Posts Tagged ‘ volunteer ’

Spread Cheer, Get Some in Return!

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

With the food riches of Thanksgiving behind us, Christmas is looming just around the corner (about three weeks to be exact). Though many get caught up trying to find the perfect gifts for family and friends, it’s easy to forget that presents don’t always need to come in shiny packages. 

Today’s #GivingTuesday, a national movement that started just last year. The goal: create a national day of giving where people can pay it forward. Whether that means donating to a favorite charity or volunteering at your local shelter, being charitable is all about finding the causes that matter to you.

One toy company is taking that mentality and spreading the joy throughout December. Tegu, known for its award-winning magnetic blocks, recently introduced a new member to the family: the Tegu Elf. And he’s on a mission to give back this holiday season.

From now until December 20, he will be tracking the hashtag #TeguElf across social media–Tegu’s Facebook wall, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. Once he finds a person in need, he’ll send a special present your way, anything from free Tegu products to a restaurant gift card.

To get the elf’s attention, just send out a message with the hashtag and the thing you’d like most this Christmas. Don’t forget to look outside your immediate family, too. The elf is on the lookout for charities to donate to as well.

In the weeks to come, be sure to track his movements and announcements on Tegu’s Facebook page. Each day, he offers something new (such as free cubes placed in every fifth order on the site). In the meantime, if you have your own plans to give back today, share a picture explaining your good deeds using the hashtags #GivingTuesday and #UNselfie.

The time it takes you to do something for others will feel so much better than battling a sea of frenzied shoppers.

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Celebrate Parents During National Volunteer Week

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

This is a guest post from Karen Bantuveris, founder and CEO of VolunteerSpot.

This week starts National Volunteer Week (April  21-27), celebrating the good work of people doing extraordinary things through service. It’s the perfect time to let every food bank volunteer, after-school mentor, Habitat builder, community cleaner, shelter staffer, charity fundraiser, and anyone else who helps others know exactly how awesome they are and how much we appreciate them.

But what’s always surprising is the number of moms and dads who don’t consider themselves true “volunteers.” If they’re giving their time and their help to others, they most definitely are volunteers and should also be recognized.

So this week, be sure to celebrate yourself, your friends, and those in your community who make a meaningful difference to your kids and others. Recognize these wonderful do-gooders that go by the name of:

Room Parent
Coach
Scout Leader
Sunday School Teacher
Library Aide
Team Mom
Playground Monitor
Classroom Helper
Carpool Anchor

It’s also a great idea to teach our kids that they should show their appreciation for all of the good people do to make their lives and the world a better place. Whether it’s by a simple “thank you” to a coach or mentor, or by doing one of the following to recognize parent volunteers:

  • Thank You Sign – Take a photo of your child (or the class or team) holding a large “Thank You!” sign and text it to parent volunteers or post it on their Facebook wall.
  • Video Shout – Apps like Tout and Viddy let you take a short (15 to 30 second) video (think kids shouting “Thank You”) and post to email or social channels with a click.
  • Treats – A small latte, muffin, or chocolate bar with a handwritten note of appreciation can go a long way. Let these special parents know how much you appreciate their time and talents shared with your kids.

These small tributes will show the parent volunteers in your life how much you appreciate their help throughout the year and also inspire them to continue their good deeds. For more ideas like these, check out the free eBook Volunteer Recognition From A-Z and help make this National Volunteer Week a great one for everyone.

VolunteerSpot is proud to save parents, teachers, and volunteer leaders hundreds of hours by simplifying the task of signing up, scheduling, and reminding volunteers – reducing your busy work and leaving you more time to focus on what’s important. Use VolunteerSpot to coordinate all the good work you do at school, teams, faith groups, nonprofits, and in the workplace! Take a tour today.

Image: Volunteering Hands via Shutterstock

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What Does it Mean to Make a Difference?

Friday, October 26th, 2012

Tomorrow is National Make a Difference Day, a day when people of all ages are encouraged to get out and volunteer in their communities (you can find service events in your area here).  Projects range from planting trees to volunteering at a food bank to painting a preschool. And while, of course, helping out in this way is necessary and awesome and encouraged, the concept also made me think about the little ways we make a difference in each other’s lives everyday. The things we do that maybe we don’t even give a second thought to.

 

Think back and recall the times in your life when someone did something for you that, to this day, still means something to you. For me, a couple things spring to mind. The first was when I first moved to New York City and knew very few people. There was a man who stood at my subway stop and gave out newspapers, but more importantly, he greeted everyone with a smile and a warm, genuine, “Good morning.” Those who frequented that station often took a break from their commute to stop and chat with him. As someone who was still uncertain what I was doing in a big, bustling city, it helped to have a reminder that there are kind people wherever you go, even in a place thought to be the most neurotic and unfriendly in America by a survey of 620,000 people. The other act of kindness that stands out is when I was running a marathon 5 years ago. My friend’s father was also running it, and at around the 20-mile mark, when I was s-t-r-u-g-g-l-i-n-g, he came up from behind me and ran with me the rest of the way. He didn’t do anything especially out of the ordinary. He just stuck with me (when he could easily have run ahead of me and gotten a better time), talked to me, and took my mind off the ache in my legs. I didn’t ask him to run with me, but it was exactly what I needed at the time.

 

I’ll bet you’re making a difference in your child’s life by doing things you don’t give a second thought, too: Making him stick to his bedtime so he gets a good night’s sleep, giving him a hug, or offering him an apple instead of the cookies that he’d prefer. These things may be small, your child may even resent you (now) for a couple of them, but they matter.

 

Who would you like to thank for making a difference in your life? Big or small, share your stories of kindness in the comments. And go out and pay it forward tomorrow (or any ol’ day) by volunteering, bringing new parents in your neighborhood a home cooked meal, or greeting others with a friendly smile.

 

Image: “Make a Difference” stickie.

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Engage Your Kids in the Election

Monday, September 17th, 2012

History is always in the making. Important events that your kids will read about one day are happening now. We offered some tips for raising a good citizen, and this election season is the perfect time to get your kids excited about civics.

We spoke with Michael J. Berson, Ph.D., professor of social science education at the University of South Florida, about ways to engage your children during this exciting time in history.

1.  Hold a mock vote at home.

The Electoral College can be difficult even for adults to understand and kids may not be able to grasp the concept of the popular vote. A better way to familiarize kids with the notion of voting is by holding a mock election at home.

“Your family can vote on small things, like what to have for dinner that night,” says Dr. Berson. “The idea is to show them the power of choice, which they will carry with them later in life.”

But what happens when one sibling outvotes the other’s choice of mac ‘n’ cheese for dinner? Show your child how to “campaign” for her favorite meal the next night! This will not only teach her how to react when she don’t get her way, but will also help her understand how to enact positive change for an issue she cares about.

2. Read to your kids about elections

“One of the best ways to teach your children about the political process is by reading to them,” says Dr. Berson. “Read biographies of former presidents and don’t forget to read about first ladies as well.”

Here are some of our favorites: 

Ages 4–8: Woodrow for President: A Tail of Voting Campaigns and Elections by Peter and Cheryl Barnes

 Ages 4–8: So You Want to be President? by Judith St. George

Ages 9 and up: Lincoln: A Photobiography by Russell Freedman

Ages 9 and up: First Ladies (DK Eyewitness Book) by Amy Pastan

 

3. Avoid negative TV ads

We often leave the TV commercials on in the background without thinking about them, but negative political ads could send the wrong message to kids. “It’s important for children to have visuals of the candidates,” says Dr. Berson. “Try muting the TV when negative ads come on and use the visuals to explain in positive terms who the candidate is and what issue the ad is talking about.”

 4. Attend political events as a family

This is a great way to for kids to participate in an election, but not all political events are appropriate for children. “Younger children may be frightened by hecklers or negative protestors at speeches and rallies,” says Dr. Berson. “A more developmentally-appropriate option would be to attend a parade that a candidate is in.”

5. Show your patriotism

It may not be appropriate to dress your child in t-shirts or stickers that promote a candidate they are too young to fully understand. Dr. Berson says that a better option is to give your child a flag to wave if you are attending a political event.

6. Keep it positive

Dr. Berson says that it’s good to show children your sense of connection to a particular party or candidate. However, you should always speak respectfully of opposing parties. Teaching your child to respect both sides is a great lesson that will carry over into other relationships in his life.

7. Discuss platforms, not parties

Encourage your child to create his own opinions by talking to him about different sides of issues as opposed to talking about the different parties.

8. Relate the election to your home and community

The best way for kids to understand politics on a national scale is by showing them ways to actively get involved in their home or community. You can start by letting your kids think of ways to improve the area around them by working on community service projects that they are passionate about. Sites like Volunteer Match, Do Something and The Volunteer Family offer great ways to learn about kid-friendly service opportunities in your community.

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Interview: Harry Connick, Jr., His Daughter, and Their ‘American Girl’ Collaboration

Monday, September 12th, 2011

I recently had the chance to sit down with singer and actor Harry Connick, Jr. and his 13-year-old daughter Kate to talk about their partnership with American Girl as well as Harry’s parenting experience. American Girl’s newest dolls, Cécile and Marie-Grace, are from New Orleans circa 1853.  Despite their different appearances and backgrounds, the girls become best friends. To accompany the release of the dolls, Harry wrote a song about friendship, “A Lot Like Me,” and Kate recorded it. All proceeds from downloads of the song benefit the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, a performance space and center for music education in New Orleans.

Harry and Kate

How did you become involved in this partnership with American Girl?
Harry: American Girl was interested in two New Orleans–themed dolls, and I’m from New Orleans, so they wanted to see what I had to offer. We thought it would be cool to have Kate be a part of it too. We like working together anyway, so I couldn’t think of anybody better to sing a song that I wrote. Kate truly lives the message of, ‘It doesn’t matter what’s on the outside, it’s all about what’s on the inside.’

The song is aimed at young girls. What was it like to write for a younger audience?
Harry: It’s just a matter of writing what feels best for me. I read the stories and thought they were great. The message was so clear, it wasn’t difficult to come up with a way to try to express that with a piece of music.

What do you hope girls take away from this song?
Kate: I hope they learn, as my dad said, that it’s what’s on the inside, not on the outside [that matters]. I’ve been able to travel the world and see the different backgrounds that people come from and the different religions that they follow. I’ve realized that it’s not about what they look like.

What’s important in your friendships? What do you look for in your friends?
Kate: I look for trust, loyalty, and kindness. I think if you have those three things then you have something special.

You two share an interest in music. Do you plan to collaborate in the future?
Harry: I hope we get to do something again. My life is spontaneous and things just kind of happen. I look forward to years and years of working with Kate in different capacities. (more…)

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Good Deed for National Foster Care Month

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

dogoodvsat-nodateIn honor of National Foster Care Month in May, the Toy Industry Foundation and My Stuff Bags Foundation are hosting the 3rd Annual Do Good Stuff-a-Thon, in which volunteers pull together duffel bags full of toys, toiletries, clothing, and other essentials for needy kids in foster care. If you are interested in helping out, the Virtual Do Good Stuff-a-Thon site is set up to collect donations. Click here to participate or find out more information.

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