About a month ago, my friend Jeena's daughter, Issy, was suddenly diagnosed with a cerebellar tumor on her brain stem. Brain cancer. She is 12 years old. Fortunately, the tumor was localized and a team of surgeons at Yale Hospital were able to get it all. She is now officially "tumor-free" and in a rehabilitation hospital starting chemotherapy. A good friend of hers, Grace Bonita, an 12 year old entrepreneur, created a custom, handmade card for Issy. Grace is donating all the proceeds to Issy's medical fund. She is hoping that people will buy the cards not only to help with Issy's medical costs but to also give her dear friend some happiness and cheer from receiving them.
Uplifting stories of kindness and friendship like this one with Grace and Issy are not only inspiring, they really tug at the heartstrings. Summer may be over in a few weeks but it isn't too late to do good things for good causes with your children. The experience will not only resonate with them through years to come but will also teach them the importance of kindness and selflessness towards others.
1. Hold a lemonade stand. Lemonade stands and summertime often go hand in hand. Make your lemonade stand different by picking a charity or cause of your choice to donate the proceeds to. A few years back, my children and I decided to "fund" a 6th grade math classroom with books and supplies for the year.
2. Organize a tag sale. One man's junk is another man's treasure, as they say. It's a win win situation. Get rid of things you no longer need or use and donate all the proceeds to charity. Whatever is leftover at the end of the day can be donated to Salvation's Army or Goodwill. This is a good chance for the kids to go through their own things and figure out what they can part with for a good cause.
3. Volunteer at a pet shelter. We were a dog family for many years and when our dog passed away, my kids wanted to do something in her memory. We worked with PAWS, a local shelter and helped them gather supplies needed for an upcoming adoption day. There are many ways to do volunteer work with animals, depending on the ages of your children. It can be as simple as buying and donating a bag of dog food.
4. Volunteer in your community. Reach out to your local chamber of commerce or recreation department to see if there are any events coming up where the kids can do volunteer work. If there are any, gather as many of their friends to join in. The more the merrier!
5. Prepare for the new school year by doing something kind for your friends. Make some kindness rocks to give to each of them or a handmade card or note telling them how much you missed them over the summer. These little things may be simple but can mean a great deal to the recipient. One of my daughter's best friends have been away for 8 weeks, coming back home just a week before school starts. She has already gathered little items to surprise her with that she can use for school.
There is no such thing as a simple act of kindness. EVERY act of kindness is unique and will mean a great deal to its recipient. Sometimes it doesn't only make their day, it can change their life. Kindness starts with you. It doesn't cost anything. Teach your children to always be kind and to spread kindness around like confetti!