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Doing Good Together Newsletter )
Helping strengthen kids and communities through family volunteerism... November 2007
in this issue
  • Teach Charity by Making it a Family Tradition
  • Getting a Handle on the Holiday "Gimmes"
  • Inspiration
  • One Family's Story
  • News From DGT

  • It's that time of year again and you can feel the old disappointment resurfacing: the emphasis on consumerism and materialism that's so tied to the holidays. Many families choose this time of year to start their tradition of family volunteering. After all, it's free, fun, rewarding-and helpful to others to boot. If you begin small (see the ideas below), it won't be long before serving others will be another treasured family ritual-like trimming the tree or lighting the Hanukah candles. And you could be starting a cycle of giving and sharing that will extend in your family for generations.



    Jenny Friedman, Executive Director

    Teach Charity by Making it a Family Tradition

    Make a Difference... Begin a small tradition of giving this holiday season - whether it's for Christmas, Hanukah or the New Year. A few possibilities:

  • Visit individuals confined to a nursing home, hospital or other institutions.
  • Invite a person with no family in town to share a holiday meal.
  • Organize a collection of food, books, toys or anything else needed by a local nonprofit. Then, together with your family, drop off the items at the agency.
  • Do a little neighborhood clean-up to brighten it for everyone.
  • Getting a Handle on the Holiday "Gimmes"
    Thanks a Million

    Talk About It ... It's difficult to get control of the "gimmes" during the holidays, but having conversations with your children does help put the season's materialism into perspective.

  • Help your kids question marketing messages, pointing out how advertisers try to "trick" them into wanting things they don't need. Then, limit exposure to commercials by having your children watch DVD's, or tape shows before they're watched so you can skip the ads.
  • Talk to your children about which non-gift parts of the holidays they most enjoy. This will help place emphasis on family traditions (including volunteering!) instead of just on presents.
  • Make homemade gifts together or give gifts of time. For the latter, your children can make "coupons" to give as gifts. You'll spend less time shopping and more time together with your family.
  • Learn About It ... Learn how to help your kids express gratitude by reading Thanks a Million by Nikki Grimes, a collection of poems about being thankful, along with beautiful illustrations.

    Photo: Thanks a Million by Nikki Grimes

    Inspiration

    "As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." 

    John Fitzgerald Kennedy

    One Family's Story
    Jim, Josie (8), Ben (6), and Jenny Barnabee

    Every February the Barnabees of Libertyville, Illinois, throw a party for Tet, the Vietnamese New Year, as a way to celebrate the heritage of their two adopted children, Josie, age 8, and Ben, age 6. This year, the family made the event extra-meaningful by creating a way for their 50 to 60 invited guests to benefit people living in Vietnam.

    Since the party last February, guests have been raising money for Heifer International, which donates animals and training to families in developing countries to encourage self-reliance. Jim and Jenny Barnabee and their children decided that "purchasing" a water buffalo through Heifer would be ideal, because it's an animal critical to Vietnamese agriculture. The cost? $250 per animal. Water buffalo are endlessly useful, helping to plant crops, provide milk, and produce manure for fertilizer and fuel. "A farmer can plant four times more rice with a buffalo than by hand," the organization says.

    Photo: Jim, Ben (6), Josie (8), and Jenny Barnabee

    Read Full Story

    News From DGT

    We're thrilled! The November 2007 issue of Better Homes and Gardens features a two-page article on Doing Good Together and family volunteering. It's under the heading "Raise Your Hand" on page 172. We're also in the November issue of Family Circle. They're both on the newsstand right now!

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