Small Acts Big Change is proud to present Make a Difference From Home guest author, Natalie Silverstein, MPH. Enjoy!
Title: Make this a Summer of Purpose and Kindness
Author: Natalie Silverstein, MPH
After this particularly challenging school year, when many families struggled with virtual school or modified schedules, families were ready for the lazy days of summer vacation. Whether your kids attend camp, you are spending time together at home, or you are planning the first family road trip in a long while, there are many small but meaningful ways to be sure that your fun summer days are also filled with kindness, gratitude and purpose.
- Perhaps the quintessential summer activity is hosting a lemonade stand, and the best lemonade stands focus on donating proceeds to charity. Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (alexslemonade.org) is a kids-for-kids charity that was created to honor the memory of Alexandra Scott who was diagnosed with a brain tumor at the age of 4. Alex hosted lemonade stands to raise money for childhood cancer research throughout her short life. Her family created the foundation to continue her legacy, and offer hands-on volunteer and fundraising opportunities for kids and families who want to make an impact on childhood cancer research. The ALSF website offers resources, printable materials and plenty of inspiration to make your lemonade stand fun and successful. September happens to be Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, so lemonade stands held during the hot days of late August can use this as a goal and motivation.
- Pull out the paints and markers and let your kids creativity fly this summer. Check out Color A Smile. (www.colorasmile.org) which distributes cheerful drawings to senior citizens, our troops overseas and anyone in need of a smile. You can download printable coloring sheets from the website. Once you’ve collected a stack of beautiful drawings, send them along to Color a Smile which has given out over a million smiles over the last 25 years.
- Planning a road trip? Bring along construction paper, markers and stickers. During long car rides or while waiting for meals at restaurants, encourage children to write letters and cards to people who could use encouragement and love. You can send greetings or colorful birthday cards to children dealing with health issues through Cards for Hospitalized Kids (cardsforhospitalizedkids.com) or The Confetti Foundation (www.confettifoundation.org); to isolated seniors through Love for Our Elders (www.loveforourelders.org) or Letters Against Isolation (www.lettersagainstisolation.com); or to refugee children through Letters of Love (www.letters-of-love.org).
- As we approach the 20th Anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, think of ways to honor those who were lost and our brave first responders. You can order an arts and crafts kit from the Stars of Hope organization (starsofhope.org) which grew out of the tragedy of 9/11 and empowers people to share messages of love and hope through hand-painted wooden stars. Each “Box of Hope” includes 15 wooden stars, paint, brushes and instructions. After your kids have painted the stars, you can box them up and send them to a community that is recovering from a natural disaster or other tragedy, or give them to the heroes in your own community – the frontline workers and first responders who were there for us during this past 18 months and who will continue to serve and protect us long after the pandemic has receded into memory.
This year more than ever, summer should be filled with easy, relaxing days when kids can be kids, expressing their creativity while flexing their empathy muscles. This season can be even better, more joyful, meaningful and rewarding, if you enhance your fun with kindness, gratitude and service to others.
About the Author:
Natalie Silverstein, MPH, is the author of Simple Acts: The Busy Family’s Guide to Giving Back (2019), which was selected by the HuffPost as one of 10 Books For Parents Who Want to Raise Kind Kids, and the upcoming Simple Acts: The Busy Teen’s Guide to Making a Difference (2022). She is also the New York area coordinator of Doing Good Together, a national non-profit with the mission of helping parents raise kids who care and contribute. She is a sought-after speaker, writer, podcast guest and consultant on the topics of family and youth service. She lives in New York City with her family.
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This blog is hosted by Small Acts Big Change, a nonprofit organization helping people volunteer to change the world through kindness and service.