25 Days of Kindness {2015 Edition}

December 28, 2015

My children adore our Advent tree. Each day they count from the beginning to figure out whose turn it is to pull the slip out of the envelope ("Lisie, Noe, Lisie, Noe, Lisie..."). The unveiling of our activity and what follows afterward are often the highlight of the days leading up to Christmas.

Since we've chosen to intertwine kindness into our Advent tradition, recapping what we did this year is another seasonal favorite of mine. It's a way to make Christmas last just a little bit longer.

Here's what we did this year -- I'd love to hear what you did this year, too!

Day 1: Donated to an organization that aids foster kids and parents. Our Advent Acts of Kindness started with a donation to The Forgotten Initiative. Our sweet helper Ashlyn took an #UNselfie (just before she tried to eat the paper) to support TFI, an amazing organization. We've made Journey Bags for foster kids in the past and they were SO MUCH FUN.

Day 2: Wrote cards to others. My kids like to write cards to others and this year we found an organization called The World Needs More Love Letters, which gathers letters for people who are going through a hard time in life and offers encouragement and love from strangers, along with the reminder that we are not alone! The world is FULL of loving people.

Day 3: Sent a note and a fun magazine subscription to someone facing a difficult road ahead.

Day 4: Brought flowers to a friend to help celebrate a big win (a new belt in taekwondo).  

Day 5: Partnered financially with a dear friend and the very, very good work she is doing at St. Cloud State University through Intervarsity.

Day 6: Put new flooring in at a local foodshelf and packed stockings for the kids and families who utilize the food shelf.

Day 7: "Candy bombed" the local hospital parking lot by making treats of goodies and distributing them on car windshields. My husband was the mastermind on the treat bags, but our girls LOVED helping with this one!

Day 8: Bought gifts and made cards for service men and women via Operation Gratitude for their wounded warriors program. If you'd like to send a card of thanks or gift to those who are serving our country, check out their website: http://www.operationgratitude.com

Day 9: Sent an encouraging card and fun little gift for a momma returning to work this week.

Day 10: Bell-ringing with grandparents. My parents got in on the kindness fun by taking the kids to be bell-ringers! My children had not done this activity before and they LOVED IT. We stopped to take this picture and you could hear their bell ringing from across the parking lot! If you are interested in ringing a bell this Christmas season for charity, check out the Salvation Army for more details: http://www.onlineredkettle.org

Day 11: Donated to an organization that helps lower the risk of malaria. Y'all, I was horrified when I read that every 30 seconds, a child under the age of five dies from malaria. (That's in addition to other folks; pregnant women are also very vulnerable.) This is especially poignant to me because all three of my sweet girls are age 5 and under and I can't imagine losing them to something that is preventable. That's why I chose to give today to The Against Malaria Foundation, an organization that provides specially-treated nets that greatly lower the risk. Amazingly, they cost $3. THREE DOLLARS. That is less than my latte this morning, folks! Plus, when you donate to them, they send you a follow-up email within the next few months detailing exactly where YOUR nets went. How awesome is that?!

Day 12: Quite possible my fav Advent Act of Kindness so far this year! What started out as pulling together kid clothes for a family in need turned into meeting these two fabulous people! Haji and Natalie from ‪#‎UniteCloud‬ are meeting needs of refugees arriving in St. Cloud. Want to join? They are in the midst of a diaper driver that will get diapers into the hands of multiple social service agencies: http://www.operationbabynewyear.com/. Or, contact UniteCloud for ways to get more directly involved with our own refugee community.

Day 13: Helped collect toys and other gift items for men, women, and children for Kids Hope Shop at Place of Hope homeless shelter, one of our absolute FAVORITE things to do during the Christmas season (at-risk kids come and shop for their families for free)! We had to park outside of the garage temporarily because the stall is FULL of items, thanks to the generosity of folks we know.

Day 14: Chose items from the World Vision catalog. Every year my kids pick a gift for someone else through World Vision. This year they chose to give fruit trees to a family, provide money for a girl to attend school, provide medical supplies and give food to those in emergency situations. There are so many great organizations that send catalogs offering items you can purchase for others (Samaritan's Purse, World Vision, Compassion International--just to name a few). This is one of the highlights of Advent Acts my kids look forward to every year and opens up some wonderful conversations about needs around the world. 
Day 15: Bought diapers for Operation Baby New Year. The goal is 100,000 diapers by Jan 1st to be split among a variety of social service agencies in the St. Cloud area.
Day 16: The kids delivered Christmas goodies to our neighbors.

Day 17: Helped out with Kids Hope Shop at Place of Hope, where at-risk kids can shop (again, for free!) for their families. One of the best days of the year, in my opinion. Special thanks to CrossFit STMA and Westbridge Church for generous donations and volunteers (more than 100 volunteers came from Westbridge). It's a big event!

Day 18: We just can't stop thinking of the new refugee families arriving in our community. Got lots warm fleece tops and bottoms for their kiddos. And, my sweet girlie used her own money.

Day 19: Eleanor and I delivered supplies and Christmas gifts to Anna Marie's Alliance, a local shelter for women and their children that have experienced domestic violence. This morning we prayed as a family for the women and children who are there, that they would be blessed this Christmas and have peace and hope for a new year.

Day 20: My sweet girls helped pick out items for local moms and kids as part of Noelle's preschool service project. Their requirements: The items HAD to be pink, as well as something they thought their own baby sister would like.

Day 21: The kids put together gifts and hand-written cards for their teachers. Jon (kindergarten) LOVES his immersion teacher and so wrote several of the Chinese characters he has learned to write (the numbers 1-7).
Day 22: Brought thank yous and treats to our local grocery store staff for the wonderful job that they do and got a surprise of our own, an act of kindness in return. One of the women who we make sure to greet every week had gotten Eleanor a very thoughtful birthday gift--books, her favorite! Who have you showed kindness to today? I am telling you, it can totally make someone's day! 

Day 23: Put treats in the mailbox for Melissa, our mailperson. We do this every year and it's honestly one of my favorite days. Let's be honest, we get a LOT of mail delivered at our house (Amazon Prime, anyone?!) and we so appreciate the job she does each day, rain or shine. I WAS a little tempted to eat those vanilla caramels, though! 

Day 24: Did the "drive-thru difference" and paid for the car behind us on our way to our family celebration.  

Day 25: For our finale, we donated money to give refugees kerosene for Christmas! To date we have raised $5,714! WOW! See the details here.

It was a great month! What did you do this month for Advent?


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