Last year, we spent one full day in December with MiniMac doing acts of service and kindness. We filled the backseat of my car with toys for a shelter (all of which were toys he picked out.) We bought gift cards at Starbucks and passed them out to people in line. We took dozens of cookies to fire stations, banks, and a Christmas tree farm. We even stopped by to visit some workers at a hand carwash to have one of them talk to my son about crunk. (We might skip that stop this year.) I have a long list of wishes for our son. One of them is that when he is an adult he will remember the constant iteration that being philanthropic and charitable is not only easy, it is a necessity.
We started December 1 with a reminder that acts of service and kindness are easy. My Mom is in town for the Thanksgiving holiday and we went to Starbucks on Saturday. After our purchase, I give my credit card to MiniMac and tell him to pay for the beverage of the person at the front of the order line as a way of saying Happy Holidays. He went to her, told her he would like to pay for her coffee and she gave him the biggest smile. He then handed her my credit card and turned and walked back to me and Grammy. Whoops. We need to clarify the logistics but the positive take away was: him smiling, her smiling and the guy behind the counter smiling. The price of doing goodness? $3.19.
When we exited, I asked Mini if he remembered why we do nice things for strangers. Answer I was hoping for: So they in turn will do something nice for someone else. His answer: So they will do something nice right back to me. Well, good option but we can expand on that a bit. We are currently working on our list for acts of service for the remainder of the month.
For the past several years, I have posted a blog at the beginning of every December called 31 Days of Goodness which are compilations of opportunities to give time, money or heart to worthwhile organizations. For a great overview you can find each list:
31 Days of Goodness December 2009
31 Days of Goodness December 2010
31 Days of Goodness December 2011
31 Days of Goodness December 2012
This year, I am going to highlight a few at a time.
For my Mom and all others that love horses: Save a Forgotten Equine (SAFE). This group vows to make a difference in the lives of at-risk equines. I didn't realize the number of equines at risk until the blizzard in South Dakota earlier this year. As a horse owner, this is a critical issue to my Mom and I am happy to pass it along.
As I have shared on Memorial Day and Veteran's Day, there are many willing to go and do what I am not willing to go and do to protect our country and all of our freedoms. For those who come home altered and broken, there is an organization called Wounded Warrior whose vision is to foster the most successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded service members in our nation's history.
In Disney a few weeks ago, Mini and I briefly spoke to a Make-A-Wish child. Nothing will snap your perspective back in to shape more quickly than seeing a family, filled with true wonder and amazement as their terminally ill child embraces all of the magical aspects of Disney. What I did not realize is there is an adult version of this program granting wishes to terminally ill adults called The Dream Foundation.
One of the teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary, Kaitlin Roig-DeBellis, who saved her class from the tragic events last December started an organization teaching children compassion through the classroom. Classes4Classes engages teachers and students to pay it forward by supporting classes in need. When a class receives a gift, they find a classroom to donate to going forward.
December is only made better by sharing it with a 6 year old. It is a wonderful time of year to see things differently but also realize that with every impression we make on our son about charity, empathy, service and honor, we are shaping his life and his potential as a future leader. It is hard work but so incredibly worth it.