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Doing Good Together Newsletter )
Helping strengthen kids and communities through family volunteerism... November 2008
in this issue
  • Sampler of Quick Ideas
  • Reap the Benefits of Meaningful Holiday Giving
  • Inspiration
  • Family Story
  • News From DGT

  • Parents are often concerned about how much the holidays revolve around receiving rather than giving. Advertisers spend billions targeting our children, so it's no wonder we see a growing desire for material goods during this season. If you are hankering for ways to provide alternative messages to kids -- like the joy and satisfaction that comes from doing for others -- read on for some simple solutions.



    Jenny Friedman, Executive Director

    Sampler of Quick Ideas
    The Holiday Project

    Make a Difference...

    We tell our children that it's better to give than to receive, but making that message part of the holiday tradition can be difficult. Here are few easy, hands-on activities to intersperse among the football games, catalogue perusals and letters to Santa. Each idea can be completed in an hour or two!

  • While you're out shopping, you and your children can buy a toy or two to donate. Visit Toys for Tots for drop-off sites.
  • Pay a visit to help assuage the loneliness of people confined to a nursing home, hospital or other institution during the holidays. Call your local hospital or nursing home to arrange a visit. Check out Holiday Project for additional details.
  • Create a cheery card for a child with a serious illness. Learn more at Make a Child Smile.
  • Collect holiday foods and deliver them together to your nearest food pantry. Your deed will surely bring cheer to food-shelf users.
  • Check with Volunteer Match to find other holiday opportunities in your area.
  • Reap the Benefits of Meaningful Holiday Giving
    The Can-Do Thanksgiving by Marion Hess

    Talk About It...

    As you develop your family's annual tradition of giving, talk to your children about the possibilities and the rewards.

  • Ask your children their ideas for making the holidays more meaningful. Do they have suggestions for traditions of giving you could adopt?
  • Talk about why advertising is so powerful and how our desire for material things is enhanced by enticing commercials.
  • Discuss which kinds of presents are consistent with your family's values. These might include books or handmade gifts or toys that foster your children's creativity.

  • Learn About It...

    The Can-Do Thanksgiving by Marion Hess Pomeranc, illustrated by Nancy Cote (Albert Whitman & Co., 1998) encourages readers to view the holidays as an opportunity to make a difference in their communities. The book provides two ideas for Thanksgiving service projects: organizing a canned- goods drive and volunteering at a local soup kitchen or shelter. For ages 4-8.

    Photo: The Can-Do Thanksgiving by Marion Hess Pomeranc, illustrated by Nancy Cote

    Inspiration

    "And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! "Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more!"

    from How The Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss

    Family Story
    Amy & Erin Gaides

    One Twin Cities-area church hosts a holiday giving tradition that brings joy to those without much to cheer about. Member families like Pam and Gary Gaides and their two daughters, Amy (17) and Erin (15), help make it work. Every year, the Gaideses look forward to the satisfaction and meaning they receive in return.

    Tubman Family Alliance & Chrysalis works with the Gaideses' church, Woodbury United Methodist Church (WUMC), to brighten the holidays for families who are relying on Tubman's resources to deal with domestic violence and mental and chemical health issues. First, the nonprofit provides the public with shopping lists and people throughout the Twin Cities donate items from the lists. The donated items for families from the east metro are brought to Woodbury United Methodist Church, and dozens of church members sort and categorize them according to age and gift type. Then, church volunteers go "shopping" to select and put together the items requested by each family. Finally, other volunteers wrap and place them in each family's gift basket. The whole process takes about three weeks. The Gaides family lends a hand at every stage - helping to coordinate the holiday shopping event at WUMC, categorizing the donations, shopping and wrapping, and volunteering at the holiday party. The family will use its own money to purchase items that families have requested but that haven't been donated.

    The program culminates with a holiday party for Tubman families. Volunteers prepare and serve a meal, help entertain the children with craft activities, and present each family with its tailor-made gift basket. Teenagers Amy and Erin especially enjoy interacting with the young children at the event. Pam Gaides says her daughters eagerly anticipate the annual project, and seem to revel in their ability to bring holiday cheer to the families. Her hope is that serving others, which they have experienced firsthand with Tubman for the last four years, is something they take with them and weave into their adult lives, too.

    Photo: Amy & Erin Gaides

    News From DGT

    One way Doing Good Together educates people about the value of family service is by building relationships with schools, faith groups, social service agencies, museums, businesses, civic groups and others. If your group or organization is interested in encouraging its member families to serve others, please contact us. We'd love to talk with you about the possibilities!

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