Tuesday, November 23, 2010

List of 100 Ways to Give - Part IV

31. Take a cart from the parking lot to the store on your way in.

Next time you are on your way into the grocery store and pass one of those cart corrals clogged with buggies, take one with you into the store. You'll make someone's job a little easier, and you're going that way anyway.

32. Always return your shopping cart to a designated return location.

Ever had a cart run into your car? Well, neither have I. *whew* But I see carts left every which way in parking lots, even when the corral is not that far away and there isn't a cloud in the sky. At a grocery store on a hill, I once saw a cart roll downhill through the entire parking lot, across a fairly busy road and finally go off the blacktop on a side road. There was nothing I could have done to stop it. Thank goodness it didn't hit anything. You can give back by putting a cart where it is supposed to go.

33. Donate a handmade item to a raffle/sale/auction for charity.

Are you good at crafts, cooking and the like? Non-profit organizations are always looking for funds. Why not donate a good which you have made so that the group can sell it? You give to the cause and get the word out about your talent. There is nothing wrong with receiving sometimes ... it's a very important part of the cycle.

34. Get certified in CPR.

For my last job, I had to get certified in "Heartsaver First Aid". Every two years, you get re-certified. Thank goodness I never had to use it outside of the class. And thank God I would know what do to if an emergency occurred.

35. Pass on your knowledge of CPR on to another person.

Imagine if even 5% of the general public were certified in CPR and/or first aid, imagine how many people could be helped after an accident or natural disaster. Imagine if your loved one(s) were one/some of those helped.

36. Volunteer at your child's school.

How can one instructor teach 25 children? With help of the kids' parents! When my boys went to public school, I volunteered in the classroom once or twice a week. Their classmates called me "Mrs. B." Even years later. I still smile thinking about it. You can help a child understand a difficult concept, make copies, help put up or take down displays. I loved every minute of it.

37. Adopt-a-Highway.

Don't go running across freeways to pick up a cup someone thoughtlessly threw out the window. But anyone can pick up an empty bag that blew up to a yard. Get together with your neighbors and "adopt your street". Start to think (if you haven't already) about what you put in the garbage in the first place. Every little bit helps!

38. Walk/play with animals at the local shelter.

The reason most shelters are faced with having to euthanize animals is because they can't afford to keep them. Help reduce their costs. You can donate money or food or accessories. You can volunteer your time to care for the animals. You can get a youth group to get the word out about an adopt-a-thon. There are groups around the country who will transport a pet from one state to another if there is an animal that can be rescued.

39. Teach basic cooking skills to youngsters at a shelter.

My kids are fairly independent an like to do some things by/for themselves. Teaching them kitchen safety and basic cooking skills (dependent on their ages and abilities) was a win-win situation. It freed me up from going into the kitchen to get someone something every 15 minutes! And learning a new skill was great for their self-esteem.

Kids from struggling families have enough in life with which to be concerned. Having an adult who cares (and has time) to teach them a skill that makes their lives better is a God-send. It doesn't have to be in a shelter...you could show a scouting or youth group. Get your kids involved too...nothing helps cement your knowledge of a new subject as teaching it to someone else.

40. Put a dollar in the Salvation Army red bucket.

A couple of years ago we started a little tradition. When we went to WalMart on payday, each of the kids got a dollar to put in the bucket on the way out. It got to be where the kids would start asking for their dollars when we checked out. Two years ago, my daughter (then 5) even got to ring the bell herself when she put her dollar in. It brought a smile to every bell-ringer's face. The way I figure it is if I have a dollar for a soda (and that's cheap for a bottle of pop these days), I have a dollar to put into the bucket for an organization with the connections already in place to do a lot of people good.

Monday, November 22, 2010

List of 100 Ways to Give - Part III

21. Join and participate in coupon train.

Do you clip coupons religiously? Join a coupon train! I had never heard of one of these until I joined several "Mom" sites on the internet.

There is a list of people in the train. You get an envelope of coupons from the person before you on the list. You clip even more coupons. Keep the ones you use and mail off the others to the next person on the list. Giving and saving is great!

22. Shovel a neighbor's sidewalk.

As my mother got older, and my brother got busier (I had moved away with my family some years before), a neighbor took it upon himself to bring his snow-blower over and get the snow off my mother's driveway. This is quite a job because snows where Mom lives often put down a couple of feet at a time. What was his connection to my Mom? Both his wife and my mother were born in Switzerland.

23. Give a cold drink to your mailman during the summer.

I suppose in this day and age, it would be better to have a bottled water of juice or can of soda around. I've seen some mail trucks where the air-conditioning consisted of a little fan attached to the dashboard. Can you imagine riding around in one of those for 8 hours? Ugh!

Back in the summer, when I would go to work in the afternoon (and the car windows had been up until that point), I had to use a shirt to operate the steering wheel until my hands got used to the heat. I always had something to drink with me.

24. Give a warm drink to your mailman during the winter.

Now there's nothing wrong with giving a cup of coffee, tea or hot chocolate to your mail person. But in this day and age some might not feel comfortable accepting or drinking it if they don't know you well. You be the judge.

25. Make a special supper for each member of the family once a week.

Some people say charity begins at home. Where better, then, to start giving? And what a great example to set an example for your children! It doesn't mean you have to eat 'high on the hog' (sorry, I'm country, those are going to slip out now and again *lol*) every night, but cook a favorite dish, put their food on a special plate, have each family member tell a good quality of the family member du jour. Help your kids see that each person has something special about them. Do this less than once a week...just do it.

26. Read a book to a child.

Moms and Dads should be doing this anyway. Schools suggest at least 20 minutes per day of reading with your child. I know the idea of this is to get the child reading to help improve his or her skill. Every now and again, though, it's nice to be done for instead of to do oneself.

27. Read a book to an elderly acquaintance.

My husband's Mamaw is 89 years old. She used to get out and go, putter around her house and kitchen. A couple of years ago she broke a hip. She can get around on her own, move from chair to chair etc. But most of the time she just sits in her wheelchair. Now, she's hardly ever alone. She's in her home, and two of her three remaining children live within 5 minutes of her. We always visit when we stop by the in-laws'. Come to think of it, this would be a great chance for the kids to practice their reading!

28. Read a book to a visually impaired acquaintance.

I tutored a visually-impaired Greek exchange student for about a year, at a time when I was doing several plays. She enjoyed going to "see" the plays...I know, at first I didn't get it either.

We don't do this (give) because someone is someone has less than us. We give because every person is worthy of "being seen", being connected to others.

29. Drive someone to the grocery store who does not have other transportation.

One of our neighbors recently lost his apartment and his girlfriend in one fell swoop. He has no transportation. Well, our common landlord is letting him stay in one of the apartments that is being renovated in exchange for some work. And once in a while we drive him where he needs to go.

A twist on this one is to call up a neighbor when you are going to the store anyway and see if there is something you can pick up for them.

30. Join and be active in your local school's PTA/PTO organization.

The PTA meetings at my sons' primary school (when they were in public school) were always packed. But few people were around when it came to organizing programs or fundraisers. Take the next step. Do more than you have to. Just don't wear yourself out. They are our children too.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

List of 100 Ways to Give - Part II

11. Organize and give a (musical) performance at a rest home.

My mother was in the Swiss Chorus Edelweiss in Salt Lake for some time and they used to do this sort of thing a lot. Not musically inclined? I bet you know someone who is!

And why stop there? You could read to someone who is visually impaired, offer a craft class. I could go on and on (trust me on that one!)

12. Go Christmas caroling at a hospital.

I used to do this every year with my Job's Daughters group. My favorites were "Be Kind to Your Parents" and "The Twelve Days After Christmas".

13. Thank a soldier for their service to the country.

See someone in uniform? Go up, extend your hand and say "thanks".

14. Thank a veteran for their service to the country.

My MIL's husband is a Viet Nam veteran. He lost both legs and one arm in the war, helping to save some of his buddies. He came back, earned two Ph.D degrees and worked until his retirement helping other veterans who had become disabled in the service.

15. Thank a soldier or veteran's family for their service to the country.

My husband took the kids to see his mother a couple of years ago and I had to stay behind to work. I missed them terribly, so much so that I got a little tattoo with their initials and birthstone colors inside of hearts. This is so small compared to the sacrifices made by the families of soldiers and veterans, sending their loved ones for the good of their neighbors and friends and families. Invite them over for dinner. Take them a meal. Join an organization that is already formed.

16. Buy an extra school supply to donate to the school's family resource center.

Especially during back to school season, you can usually find real bargains on school supplies. Buy an extra pack of paper, set of pencils or whatever and donate them to your school's family resource center. Now, when we lived in Texas, I had never heard of such a thing, but we've run across several here in Kentucky. One local church has a school-supply giveaway each year that even welcomes homeschoolers!

17. Weed a neighbor's garden.

Yeah, I know, I hate weeding too. But it feels good when it's done. Imagine the smile you can create on the face of someone who may not have the time (say, a single parent) or the ability (for example, an older neighbor or someone who has been injured) when they see their yard or garden without weeds!

18. Plant and maintain a garden for an elderly acquaintance.

If you have the time and the help, you could even "adopt" their garden. Everyone needs healthy fruits and vegetables!

19. Teach a gardening class at church or community center.

Have a green thumb? Pass along your knowledge to others. It fits so well with the "give a man a fish" idea. Now, lest WAHs think I'm saying they shouldn't charge for their time and talent...far from it! I'm just saying that everyone has received help in life and paying it back (or forward) every now and again allows that charity energy to keep going.

20. Watch kid(s) for a neighbor in a pinch.

Almost a no-brainer here. Do you know someone who needs to go shopping without curious eyes in tow? Or maybe they just need some "quiet" time getting groceries or running other errands. This doesn't mean becoming the neighborhood's no-charge babysitter. Let your own situation dictate whether or not you accept any payment offered. All options, if honest, are honorable.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

List of 100 Ways to Give - Part I

The entire list of 100 Ways to Give was compiled in a single session lasting roughly an hour. Since I like to elaborate on...oh, pretty much everything, I decided to break the posting up into ten ideas a day...so people wouldn't get bored.

Also, not all the ideas are gems. Some may even be repeats or forms of one another. But the important thing and the design of the exercise was to brainstorm many ways to give and get me thinking outside my box.

So, here we go...

1. Take a meal to your next-door neighbor.

I have a hard time getting to know people. Some places we have lived, bigger cities for example, make not knowing people well easier. I think we talked to one of our four breezeway neighbors once or twice during the year or two that we lived in that apartment.

If you are a subscriber to the "It Takes a Village to Raise a Child" theory, getting to know one's neighbors would fit right in. And food bribes are usually much appreciated.

Even if you know your neighbors well, they would probably appreciate the thought and gesture. Give it a try sometimes and let me know how it goes.

2. Take a meal to a shut in.

My husband had a headache today. He wanted to check on his father, as FIL will be going in for an operation on Thursday of this week, and we have not heard from him for several days. FIL is one tough old (j/k) bird and I am confident he will come through just fine, but DH is worried. A wife knows.

The point is, after the operation, he will be basically bedfast for at least a couple of weeks. Both he and his mother (aka Mamaw) have those little motorized scooters, so can get around fairly well. But he is in his 60s and Mamaw is 89.

Tell me any one of the in-laws would not love to get an already-cooked meal over the next couple of months! I think this is going on our family calendar as a regular event...once a week or every other week.

3. Send pizza to the local fire department.

Most FD's around here are volunteer. I've known and worked with several volunteer firefighters at different times and these men and women are committed to keeping the people and properties in their areas safe.

I'm sure there would be some logistics to work out. The pizzas would probably have to be delivery, or maybe a family or group could make the 'za' right in the fire house with ingredients that the staff had bought. It's hard to be too careful these days. (Don't you miss the days when this type of terrorist activity did not even occur to folks?)

4. Send pizza to the local police station.

I worked midnights at a police department in Texas, taking reports over the phone that did not require officer dispatch and transcribing reports officers had phoned in. We loved just about any excuse for a party.

Ditto the logistics issues as with the fire department.

5. Let someone pull out in front of you coming out of a parking lot.

The road that comes out in front of the gas station at the local Walmart is always crowded. I avoid it wherever possible. I shudder to think what that lot will be like just before Christmas. If I have to go, I hope it is about 4-5am, because it should be just shy of impossible to find a spot. People are likely to be grouchy. They've had to fight to get the most-wanted giftable items in the store. Drivers zoom around the parking lot, less observant than usual, all in attempts to get that close parking spot.

Imagine their surprise when you stop and motion them in front of you in the line of cars exiting the parking lot? I'm smiling about it even now. I think I'll make a point of this every time I am in that lot.

6. Give your spouse a back rub.

When I was pregnant with my oldest child, I was in a massage therapy program. I got halfway through and then had to drop out, because I developed sciatica and could not stand up long enough to give a massage. But one thing I found out during the program...the person giving the massage gets almost as much satisfaction as the receiver. There's just something about giving of yourself to another that feeds your soul. And a back rub does not have to be a prelude to...anything else, but then there's no law saying it can't be either! *wink*

7. Give your spouse some scented massage oil (so he can give you a back rub)!

There are many wonderful lotions and potions available in stores and online. You may even know someone who makes and markets their own customized blends and you can send a little business their way. Or, of course, you could make your own. There are scads of recipes and instructional videos online.

8. Buy an extra non-perishable food item at the grocery store and take them once a month (etc) to the local food bank.

Don't buy the most expensive thing there unless you can afford it. Speaking as someone who has been on the receiving end of food bank provisions, I would rather have generic spaghetti for five meals than gourmet pasta for one. (But I would eat it if it were there, of course.)

The point I'm trying to make is that giving this way does not have to put your budget at risk. Something that may seem minuscule to you may mean loads to someone else.

9. Talk to five friends and neighbors about joining with you and multiply your food bank donations!

There is definitely strength in numbers. If one less gas station coffee for me means one child has a full belly tonight...how can I refuse? If you and just one friend do the same, maybe two children from your city or town will not go to bed hungry. The benefits multiply with each additional giver.

10. Give flowers to someone in the hospital.

When I was in the hospital with my daughter, my boss from the PD came in one day with some flowers. Not only was I stunned that he visited at all, but the man brought flowers! Ok, I looked terrible at the time, but my insides were blooming with happiness!

It doesn't even have to be someone you know. Just take some in and have a nurse or CNA take them to someone who does not get many visitors. Or even drop an arrangement off at a nurses' station. Tell me THAT wouldn't raise a smile or two. Having worked in a health care environment for about 4.5 years, I know how under-appreciated the staff sometimes feel.


So, that's the first ten ideas. Have they brought up any ideas for you? I'd LOVE to hear them!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Five Question Friday #1

1. If you could have any talent and turn it into an occupation, what would it be?

I would love to be able to support my family by acting on stage. I actually started out college in musical theatre, but I was so introverted that I had trouble auditioning. I had to pass an audition at the end of the first year, and failed miserably...to the tune (no musical theatre pun intended) of one of the professors writing that "you should find something else to do. You have no future in theatre."

Several years later, as a finance major at a different college, I saw a notice for auditions for "The Importance of Being Earnest", and told myself that "I should do that". Then I saw that the auditions were that day and nearly talked myself out of it. But I went. And I got the part of "Lady Bracknell". And for 5 years after that, I did about 5-6 plays a year.

Along the way, I also finished my degree. For my mother's sake, I will add I attained "magna cum laude" status. Oh, and I found out my singing voice was pretty good after all.

2. Would you rather have a house at the beach or a cabin in the woods?

Beach. I love the ocean. I feel so connected with ... 'eternity' there.

3. Is there any meaning or reasoning for the names you chose for your child/children?

My husband had a brother and a sister that either were stillborn or died in early infancy. DS1's first name is the same as the brother. His middle names come from my husband and my father. DD's name is the same as the sister's. Her first middle name is a traditional name going up on my mother's family. As DH got to choose his sister's middle name years ago, we thought we would let DS1 do the same for his sister. His first thought was "Cherry". Not wanting to explain to the then 6-yr old boy why Cherry might not be the best middle name for a girl, we asked him to choose another. Thought #2 was "White". Strange. Thought #3 (and the one he stuck to longest) was "Olive". So we modernized it a little to "Olivia". Last but not least is DS2. His first name starts with a "B" and is just a name DH likes. His two middle names comes from my FIL and my MIL's umpteenth husband. We were going to list "V"'s name first and "D"'s name last, but that would have given him the initials "BVD"...like the underwear. I put my foot down. *lol*

4. What is your guilty pleasure? (I know we've done this one before, but I'm guessing people's "guilty pleasures" change frequently. At least, mine do!)

Baklava. I could have that for dessert every day after every meal.

5. Do you live in a house that is deep cleaned or straightened?

Don't be funny. I think I'm a permanent fixture in the "CHAOS" club of Flylady.net fame.


To read other great answers to the above questions, please click on the graphic above.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Day 1 - 30 Day Giving Challenge

My giving today was to my family.

My father-in-law is having some rather serious health challenges at the moment. Several years back, after an operation on his knee, an infection set up that eventually required the amputation of his right leg just above the knee. In spite of this "disability", he continues to be one of the most active people I know. He cares for his aging mother (Mamaw is 89). He drives the local Amish people around - locally and nationally, having recently made a couple of trips to Delaware.

Anyway, he learned this summer that his other knee requires an operation, and he is understandably nervous. In addition, he has a slipped disk in his neck and that needs an operation as well. He was at the hospital today getting a CT scan.

DH approached me at home and asked if we could take the kids to Stanford, so he could be there if his Dad needed him. Chris was worried because when he talked to his father on the phone, he said his father sounded like he was drunk. FIL wasn't drunk, but has been taking some serious painkillers to deal with his physical ailments. He said his father would probably be upset at him, but he wanted to be there just in case.

So we woke up the kids, got them dressed and we headed out. I was deliberately obtuse about why we were going, because the two youngest (DS2 - age 12 and DD - age 7) tend to get rather upset about sickness and injury. We just said we were going to help Papaw.

Well, when we were halfway there, Papaw (FIL) called and said he was turning into his driveway. So we turned to head towards his house. Before we got there, DH decided not to go. Obviously his father got home ok. FIL is extremely independent and DH thought he would probably get mad that we all came up "to check on him" and probably needed rest anyway.

This took 3-4 hours out of our day. But it was for family...and that means everything to me.


Even though it is past the beginning of the month, I invite y'all to join in the challenge, by clicking on the button to the left for more information!