Whether you are a parent or a teacher, one of our desires is to teach our kids to show kindness to others. Our actions are one way to reflect God’s love.
Here are some familiar and some different suggestions to show kindness this Christmas. With some, you could include a note about Christ’s purpose for coming to earth.
- Get your kids up early and shovel the neighbor’s driveway (or neighbors’ driveways). This is especially appreciated if your neighbor needs to leave for work at a fairly early hour.
- Church option: (Only do this with older kids who are responsible and will be very, very careful). If the snow starts coming down during a service, supply a group of teens with scrapers and/or Ice Melt and have them clean off windshields. This will be a welcomed surprise!
- Make some care packages to hand out at laundromats. They could include small boxes of detergent (or a ziplock back of laundry pods), a snack, and maybe some change!
- Offer to babysit for a single mom so she can go Christmas shopping or meet a friend for coffee. (Your personal kids could be part of this by helping to entertain the children.)
- Have the kids make mugs for visitors at church. They could paint designs on the outside, fill with ingredients for hot chocolate or tea, and write a welcome note. Yes, lots of churches do this, but how many welcome mugs are designed by the church kids?
- Pay for the person behind you in the drive-thru line. Again, not too uncommon, but why not do this when your kids are in the car. (A mom with a carload of kids paid for my meal at McDonald’s one day. She did it because she thought she had cut me off – which she had – but I wasn’t in a hurry and didn’t think anything about it, but she paid and had the cashiers apologize to me both at the pay window and the food window. Again, I hadn’t thought twice about her cutting me off, except thinking, “that lady is driving around a lot of kids and look like she’s having a hassled day.” But later I thought, what a good example that mom was to those kids – to say she was sorry and reach out to me with kindness.)
- Make gift packages for people who are alone. Sometimes we forget that there are people who receive no presents for Christmas. If someone doesn’t have a family or close friends and maybe is homebound, they might not receive much kindness. What can you and your kids do to bring some cheer? Gift packages could include treats (something to eat), a DVD (something to watch), an adult coloring book and pencils (something to do), etc. Be imaginative. Ask your kids what you should include. Kids come up with great ideas! Think about it – who do you know who doesn’t have a family? (Don’t just think of older people, this could also be a young, single person who recently moved to your area.)
- Make tie blankets for church shut-ins or to say thank-you for church staff. They are easy for older kids to do and several can work on them at a time. Directions are on the web.
- Give compliments where compliments are deserved. Recently a friend and I stopped for ice cream. We were in a tourist area and the place was jammed. Only one young girl worked behind the counter, patiently filling every order for shakes, sodas, sundaes, cones. More and more people came in and it soon became apparent that the two people who were to help her didn’t show. She was young – maybe 16 or so – and she was friendly and competent, never losing her patience in spite of the sometimes complicated orders. As my friend and I sat at a table and ate our cones, a couple other workers finally came in. One older lady seemed surprised that the young girl had no help. Her tag said assistant manager, so I stopped her. I could tell she was expecting me to yell about the slow service. But instead I said, “I want you to know your employee treated each customer with efficiency and courtesy. She did a great job in a tough situation.” The manager said she’d definitely remember what I said and thanked me for speaking up. I don’t always take the time to pay a compliment – but I should. Let’s look for ways to give a well-deserved compliment. that girl had a frustrating night. Hopefully my encouraging words to her manager helped make it not so bad.
- Hand out gift cards to homeless people. Collect them all year and then take kids to a city or an area where people are living on the streets and hand them out.
What other unique service projects have you done with your kids?