Giving Back is a Great Gift Idea!

I remember giving back for as long as I can remember anything. My mom always taught me that giving back is a great gift idea. She’s adopted and has always had a soft spot for kids in similar circumstances. Every year we’d choose tags off the Angel Tree. She worked multiple jobs to make ends barely meet, yet she taught me how important it was to always be giving back. I came to love finding deals to get more gifts for these kids. I began doing it with my own kids years ago. Then it became harder to find, and we transitioned to doing something new each year. One year we volunteered to make personal care kits for veterans and those without homes. Another we made meals for the shelter.

Last year we found a foster group in Florida taking donations and sponsored kiddos with Christmas lists that hadn’t yet been fulfilled. We chose 3, each the same age as our boys and they were given a budget and helped choose things online to be delivered directly to them. They talked about it for weeks after! I’d like to think my kids are also learning that giving back is a great gift idea – that it’s a privilege to be able to do so, and a gift to yourself to share love and be part of something bigger than yourself is better than something you could receive.

What we did this year

When I quit my corporate job a few years ago, I took a look at our life and knew we could do more. I’d always been passionate about things, but never dove in to them fully. But with more time, it was a commitment I wanted to make. So we started training and became a Foster Resource Family. We’ve since fostered 2 kiddos long-term and been a respite home for a sibling pair as well. Last month we matched donations from Beautycounter customers to UMFS. And this month are donating a total of $2000 this month to the foster community.

We:

  1. donated $500 to UMFS, our own non-profit foster agency that supports high-risk children, it was doubled by a generous donor!
  2. are donating $750 to Leland House, a residential programs that provides housing, counseling, and life skills support for teenagers experiencing crisis and homelessness.
  3. re dedicating $750 to supporting a specific kiddo for the holiday season who just turned 18 and was never adopted. She does not have family or support as she ventures out on her own. We’re helping her prepare her first apartment and hope to spend more time with her in the future going forward, too.
  4. have been holding onto a huge bag of goodies to complete our donations for the Wanda Alston Foundation, and we’ll be taking those to them this month.
  5. purchased our tree through a church program that uses profits to feed 100 families with each tree!

Earlier this year we’ve donated: $50 to Family Equality, $2500 to Children’s Rights, $810 to America’s Kids Belong Dream Maker’s Project, $500 towards Pouches with a Purpose, 272 safer personal care items (est value $6,800) to LGBTQ residential youth housing! That’s $12,660 so far this year. THANK YOU for helping to make that happen by choosing to shop with me!

How are our kids involved?

  • The kids were asked where they wanted to donate within specific cause parameters. Kiddo had great ideas and shared based on personal experience and some of her friends
  • All the kids will help me prepare the items for donation, from shopping online and in person, to wrapping, and drop off; when they express an opinion, I listen – if I have concerns about it, we discuss and come up with a solution [more on Collaborative Problem Solving here]
  • This kind of involvement leads to them taking charge. For example, I wanted to go to a Tree Farm to cut down a tree this year, and the family all voted – it was 5-to-1 for reference, that we go to the pre-cut fundraiser not far from our home instead “for a good cause”

Want to help giving back but don’t know where to start?

  • Google “foster high risk teen near your city, state”. Then, reach out to any agencies to see what they are in need of or if there is a specific youth they know of who could use some support.
  • Donate to Together We Rise, a non-profit organization that ensures kids get gifts (they do this for birthdays too).
  • Sponsor kids aging out who have basic needs to survive, at Dreammaker’s Project – like bus money to get to their job, or money for a computer to finish school.
  • Donate or sign-up for a children’s rights membership.
  • Donate time – offer to make meals for the homeless, we did that a few years ago.

Maybe come up with a few ideas and let your family chime in on what they’d like to do? They may have their own awesome ideas!

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