In order to lead, you must serve. And it does not matter how old you are… you can start today.” At PGK, we believe whole-heartedly in this message. And apparently it resonated too. As noted by Anita from St. Pius X Elementary School, "This Student Leadership Day was the best day ever! I learned that I can make a difference in the lives of others and helping others is what I want to do! To be a leader, I must serve. And there are lots of people I can serve!"
Anita, thanks for reminding all of us there are many people we can serve every day. And thank you, TACSC, for helping students realize their power to change the world!