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Spread the Love

Spread the Love

by Ellen Orr

Small Acts of Kindness You Can Do with Your Children
Valentine’s Day is all about love—romantic love, yes, but also friend love, family love, and love for your community and the world. For adults, February often brings stress about gifts, dinner reservations, and date-night planning. For kids, the month is all about hearts and candies. Love is bigger than candlelit meals and store-bought Valentine’s, though: love is a verb. Here are a few ways you and your children can show love to neighbors near and far.

Hold a neighborhood food drive.

Update your Facebook status, post in the Nextdoor app, or distribute flyers through your neighborhood, announcing that you and your kids will come by and pick up any canned goods they can spare to donate to the food bank. This good deed requires little planning and absolutely no cash, and everybody has a can or two in their pantry to give.

Thank an educator.

Whether it’s the teacher of a child you love or just a community member who works at a school—say thank you. The countdown to Spring Break is as trying for teachers as it is exciting for students. A handwritten note of gratitude from a student means a lot—as does a $10 Starbucks gift card.

Pick up litter.

Lace up your walking shoes, slip into some gloves, and grab the Walmart bags you’ve been saving “just in case.” Enlist your children to join you on a brisk stroll, and clean up your community while working toward that Fitbit steps goal. Bonus: Download the Charity Miles app, and for every mile you walk, 25 cents will be donated to the charity of your choosing.

Take your old blankets to the animal shelter.

Our furry friends are cold this time of year, too. Instead of throwing away that ragged fleece blanket, donate it to the animal shelter to be used by the resident strays.

Learn on FreeRice.com.

With Free Rice, anybody can study just about anything, from human anatomy to German vocabulary, from basic math to SAT prep questions. For every question answered correctly, ten grains of rice are donated to someone living in hunger. Spend 20 minutes with your kiddo filling others’ bellies and filling your own minds.

Set up a hot-cocoa stand.

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Illustration of children playing at summer camp

Gather your children and their friends, and enlist their help in hosting a hot-cocoa stand for a good cause. As much as possible, enable the children to advertise the stand, do the shopping, prepare the refreshments, handle the money, interact with customers, choose the beneficiaries of the proceeds, and physically donate the funds.

Give praise.

When you’re out-and-about today, look for an employee doing a good job—helping shoppers patiently, serving food with a smile, or providing excellent service some other way. Take note of their name, and then ring their supervisor to brag on them. You get extra credit if you “cheers” them on Facebook, too. Having children compliment and brag on others helps them build speaking skills, manners, and character.

Bake cookies.

While you’re baking cookies for your special someone, go ahead and bake a few extra dozen, and take them to people in your life who could perhaps use some extra cheer—the bereaved, the lonely, the overworked, the overlooked. Show someone that you’re thinking of them.


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