Doing Good Together January 2009 Newsletter

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Doing Good Together Newsletter )
Helping strengthen kids and communities through family volunteerism... January 2009
in this issue
  • Small Bites that Make a Big Difference
  • Creating a Culture of Service in 2009
  • Inspiration
  • Family Story
  • News From DGT
  • Experts say that the key to keeping our New Year's resolutions is to set realistic goals and take small steps towards integrating those intentions into our lives. In case you have a resolution to engage your family in community service, we rounded up our favorite ideas from the past year. These simple projects require no sign-up, no ongoing commitment - just an extra hour or two, right in your own home. Yet each activity can make a real difference in someone's life and could begin a rich tradition of service in your family.

    Jenny Friedman, Executive Director

    Small Bites that Make a Big Difference

    Make a Difference...

    Try out a sampling of these small, easy "kitchen table" service projects.

  • Create greeting cards for children who are ill. Visit or for details.
  • Make something special for Meals on Wheels recipients. These programs love having "extras" to hand out to folks. Make placemats, cards, sun catchers or other small gifts. Visit to find the program near you. Call and let them know what you'd like to donate, or ask what items their clients would most appreciate.
  • Color pictures. Create drawings that will be distributed to nursing homes, Meals on Wheels programs and other groups in need of cheer. Visit for the mailing address and more information.
  • Create a no-sew fleece blanket for a child in need of comfort. Click here for easy instructions. For donation information, visit Binky Patrol or Project Linus. View this online video together with your children to see how much difference a blanket can make in a child's life.
  • Creating a Culture of Service in 2009
    Boxes for Katie

    Talk About It...

    Let your children know that you would like to begin a family tradition of service in 2009.

  • Describe the "kitchen table" service projects and see which appeal to your child. Set aside a Saturday morning or specific weekday evening to complete one or more projects. Talk about the difference you've made.
  • Ask your children what projects or ideas they have for giving back. Have them think about what talents and gifts they might share with others and what issues matter to them.
  • Try to implement some of their ideas together as a family. Maybe they'd like to host a fundraiser for an animal shelter, tidy up your neighborhood park or collect children's books for a local family shelter. It's empowering for children to initiate a project that comes to life.
  • Be sure to send us an email and describe what your family has accomplished so can consider highlighting it in an upcoming newsletter!
  • Learn About It...

    Boxes for Katjeby Candace Fleming; illustrated by Stacey Dressen-McQueen (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003). Ages 4-8. When Rosie, a young girl living in Mayfield, Indiana, after World War II, learns that the people of Olstin Holland are in need of clothing and food, she decides to help. Rosie and her family send a package of necessities to a young Dutch girl named Katje, who distributes them to her family and neighbors. Rosie's project inspires others in her town to contribute, and soon larger and larger boxes of food and clothing are arriving in Olst. Inspired by true events, the story demonstrates the far-reaching effects of one family's kindness on a village in need

    Photo: Boxes for Katje by Candace Fleming; illustrated by Stacey Dressen-McQueen


    A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

    Lao Tzu, Chinese philosopher

    Family Story
    Swanson Children Making Blankets

    With four young children, including a newborn, Jennifer Swanson is busy. She writes a monthly e-newsletter and homeschools her children. Although teaching her kids the importance of giving back was a priority, she was having a hard time finding volunteer ideas for young children. After attending a Doing Good Together workshop last year, she and her husband developed some simple but effective ways to integrate giving traditions into their lives.

    For example, each week before the three oldest shop for food with their dad, the 7-year-old goes online and reads the list of foods most needed by their local food shelf. A couple items from that list get added to the Swansons' grocery list. At the store, the kids find the items, purchase them along with their other groceries, and add them to a bag in the kitchen. When the bag is full, the family delivers it to the food shelf.

    When Swanson was pregnant with their youngest, a new giving tradition took hold. Swanson's older daughter created a small, no-sew fleece blanket to give to her baby sister when she was born. A nurse at the hospital commented that the maternity unit could use donated blankets of that size (one yard of 60-inch fleece) for their newborns, many of whom left the hospital with little. Now each member of the Swanson family has committed to making a small blanket on his or her birthday (with assistance from mom and dad) to donate and deliver to the hospital where he or she was born. "Making blankets for others helps them think about things they take for granted (like their own blankets), allows them creativity and ownership of a project, and gives them a sense of accomplishment," Jennifer says.

    These small traditions are adding up to a new outlook for the family, with each family member thinking up new ways they can make a difference. Jennifer believes that by starting these simple traditions at a young age, reaching out will become natural for her children. "We've learned to accept help from others, and the kids see that. It makes sense to them to find ways to share. They love being involved in every part of family service projects. We give them general guidelines, but they get to choose the details. In the end, the kids are the ones that make it happen."

    Photo: The Swanson children making a fleece blanket

    News From DGT

    If you live in the Twin Cities, join Doing Good Together at the Minnesota Children's Museum on Monday, January 19, for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service,
    10 am-4 pm.

    After exploring the museum, children can take part in a variety of fun service projects, such as creating special cards for children who are in the hospital or decorating placemats for people who receive deliveries from Meals on Wheels.

    Doing Good Together staff will be on hand to tell you about lots of new ways to serve together. The address is 10 West Seventh Street, St. Paul.

    For directions, parking information and admission fees,
    click here.

    Quick Links...

    phone: 612-822-6502

    5141 16th Avenue South | Minneapolis | MN | 55417

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