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Doing Good Together Newsletter )
Helping strengthen kids and communities through family volunteerism... August 2007
in this issue
  • Birthday Party Alternatives that Inspire
  • Creating New Party Attitudes
  • Inspiration
  • One Family's Story
  • News From DGT

  • Remember, family volunteering doesn't need to involve only parents and children. What about spending time volunteering with a niece or nephew, a grandchild or the child of a friend? In this month's family story, you will hear about a project one aunt/niece duo has undertaken to celebrate their birthdays together, and the difference they're making in the lives of families facing an extraordinary challenge.



    Jenny Friedman, Executive Director

    Birthday Party Alternatives that Inspire
    Charity Guide

    Make a Difference... Are you concerned that children's birthday parties are getting too, well, competitive? Instead of extravagant gift bags, expensive entertainment or staged outings, consider choosing a fun service project as the party's focus. You could:

  • Decorate and fill birthday bags to donate to your local food pantry.
  • Create homemade cards for critically ill children.
  • Decorate and laminate placemats for Meals on Wheels recipients.
  • Make no-sew fleece blankets for children in need of comfort.
  • Join the Peter Pan birthday club and donate money to a local children's hospital.
  • Other inspired ideas, with how-tos, can be found at the Charity Guide website.

    Creating New Party Attitudes
    The Giving Book

    Talk About It ... If want to begin a volunteering tradition for an upcoming birthday, first talk to your child about the idea of celebrating in this new way - doing for others.

  • Ask your child how s/he would feel about attending a party with a service project as the main event. Would s/he be excited or disappointed? Why or why not?
  • Listen to and respect your child's concerns about having a service-related party. If s/he isn't enthusiastic, don't insist. (One alternative: Have half the party be the project, and half the party be traditional games.)
  • When considering a service project, have a conversation about what issues matter to your child. The party will be more fun and meaningful if the cause reflects your child's interests. For example, a child with a passion for the outdoors might have the party guests plant trees together at the local park.
  • Some children ask guests to donate to charity instead of bringing a gift. Talk about the pros and cons of a "no gift" party.
  • Learn About It ... Think about giving your child a book about kindness, compassion and giving for his or her birthday. Some fun titles include The Giving Book by Ellen Sabin, Because of You by B.G. Hennessy and A Kid's Guide to Giving by Freddi Zeiler.

    Inspiration

    Inspiration "Do your little bit of good where you are; it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world."

    Bishop Desmond Tutu

    One Family's Story
    Marsha Shanker and her niece, Samantha

    Marsha Shanker adores her nieces. So every year she wants to do something special for their birthdays; but Marsha decided a few years ago that new toys and trendy clothes didn't meet her idea of "special." Instead she tried giving them the gift of her time - doing a party together, boating or horseback riding. But soon she ran out of ideas.

    So this year, Shanker came up with a new plan for how to make these birthdays meaningful. She hatched her plan with niece Samantha, since she lived nearby and their birthdays are just a week apart. As a hospice volunteer in St. Louis, Mo., Shanker knew the joy in serving others and wanted to share that with Samantha, who was almost 12. When Shanker proposed celebrating by doing something for others, Samantha was immediately enthusiastic. They talked to the hospice volunteer coordinator and together decided that the two would bake cookies for families whose children are in the pediatric hospice program called Wings. It was an enormous - and joyful - undertaking. The two spent two solid weekends baking and another weekend delivering the baskets of sweets to hospice families all over St. Louis.

    Read Full Story

    Photo: Marsha Shanker and her niece, Samantha.

    News From DGT

    We are redesigning our website to give you more beneficial tips and tools. If you are a part of a school, faith community, civic organization or parent group, you'll be able to find exactly what Doing Good Together has to offer to help integrate family volunteering into your organization. Plus we'll be featuring a lot more information for families and a monthly listing of volunteer opportunities for parents and kids in the Twin Cities. Visit us in September to check out our new services.

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