Tuesday, January 17, 2017

New Year's Resolutions? Service calls!

I can not believe that this is the 3rd week of 2017 AND that I haven't written a post in 6 months!  Life is beyond busy....just beyond.  It is that reason exactly that I was both determined and terrified by what I knew had to be my "New Year's Resolution".  

Do you make resolutions every year? I confess that usually I do not. The few times I have made a resolution I have never managed to stick with it or see it through.  I realized that making the resolutions typically just leave me feeling like a failure when I don't stay with it.  However, this year I decided to make a resolution for my entire family (yep, dragging them in with me and I didn't ask their permission!) and we are going to see it through!  

I have a ton of excuses for why I don't volunteer as much as I used to or as much as I want or as much as I feel I should be.  "For who much has been given much is expected."....can't remember who said it but I do believe it.  We are a blessed family and I know that. While we have a lot of responsibilities and challenges within our own four walls I know that we still have a lot that we can give outside of those walls. I used to do a lot on my own in regards to volunteering with church, school and even, for a couple of years, with a local pregnancy care center, but as our children increased my time decreased until I feel like I do almost nothing any more outside of my home.  We also used to spend a lot of time giving back to our community as a family, but with the addition of my littlest ones over the last few years we have also nearly stopped doing any volunteering as a family. Well, this year that is going to change. 

My "resolution" this year is really about being intentional more than anything else. I am resolving to be intentional about something that is important to me - giving back, volunteering, loving and serving others. And it is something I want to model to my children (even if that means listening to them grumble and complain about it - let's be honest!)  the way that my Savior modeled it for us and to hopefully teach them it's really an important part of our lives.

We actually started our resolution back in November, but I officially handed the mandate down to my children while on vacation as a family over the holidays a couple of weeks ago.  
The resolution: "We will be participating in serving, volunteering and/or giving back to our community and others around us in at least one intentional way each month." 

Typing that out doesn't make it sound like a lot, but I have to tell you that I was already panicking about what we were going to do in January as I looked forward to the rest of the month and realized that we had no more available weekends!  So this past Friday night I realized we had some time on Saturday and I planned our "give-back" activity for Saturday afternoon. After some grumbling and fussing about it, the kids (all 5 of them!) actually got into it and were happy to participate by the end of the activity. 

What did we do Saturday?  We collected sporting equipment for a charity that's local branch was started by a family that we are connected with in our community called Ohio Cleats for Kids (C4K).  You can check them out on Facebook here

We designated an hour for our family to "divide and conquer"! My husband and I tackled the mudroom and garage areas and we sent each kid to his or her room to go through closets, drawers, under beds (lets be real - that is where most of their unused sporting equipment ends up and I have no idea why!), etc. and come down with everything they have that cold be donated. We ended up with a good bin of supplies including gymnastics outfits that no longer fit the girls (sniff, sniff - they are growing too fast), cleats, gym shoes and both soccer and football pads and equipment.  After loading it all up with all piled in the car and drove it to a drop off bin so they could all participate in seeing the entire project through. 

We chose this bin at Scene 75 in Milford, OH since we were going to be in that area.

That was all it took and I know that small amount of time and effort (even though it felt much bigger trying to get all 5 kids to participate "joyfully"!) it will be a BIG impact on others in our community. 

In preparation for the coming months I have reached out to many different area charities to find out their volunteer policies (ages, times, place, etc).  In case anyone reading this would like the info on the charities I reached out to so that your family can spend some time giving back this year, I have listed them below with links:

FreeStore Foodbank: Volunteer opportunities for ages 5 years old and up. During months of harvest they have a farm in Melbourne, KY that you can visit with your kids and help them by spending some time working in the fields. Learn more about Giving Fields Farm here

Matthew 25 Ministries:  volunteer opportunities year round for all ages. No need to call ahead or plan your visit - just show up and they will put you to work :)  We have volunteered here many times as a family over the years and it is really a great place for the family to work together with other families and the projects are always changing. 

Hands Against Hunger (A Child's Hope International): I LOVE this ministry and what they believe and how they support families and children not just around the world but also right here in Cincinnati. Families can go to their facility and work together for 2 hour time blocks to package enough food to feed a child for 1 YEAR! Imagine if everyone you knew just gave 2 hours a month?! Go to their website here to see the packing schedule and sign up for your day of service.

I had mentioned earlier that our family started our volunteering/serving back in November. We started by going to a woman's home who we knew was ill and unable to work in her yard to clean up all the leaves that had fallen over the last month. My husband and I talked about how we could assist her and briefly talked about sending our landscapers out to her house and paying the bill for her. In the end we decided it would be more meaningful for her and our kids if we helped her as a family so that is what we did. We packed up the kids, our rakes, and leaf blower and headed out. Unfortunately the morning we had set aside to do the work it began raining and it was cold. The kids were grumbling and upset that we were "making them do this"! I can't tell you how many times they complained and asked why we had to do this and why she couldn't have someone else do it.  I stuck it out. It was cold and it was hard work - there were WAY more leaves than I realized and our little couple of hour job ended up taking us the half of the day. 
The best part though was that the kids got to see how this act of service impacted this woman. They realized how she was a real person who needed help and how much what they were dong was truly making an impact in her life. She just couldn't believe that we would come out and do all of this work and not ask for anything in return.  That we were just there to show her love. The next day (yes it took and entire day for them to come around!) my boys were starting to talk about how cool it was that we were able to help her and to do it as a family.  And we were even talking about naming something that was a good memory for you over the last few weeks at dinner a couple of weeks later and my youngest son said that he really liked doing the leaf raking together - WIN!

Then in December we had to opportunity to volunteer with Hands Against Hunger where our church hosted a family event packaging 30,000 meals!  We volunteered together for 2 hours in that event and even my little ones (4 year olds) got to help fill the packages. I am looking forward to going to their warehouse and doing this again with the family soon. 

Of course there are many many ways to volunteer and help serve others in our community and around the world but I hope that this gets you going and helps you to step out with your family. What a difference in the world we can make if we can just set aside a little of our time each month or week or year to love and serve others :) 

Happy New Year and make this a GREAT 2017!


P.S. I have had some messages about doing "outfit posts". I know I haven't done one in a long time - even before the last time I posted. I will do my best to update with an outfit post soon. Thanks for reading and being patient!