Do Good, Together

By Susie Pigg

Encouraging a giving heart in your young ones

Our checklists on parenting are endless: remember to brush teeth, which school should they attend, how much TV is too much TV? Somewhere between the challenges, joys and decisions, we are called to cultivate a heart for their community. Call it activism, volunteering or just being a good neighbor, but when — and how —we can grow that desire in the hearts and minds of our children is important.

One way our family chose to begin planting these seeds was on our twins’ first birthday. It felt like it would be a regular weekday and I wanted to mark the day with something special. I woke up and thought, “Why not do something for someone else?” So, we stopped at Shipley’s, grabbed a few boxes of doughnuts and started making the rounds. We brought some to our local library where we had been benefiting from story time, some to our beloved pediatrician’s office and some back to our labor and delivery unit. Lastly, we dropped off a box at our local police station in Woodway. The day instantly felt sweet because we were celebrating with a purpose — thanking those in our community who had been important to us.

The tradition has continued every year and this past September when my twins turned 6, they asked, “Mom, can we bring doughnuts to the firefighters and police in the morning?” My heart is so thankful that they’re thinking of others before themselves on their special day. That doesn’t mean they aren’t excited for presents, cake and a party, but this tiny habit of reflecting gratitude to others makes an impact — I believe — in their character and heart. What a great present for their dad and me!

Unsure where to start? There are many ways to incorporate a love for community and doing good for others. Think about what/who is important to your family. Is there an organization you’d like to become involved with? Do you have someone in your circle or in the circle of a friend that could use an extra set of hands, a willing heart or a good attitude? What organization has made a difference in your life?

And ask your kids! You can learn a lot by asking them how they’d like to give back and get involved. I think most adults would be surprised at how generous kids are with their time, talents and desire to help others. Perhaps your son who has been studying guitar could volunteer to play at a retirement community while the rest of the family passes out cookies? Perhaps your daughter’s love for wildlife leads your family to volunteer at different state parks picking up trash or she may choose to lead nature walks with neighborhood kids.

More ideas to bless others:

See an elderly neighbor? Mow their grass or carry in their groceries.

Bring finished books to local lending libraries; most Woodway parks have at least one.

Have a lemonade stand and ask your kids where to donate the money.

Write letters/draw pictures of encouragement to teachers, principals or your school board.

Mark special holidays: ex. pick out a tree to plant together on Arbor Day.

I asked my twins to offer their own ideas for this article. My son Luke said, “If a neighbor has a new baby, offer to hold the baby so the mommy can run an errand.” My daughter Claire said, “If you know someone who is sick, make them a meal because they don’t feel well.”

That good we are pouring out will never end with us. Your children will grow up and remember. Your neighbors will remember. And one day, someone will bring you some homemade cookies when you’re feeling down, one day you will look outside and see your trash cans were brought down, one day you’ll remember a stranger offering to take a picture of you and your kids at the zoo — one day.

Community isn’t just about us, and it isn’t just about others, it’s about all of us, together. Your children will grow to see that life is deeper and dearer as they enjoy their community through helping, learning and engaging. So, what can your family do to spread some good?