"As we work to create light for others, we naturally light our own way." - Mary Ann Radmacher
Making THIS Summer Meaningful
By Jessica Barga, PGK Contributor
The days are getting longer, milder and greener (in some cases, downright hot!): There's no doubt summer is on the way. After a long, dreary winter, I'm finding myself more motivated to get out and do things than I have been in months.
Summer is wonderful for spending time with friends and family or perhaps traveling, but it's also a perfect time to shift our focus to helping others. Kids, teens and adults can all find a variety of fun, meaningful ways to get involved in their communities this season; check out some ideas below, or discover even more ideas on the PGK site and mobile app.
- Pick one habit on which you normally spend money — like getting ice cream or coffee — and put the money aside every once in a while to donate. At the end of the summer, add it up and see how much you've been able to give!
- Talk with friends, family members and neighbors about causes that are important to you. You might find someone has an idea to get involved or wants to learn more about something you can share. (After all, we all need to find our inspiration somewhere.)
- Take part in a local park, beach or river cleanup day – there are several to choose from on the PGK website and app!
- Donate a case or two of bottled water to your local food pantry. During the hot summer months, it's especially helpful.
- Send a card to someone who could use some cheering up, like a friend who’s ill or has moved far away.
While you’re giving back this summer, share your story with us: We’re looking for short videos from kids and teens about their summer service experiences. Click here to quickly submit your story and provide a little inspiration to other volunteers this summer!
Remember: Your actions don’t have to be huge to be meaningful. And as Max Lucado says, “No one has to do everything, but everyone has to do something.” What will your ‘something’ be this summer?
Creating a Giving Kids Day
By Amy Johnson, Outreach & Marketing Manager, PGK - Bay Area
I recently volunteered in my daughter’s preschool, organizing a Giving Kids Day. What a wonderful experience, from start to finish! Using the PGK website, we found three age-appropriate, fun projects for the kids to complete: assembling snack bags for the homeless, making cat toys for shelter animals, and decorating cards for homebound seniors.
We got started with a discussion about what it means to be a helper. The kids quickly made connections to their own lives, discussing classroom jobs and sharing ways they like to help out at home. Each project had an adult helper, and the students rotated through each. It was amazing to see how focused they were on the projects. The cat toys were challenging for many, but they persevered, many shouting in excitement, “I finally got it!” I was impressed by how much time and care they put into their cards for seniors. Each card truly reflected their love and kindness. And to my surprise, their favorite activity was assembling snack bags. The kids liked it so much, many asked to assemble more. One sweet girl asked if she could add a second water bottle to her bag, noting one bottle was not enough to stay hydrated. Bless her little heart!
We wrapped up the morning with a debrief of the activities and discussion about ways they can continue to be helpers. Their teacher read The Giving Tree later that day, and many of the kids continued to work on cards and toys during quiet time for the remainder of the week. Inspired and impressed by the morning, the teachers have already discussed ways they can bring more service projects to the classroom.
It’s really that simple. Take a few simple projects; add the love of youngsters; stir; and make magic. Want to arrange a Giving Kids Day in your preschool or elementary school? The following steps will help you get started:
- Use the PGK website to find local projects or ideas- focus on assembly style or arts and crafts projects to keep those little ones engaged!
- Ask each of the families to donate a portion of the supplies (24 granola bars, 36 note cards, 50 Ziploc bags, etc.) Supplies should be due a few days before the event, as you may need time to fill in missing items.
- Begin the day with a discussion or book about giving.
- Talk to the kids about what they are doing and why. Ask them how it makes them feel to be helping others. These discussions will help them make stronger, lasting connections to service.
- Take time to reflect and debrief with the kids. They will be so proud to see how much they accomplished together!
- Don’t forget to share their work with the community –parents, school, social media, etc. It’s heartwarming to see little ones giving back, and you may inspire others to follow in your footsteps!
To The Mothers This Mother's Day
By Molly Yuska, PGK Founder
It's Mother's Day, and I can’t help but reflect on the multitude of ways being a mother has changed me. I not only have a new appreciation for all my mom went through trying to raise me to become a confident and capable young woman, but I also recognize with deeper appreciation how critical the role is we mothers play in our children’s development in forming good human beings.
In a world full of distraction, temptation, and egocentric messaging, true intentionality is required of parents today in a way that is perhaps greater than ever before. Yet because of all those distractions, it is often harder today, I think, to always keep the eyes on the prize, so to speak. But I am also convinced, it IS possible.
I have watched my now teenager go from the innocent, awe-inspired child I once knew who so readily soaked up those early moments of service we enjoyed together, to a budding young man with an awareness of the world and the role he plays in it. While weekend soccer games, school dances, seemingly endless homework, and so many other things occupy our time and focus, there is still regular discussion about how we are living our lives to better the lives of those we have the chance to touch, and moments still carved out to make sure we are doing as well as talking.
As our spread stretches from said teenager to toddler, I will be thinking this Mother’s Day about the privilege and obligation I have to be the one mother my kids have on this earth. And while I may take this one day to relax from my duties just a little, I will remember that my respite from instilling the value of hard work, honesty, compassion, and service must be (relatively) short if I hope to see the outcome I so longingly desire.
And just as importantly, I will also remind myself to cut myself a little slack when I come up short - each day is filled with enough moments to make this happen. The race is long, and we have all the ingredients we need to make the magic.
Happy Mother’s Day to moms everywhere. May you feel loved and appreciated for all that you are and all that you do!