If you’re like me, you’ve probably seen and read all the hype about simple living. Edit your life! Less is more! Simplify, simplify, simplify!
While I’m all about this in theory, I’m a work in progress when it comes to practice. Our family has taken baby steps, and I will admit that each step forward brings about a bit more breathing room, and in turn, a bit more happiness.
Whether by happenstance or because I’ve got simple living on the brain, the concept of simplicity has made its way into our service. Our church is participating in Village House, an interfaith program through which 15 homeless women are provided shelter and services through the winter. The program relies on volunteers to offer a variety of support, from providing medical care to serving as campus watch.
Our family signed up for laundry duty. Once a week, we collect a dirty laundry bag belonging to one of the guests. We bring it home, wash, dry, and fold the clothes, and return the bag that evening, all without ever seeing the woman whose laundry we just folded.
It’s been an interesting experience in service because not only is the act super simple (who doesn’t enjoy a pile of freshly laundered clothes?), it is also anonymous. I started brainstorming other simple, anonymous acts of service we could do as a family and was totally inspired!
Here’s the best of the bunch for those of you who want to give it a try. Maybe you’ll find that simple giving is the first step towards simple living.
13 Simple Giving Ideas
- Walk your shopping cart back to the front of the store. Better yet, offer to take someone else’s cart! (I have been the recipient of this while juggling two toddlers and was sooooo grateful!)
- Next time you bake cookies, make an extra batch for your local fire department, police department, or nursing home.
- Bring a trash bag with you to the park and collect litter you find along the way. (But please remember to wear gloves!)
- Pick up a few extra groceries to donate during your next shopping trip. Most stores collect donations on site.
- Pay for a stranger’s bus fare or cup of coffee. Perhaps you’ll start a pay-it-forward trend!
- We have a difficult time when we come across someone asking for help at an intersection. Keep granola bars or bus tokens in your car to give when you encounter someone asking for help. Or if you want to go further, make a few sock sacks to keep in the car and pass out when needed. Fill a new pair of socks with individually wrapped snacks and a water bottle. It will be a useful and portable treat for them to enjoy.
- Remember all those packets of crayons you collected from restaurants? Donate them to a local preschool or family shelter. You could even start a Crayon Collection!
- Leave a nice note or poem for your mail carrier to enjoy.
- Help someone with a stroller get through a door or around an obstacle. (Again, I’ve been the recipient of this and was very grateful!)
- Like to craft? Make greeting cards or paper flower arrangements for your local hospital or nursing home.
- Give your neighbor a heart attack! Simply cut up a bunch of hearts from pink, red or purple paper, write sweet messages on them, and tape them on your neighbor’s outside front windows. Pinterest is your go-to place for more ideas like this (Boo Grams, Candy Grams, etc.)
- Are you the next David Blaine or Harry Houdini? Take your magic show on the road to a local children’s hospital or nursing home.
- Last but not least, open the door for someone else. It doesn’t get much simpler than that!