I want Olivia to appreciate all the gifts our family has been given in life. Health, loving parents, grandparents and warm friends. With her turning 4-years old I felt like this was a good time to start some holiday traditions that involved giving back and doing something where she started to grasp the concept of kindness. I wanted activities she could participate in and I wanted to start off small. We will up the ante and do more volunteering as she gets older but making cards of appreciation and gift boxes for our Troops, creating cards for sick children and helping me purchase and mail gifts for hospitalized children felt like concepts she could grasp at her young age.

One of my best friends emailed me about a charity called Cards for Hospitalized Kids. The charity reached out to her organization for help creating uplifting cards for sick children. They didn’t have to be holiday related, they could just contain fun sayings and cute drawings to distract the recipients from their terminal illnesses and day to day gruel of being in a hospital. I emailed a few friends with children around the same age to have a card decorating party at our house and hit the Dollar General for construction paper, fun stickers, markers, stamp markers and anything mess-free that the kids could work with.

We made pizzas and salad and spent the Sunday of Daylight Savings creating some cute cards for children who are hospitalized throughout the United States. The instructions said not to say “Get Well” as many of the recipients were terminally ill. We had alot of fun getting creative together and seeing how the older children were explaining to the younger children that the cards would brighten another child’s day. I really enjoyed doing this event as a family and with such kinds friends who wanted to participate.

Olivia and I also built care packages for Operation Gratitude this season. This organization made it very simple for us to print a wish list off and go shopping for what they needed. Then they ask you to fill out a quick form online and check off what you are shipping to them so that they can scan a bar code once they receive your donation and send a notice of receipt back to you.

Creating Care Packages for the Troops
Creating Care Packages for the Troops

The third charity we wanted to help out this year and have Olivia get engaged with was Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. They have a  very organized toy and gift donation list for children of a variety of different ages. We decided to take a day and go to Target to get a variety of items to ship to the Hospital including play-doh, Amazon gift cards and other items from the list.

We are definitely making giving back part of our annual family traditions. For more ideas on how to incorporate volunteering into your family click here.

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