Doing Good Together December 2007 Newsletter

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Doing Good Together Newsletter )
Helping strengthen kids and communities through family volunteerism... December 2007
in this issue
  • Make Motions to Incorporate Service this Year
  • Consider the Meaning of Service Initiatives
  • Inspiration
  • One Family's Story
  • News From DGT

  • One of the joys of the season is the increased focus on charity and generosity, which is why-as you may have discovered-nonprofit organizations are inundated with volunteers this time of year! That's great, but this might also be a good time to consider how you can extend your feelings of goodwill beyond the holidays-after the gifts have been unwrapped and the decorations taken down. We describe some possible traditions you can weave into your family's life in 2008, so that time spent with your children truly reflects your values and ideals. Wishing all of you a holiday season filled with delight.

    Jenny Friedman, Executive Director

    Make Motions to Incorporate Service this Year

    Make a Difference... Along with your new exercise plan, think about a New Year's resolution that will begin a family tradition of giving and serving. Here are some simple (and fun!) ideas:

  • Designate one Saturday morning (or Sunday afternoon or weekday evening) each month as your "Doing Good Together" time-an occasion set aside for reaching out. Your family can clean up your local park, make a blanket, pack a hygiene kit, create a card for an ill child or deliver food to a food shelf.
  • Actively engage your child in the service opportunities already offered at your school, faith group or in your community. For example, if your child's class sponsors a food drive, contribute food but avoid the temptation to root out some unused canned goods from the pantry and toss them thoughtlessly into your child's backpack. Instead, go to the grocery store to personally select donatable items together. Talk about how important it is for everyone to get adequate nutrition and which foods would be most helpful.
  • Post a list on your refrigerator of 12 service projects that your family plans to accomplish in 2008. When you complete one, recognize your efforts by placing a star sticker next to the item or adding a page to your "Doing Good Together" scrapbook or photo album.
  • Find an ongoing project your family can be involved in each week or each month or each season. It might be a Meals on Wheels route, a monthly visit to a nursing home, or a seasonal environmental project.
  • Create your own family tradition. Then tell us about it. We'd love to share your idea with others.
  • Consider the Meaning of Service Initiatives
    The Lemon Tree

    Talk About It No matter which tradition of volunteering your family adopts, have conversations about how to make the project valuable. You want it to be truly helpful to those you serve, and meaningful and educational for you and your children.

  • Discuss how to reach out in ways that are respectful and meet real needs. Tell your children to imagine being in the other person's shoes, and then ask how hey would like to be treated.
  • Help your kids understand the broader issues that are at play when we all volunteer, whether it's for homelessness or global warming.
  • Encourage your child to be actively engaged by allowing them to help decide where to volunteer. Also let them assist in developing solutions to problems that may arise.
  • When talking with your family, direct your conversations more toward the similarities that exist between people rather than the differences, such as when discussing your family and the family you sponsored for holiday gift giving, or your child and the children at a battered women's shelter.
  • Learn About It In Under the Lemon Moonby Edith Hope Fine, the theft of lemons from Rosalinda's lemon tree leads her to an understanding of generosity and forgiveness. The story deals with the pain of being robbed of a treasure, and also, by showing the thief with his impoverished family, conveys the need for compassion. Rene King Moreno's watercolor and pastel drawings of the Mexican countryside are delightful.

    Photo: Under the Lemon Moon by Edith Hope Fine


    A civilization flourishes when people plant trees under whose shade they will never sit.

    -Greek Proverb

    One Family's Story
    Stephanie Zahrbock, her husband Greg,  Sabrina & Quentin

    When Stephanie Zahrbock was gathered with family after the holidays one year, they made a dramatic discovery: "We realized we had very little need for Christmas gifts," says Zahrbock, of Edina, Minn. The group of 19 family members ultimately decided to pare down to two gifts: a pooled extended family "giving gift" and a gift-exchange present. Since then, Zahrbock and her relatives have pooled money each year to fund one or more different agreed-upon charities. Their list of choices reads like a who's who of family volunteerism. The first year they sponsored a holiday family through a local Community Action Program ( ). Each individual family was assigned to buy a specific gift for a member of the sponsored family.  The next year they all sponsored a family again, but they also split some reserved funds to aid a local family in crisis and provide food for their local community food shelf.  The third year they participated in the Toys for Tots toy drive (www.toysfortots. org). Recognizing the strong enthusiasm among family members for the hands-on aspect of the toy drop, last year they opted to fund Feed My Starving Children ( and to spend a family group evening packing food to send to hungry people worldwide. That event was so popular with the children that the group is hoping to repeat it again this year.

    Photo: Stephanie Zahrbock with her husband, Greg Loxtercamp, and their children Sabrina and Quentin

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    News From DGT

    News from DGT This story in the White Bear Lake community newspaper describes a project from one of our most recent school partnerships. It is a great example of the kind of success (and fun!) Doing Good Together has enjoyed as we've worked with organizations around the Twin Cities.

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