Thursday, December 15, 2011

25DG&G: Day 14

Today's post is more of an update for a previous project.  Back in November our Daisy troop decorated and packaged up 3 shoeboxes to be donated to Operation Christmas Child.  This is an annual event for our family where we let them pick out little gifts for a child their own age living around the world.  It was so exciting today when in my email appeared a mesesage that our boxes had successfully arrived in India!  Schuler and I talk about what it might be like for those children to open our gifts and how exciting it would be. 

25DG&G: Day 13

As I rifle through a pile of mittens for my girls, trying to pair them up and find 2 for everyone, it is easy to overlook that this is a good problem to have.  For many, a warm fuzzy pair of mittens is a luxury - in Michigan it is a necessity.  So today Schuler and I picked out 2 striped cozy gloves so she could hang them on the Christmas tress at school where they were being collected for other kids on our community. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

25DG&G: Day 12

Today is my middle daughter's 3rd Birthday!  I think the standard line for mom's is to lament that they can't believe how old their kids are getting.  Brier is one of a kind though, and more often than not I forget that she is ONLY just 3.  She and her older sister have settled into the familiar sibling roles of loving one minute, arguing the next.  In honor of Brier's birthday though, I was delighted in the unprompted shift in how Schuler treated Brier today.  Line leader downstairs in the morning - Schuler let Brier go first.  Race to the car - Brier won.  Pick what we were having for lunch - Brier's choice.  It warmed my heart to see Schuler making such an effort to be kind, hope some of this birthday magic carries over to everyday!

25DG&G: Day 11

Today was busy as we squeezed church, grocery shopping, a Christmas show and a Birthday party into one fun-filled day.  In the midst of the hussle though, Schuler and I packed up 5 Christmas tins of those beautiful cookies.  Santa Schuler had a great time visiting our neighbors to deliver these unexpected treats on a Sunday afternoon.  Aren't surprise gifts the best!

25DG&G: Day 10

Every year my family enjoys a day of cookie making frenzy.  As my girls and my niece have gotten older, this has taking on a fun/crazy/messy spin for sure!  Looking at the picture above don't you just want to dive into one of those cookies covered in a bottle of sprinkles!?!??!  Though I am a true cookie girl at heart, it is the event and time with our family that is the fun part.  So in honor of Day 10 of 25DG&G we decided that today's creations will be given to some special people in our lives.

Monday, December 12, 2011

25DG&G: Day 9

Tonight our family was hosting some friends for dinner.  As we were busy running errands to pick up food for the evening, my oldest spotted a darling "Baby's 1st Christmas" ornament.  She picked it up and asked if we might be able to get it for our friend's new baby girl who would indeed be celebrating her first Christmas.  It was such a thoughtful idea I was happy to help.  She was so excited to give that ornament to our friends and they were touched by this little act of generosity.

25DG&G: Day 8

As mom's we all know how precious those couple of hours alone to run errands, pay bills, clean the house or just read a magazine can be.  Having a family member or paying a babysitter to watch the kids is often a luxury we just afford.  So how about a playdate swap!  These brothers are having a great time playing in a fort with their friends while their mom gets some time to catch up on the holiday to-do-list. 

25DG&G: Day 7

Today my oldest and I had the opportunity to "ring the bell" for the Salvation Army and collect money in their famous red kettles.  As we stood outside the grocery store watching people hurry in and out after work, I wasn't sure what to expect.  Schuler and I talked about how we should smile and say "Merry Christmas" to all those who walked by, but it seemed nearly everyone stopped to donate something.  Even as a 5 year old, Schuler noticed how generous people were, especially since many commented that they stopped when they saw such a cute little girl ringing the bell!  I think it made her feel pretty good that people appreciated her service to the community/

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

25DG&G: Day 6

It wasn't planned this way, but as it turned out in our Daisy Girl Scout meeting last night the topic was learning to be Caring & Considerate.  Given a limited amount of art supplies the girls practiced the art of sharing in order to create beautiful snowflake ornaments.  We then encouraged the girls to give them to someone who would enjoy their handmade creation.  Sharing - an oldie but a goodie :)

25DG&G: Day 5

Recently my 5 year old has discovered my stash of envelopes and in case you didn't know, stuffing some treasure inside of an envelope is about the coolest thing ever.  Add some decoration to the outside and you are lucky to be on the receiving end of one of these :)  So when my mother in law gifted us with a million candy canes, I thought it might be a good idea to share the wealth!  Enter said envelope, a cutout wreath and some markers.  Sure a little red and white striped loved brought a smile to friend.

25DG&G: Day 4

Thought I would high-light a guest post idea today!  With times as they are I, like many of you I am sure, have started to dabble in the world of couponing to save a little here and there.  The families on military bases overseas are no different, except for the fact that they can use coupons up to 6 months after their expiration date!

So if you have stacks of unused or expired coupons consider sending them here, where they will be packaged up and sent to military families who could use them.  How can your little heart help out with this project you might ask, a couple of ways crossed my mind.  If your child is old enough to use scissors this would make for some great practice!  Coupons should be sorted by food/non-food items - another great options.  Decorate the envelope?!?!  Finally, as shown in the picture above, a walk to the mailbox and sending some love!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

25DG&G: Day 3

Taking kids to the grocery store is not a favorite activity of mine.  Now that I have three girls however, any errand can be turned into an excuse for some alone time with one of my girls.  Today was no exception, and after an hour and half of shopping and my girl helping the whole time, she was treated to a ride on Sandy (for those of you not familiar with the penny pony at Meijer you are missing out!!).  Possibly one of the greatest cheapest treats of all time.  After her ride into the sunset we decided to pay it forward and left several pennies for the next child to ride on the house.  Cost... minimal.  But a nice surprise for the next guest nonetheless.

25DG&G: Day 2

Since I am new to parenting a school age child, I often revert back to my own elementary school day memories when thinking about how things operate.  My how times have changed.  Gone it seems are the days when you only saw parents in the classroom during a party (maybe) and ushered in are the days of a parent parade in the classroom.  So today my sweet husband was all set to head into school when we decided volunteering in the classroom was  an excellent opportunity for our 2 year old to help out as well.  I wasn't there so my account is second hand, and while I certainly she did more playing than helping, I am sure both she and her sister noticed that Daddy took time out of his afternoon to count stickers and hand out prizes in a room full of 5 year olds.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

25DG&G: Day 1

Everytime we go to the gym my almost 3 year old insists on holding the doors.  As I am schlepping gym bags, babies and assorted other items, having the patience for this is not always something I possess.  Add to that the fact that most adults using the doors want to hold the door for her, since she is so small and the doors so big, and more often than not I end up standing outside trying to get in.  That and the fact that there are 3 sets of doors to navigate, you see where I am going.

Today however in the spirit of 25DG&G I encouraged the door holding.  Waited patiently as smiling gym goers filed in and my daughter happily told everyone "you're welcome".  Afterward I made a point to say how nice it was of her to be so helpful to so many people hurrying in and out of the gym.  Small act, but lesson learned.  Day 1 complete.

Christmas Countdown: 25DG&G

Inspired by a post I saw on Facebook (okay full disclosure it was by my sister-in-law :) since today is December 1st, here on thlp we are starting a full on Christmas Countdown.  Not a countdown in a traditional way, but a fresh approach to serving others by participating in 25 Days of Giving & Graciousness.

We aren't talking monumental acts of kindness (though those would be certainly be awesome) but everyday making a conscience effort with your little ones to do something kind, considerate, thoughtful, unexpected, etc for someone else. 

Please share your ideas and success stories from 25DG&G and I will be posting as we go!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Halloween's Over....Now What!

Age: 2 and up
Type: Donation

This year trick or treating took on a whole new meaning in our house with a 5.5 and almost 3 year old.  They happily ran (literally) up and down the streets of our neighborhood for HOURS!  To say it was fun was an understatement.  My husband and I chatted with friends and neighbors we ran into as we tried to keep up with our girls.  At the end of the night they both spread out all their candy and we took stock for a moment of an absolute pile of candy.  A huge, chocolaty, delicious pile of more candy then we would ever let them eat.  So now what to do?  Thankfully I found a great website which can be found here

Halloween Candy Buy Back has a super easy search which allows users to type in their zip code and find a participating dentist closest to you that will be collecting candy.  What do they do with all this loot you are probably wondering?  The candy will be used to fill care packages sent to the troops in the month of December through Operation Gratitude.  This year Operation Gratitude will be sending 60,000 care packages!  I called the office closest to us and they are collecting candy all week up to 10 pounds.  Haven't weighed ours yet, but I bet we are close to that!
So have your little hearts set aside a few favorite pieces and help you pack up the rest of those goodies.  Some amazing men and women far from home are sure to appreciate your sweet treat!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Back to School Cool

type: donation
age: over 2

Whew, I don't want to say I am a little behind in posting about this, but goodness! As I play catch up with the projects that have been going on in our household over the summer, I hope that you are inspired to get involved with your little hearts!
This year marked a large milestone in our family, as our oldest started kindergarten. Needless to say, back to school shopping took on a whole new meaning! Rather than just fulfill the list for her class though, we decide that this would be a perfect time to give back to others who might not be able to fill their backpacks with new supplies this school year. It turned out our church was collecting school supplies, so we donated there, but I saw many other opportunities through the community to donate. The above picture shows my girls scouring the shelves for 'sale' tags and picking out stuff for the kids. I must admit, these girls are shoppers, so they had a great time!
So when fall rolls around, consider stocking up on school supplies for not just your own little hearts, but those of others as well!

Friday, April 29, 2011

tlhp Community Project - Follow Up

The first ever little hearts community project is officially in the books! For those who do not know the details of it, I posted about it here.

On April 17th at a book signing for my new children's book, Perfect You, kids were given the opportunity to created a flower using their hand print as the petals. Over a dozen children cheerfully decorated and stapled their little flowers, creating the spring bouquet shown in the picture at the right.

Recently Schuler and I had the opportunity to take this 'bouquet' to a local senior living facility where they were THRILLED to display it right on their front desk (Schuler shown at the front desk of Independence Village). Schuler was so worried that we were going to put the bouquet in someones room and then everyone wouldn't be able to see it. Needless to say she was excited to see that everyone who walked through the door would be able to enjoy the kids handiwork.

The craft itself only took minutes, but the overall impact was awesome - bringing smiles to all! Thanks to everyone who participated :)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Care Packages

Age: Over 3

Type: Activity

Getting mail, not just the boring ads and bills, is certainly a fun surprise. Receiving an actual package makes me downright giddy! I am sure I am not alone in this feeling. Can you imagine how much joy recieving a package would bring to a soldier who is serving our country far away from friends and loves ones? Pretty sure giddy doesn't do it justice. A care package for an enlisted service man - a great idea for our little hearts!

My friend Melissa recently sent me this adorable pic of her oldest two boys, Noah and Chase, holding items from their military care package. Inspired to do something for "a nice solider" as her son explained, Melissa and her sons put together a care package. It included, among other things, hand made airplanes as well as a note to thank the solider for their service.

When planning to send a care package I think two questions immediately come to mind: what should I include and who should I send it to. A quick Google search can easily answer both of these. Here is one site I found which talks about what to include in a package, as well as gives links to places you can send the package. Even easier than that? Melissa simply posted a note on Facebook asking if anyone had a loved one serving that she could send their package to. Numerous responses followed.

Looking at the picture above you can clearly see how great Noah and Chase felt about giving back to someone else. Making for, as Melissa put it "A very proud mom moment".

Monday, April 18, 2011

Craft Hope - Orphan Outreach

Age: over 3
Type: craft

For those of you who are even the least bit creative but aren't familiar with Craft Hope, I suggest you remedy that immediately! What a fantastic website, as they say "spreading hope one stitch at a time". Their projects are typically more appropriate for people older than our little hearts, but my sister-in-law brought to my attention the current project which would be perfect for the youngsters.

Craft Hope is partnering with an organization called Orphan Outreach who will be making a trip to Russia in August. As a small token of love, Orphan Outreach will be handing out handmade bracelets to the orphaned kids they are visiting. Beaded, knotted, tied - whatever homemade type of bracelet will work. Reading about the project on Craft Hope I was instantly drawn back to my youth and the HOURS spent laboring over intricate woven bracelets with painstakingly selected colors. Apparently some things transcend age, ethnicity and geography - who knew bracelets were one of them!

So how can you get involved? Grab your kids, some yarn, beads, string - whatever you have on hand and get crafting! You have until June 15th to mail your finished bracelets to this address:

Carin Vogelzang 630 Griswold SE Grand Rapids, MI 49507

For more details about this project or information about Russian orphans, definitely check out this link. As for me, I will be getting my girls together and getting crafting. I'll post pics later!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

TLHP Community Project - Easter Lily Bouquet

I am so excited to introduce the first ever little hearts project community project!! As you have seen posted here, I recently wrote my first children's book. In it, I emphasize the idea that we all have talents and gifts that we can use to help others. On Sunday, April 17th I will be at the Plymouth Coffee Bean doing a book signing from 11 AM to 1 PM and it seemed only fitting that I use this opportunity to engage the children attending in a small service project!

We will be making hand print Easter lilies and giving the finished bouquet to a local senior living facility. I can not wait to see the final results!! Hope to see many of you there :)

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Spring Cleanup

Age: over 2

Type: activity

As I sit here on the eve of April, I am 100% ready for spring. Unfortunately, being a Michigander means that we still might see another random flurry or two of snow! For the most part though, the snow has melted and we can finally see the grass after all these months. The melting snow also means that all kinds of litter and garbage that accumulated and were hidden all winter are now visible.

As my daughters and I braved the cold for a brisk walk yesterday, we saw lots of litter all over one of our favorite parks. Next time you go for a walk with your little hearts, why not bring along a couple of grocery bags and have the kids pick up any debris they see? Your neighbors are sure to appreciate the results!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The RAK Challenge!

I am so excited about the first ever little hearts project RAK Challenge!! Of course it wouldn't be a challenge without a prize (but you have to read on to find out more!) What is RAK you may ask - none other than the age old concept of Random Act of Kindness. The inspiration for the challenge? My daughter came home from church last week with a small printed card that said simply this:

"there is only ONE rule: if you have been struck by a random act of kindness, you must take this card and perform a random act of kindness for someone else and leave this card."

Love it on so many levels. First is instilling in our children the idea that they can give a thoughtful gesture, big or small, to anyone at anytime. Holding the door open for your little sister - random act of kindness. Coloring a picture for Grampy's fridge - random act of kindness. Sharing a snack with a friend who has none - random act of kindness. Second, is gets everyone who receives this kindness involved and thinking how they too can do something for someone else.

While you obviously don't need the printed card to perform a RAK, I kind of like the idea so the recipient can participate as well. This can be accomplished simply enough with parents printing the ONE rule from above onto a card and children decorating it. Then get creative!

Once you and your little heart have completed the RAK challenge, send your idea (and pictures :) to Now for the aforementioned PRIZE, one entry will be randomly chosen and will receive a copy of Perfect You. I can't wait to see Random Acts of Kindness popping up all over. Check back in upcoming weeks for all the great ideas!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Special Delivery

Age: Over 3
Type: Activity

We are fortunate enough to live in a neighborhood where the the concept of being a 'good neighbor" is still alive and well. We socialize, we lend eggs, we watch our kids in the yard we keep an eye on your house. It's community at its best, and certainly makes life a lot easier. Which leads me to my latest idea.
As we were out walking this weekend, my oldest and I noticed our next door neighbors mailbox overflowing, though I knew they weren't planning on being gone long. A quick text confirmed that they decided to extend their weekend trip and would be gone several days, so we offered to get their mail.

I can so clearly remember getting our neighbors mail as I was growing up if they were out of town. When people would simply ask their neighbor to pick it up, rather than fill out a form online to have it stopped. Such a small, easy, but thoughtful gesture. Perfect for a little heart! You know how kids are, each day our mail came my daughter was quick to remind me we needed to pick up the neighbors mail as well.

So next time your neighbor is out of town, maybe it could be the perfect chance for your little heart to be that 'good neighbor'!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Crafting for Cats

Age: 3 and up
Type: Craft

Our local library recently hosted their annual teen "Kitty Fort" building event to benefit the Michigan Humane Society. While this particular event was aimed at an older crowd, it certainly wouldn't have to be!

"Kitty Forts" are essentially brightly decorated cardboard box homes that keep cats happy while awaiting a new home. A 12x12x12 size box is recommended and then our little hearts are encouraged to go to town decorating with construction paper, stamps and small stickers. The specifics can be found here. Once completed the forts can be dropped off at your local humane society.

Considering making a kitty fort with your little one? Would love to see the results!!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The New Site is Up!

Several weeks ago I shared with you all the my children's book, Perfect You, had been published. Just wanted to update you all that my new website is now up and running! You can purchase books directly from it, as well as see my upcoming calendar of appearances. Perfect You and the little hearts project certainly go hand in hand with each other, and are both labors of love. I hope enjoy them both!!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Pushing Pencils

Age: Over 2
Type: Collection/Donation

This Valentine's Day my girls were lucky enough to receive several small gifts from grandparents and family members. Included amongst the little trinkets were several glittery, shiny, hearty, pinky (you get the girly idea) pencils. While they did have instant appeal, I mean who doesn't love pretty little things, they were soon relegated to a box in our playroom of other unsharpened pencils.
When I sat down at my computer this morning I remembered an article that I had read awhile ago about donating pencils - so I thought I would look into it for our little hearts. Turns out the The Pencil Project was just what I was looking for! A small grass roots effort which matches up students in need of pencils with kids looking to donate. By contacting Maria the founder, you can get the information required to make any size donation. Sound good to you? I think it would make the perfect project for a preschool class, Daisy troop or Sunday school class. As always, would love to hear if you decide to try out this idea and I will feature your success story here! Thanks for reading!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Making a Million Meals

Age: Over 5
Type: Organized Activity

A couple weeks ago I posted here about my daughter and her 'chores' to raise money for a project our church was undertaking - A Million Meal project. This weekend I had the privilege of serving as a key volunteer while this task was undertaken. Let me start by saying the at the end of the weekend, after 5000+ volunteers had filtered through the gym of a local high school, our mission was accomplished. And what an amazing a sight it was!

This event was produced in partnership with Feed My Starving Children - an organization out of Minnesota that is dedicated to serving children around the world. Our church, Northridge, was lead under the direction of FMSC staff to utilize both our time and our money in order to reach this monumental goal of making a million meals. I could fill a page with unbelievable statistics about what this means, but here is one that really stuck with me. At the conclusion of 1 two hour shift, enough meals were made to feel 260 children for an entire YEAR!!! It is hard to wrap your head around just what kind of impact that is, for just taking 2 hours out of your day to serve others.

One of the coolest parts of this entire experience, however, was that it was created to involve the entire family. I was able to work the registration table for part of the event and let me tell you how much my heart exploded when I saw entire families checking in to help serve others. Walking around the gym floor watching the packing teams I saw kids as young as 5, working side by side with parents, grandparents, siblings, and friends, helping out in a really meaningful way to achieve a common goal. It was inspiring!!!

Feed My Starving Children has grown in leaps and bounds in the last several years, and chances are they may be organizing an event near you. I encourage you to check it out - it is amazing what you and your little hearts can accomplish!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Emailing some Valentine's Love!

Type: Computer/Email
Age: Any

It doesn't get any easier than this to show someone you care! The Children's National Medical Center is offering visitors the chance to email Valentine's to their special patients. Our little hearts can pick a valentine card, add a little message and post it to the Children's Center wall. Hard copies of the cards will be displayed on the playroom wall to show the children how many other kids are thinking about them.
So take a minute with your kids to send the love!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Little Cross Promotion!

And now a break from the service project ideas for a little shameless self promotion. I am thrilled to announce the release of my first children's book, Perfect You! Here is a quick synopsis of it:

In this letter from God, children will discover that He has blessed them with gifts and talents that make them totally unique and able to serve the world in a very special way! Could the gift of bravery make you a police officer or firefighter, or could your compassion help you to be a great doctor or teacher? The possibilities are endless! Perfect You is a story for parents to share with their children to encourage them to discover their talents so that they can live a life of purpose and happiness.

As you can see, the book and this blog go hand in hand; the first encouraging you to find your gifts and the latter to help you use them!

The official release of the book will not be until April, but you can get signed copies from me starting the end of the month! More info. is sure to follow. Until then, please considering 'Like'ing Perfect You on Facebook!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Change Through Chores

Activity: Chores

Age: Over 4

The weekend of February 11th my church is undertaking a huge project - the fundraising, packing and shipping of A MILLION MEALS for those in need. These meals will primarily be sent to those still struggling for survival in Haiti, and other starving children around the world. Clearly this is no small undertaking, and for the first time, even the preschool children have been enlisted to help. You can imagine my delight when my 4 year old came home with an envelope and 'chore' coupons to raise money for other children in need.

I am sure we are all familiar with the 'chore' coupons; who didn't give the "free car wash" or "take out the trash" coupons for father's day! It hadn't occurred to me however, that my kids might be ready for this step. How wrong was I!! Schuler threw herself into it, performing such tasks as helping sort the laundry, making her bed, wiping the table off after dinner and sweeping. Each time she cashed in her coupon, another quarter went into her collection envelope. Since each meal only costs a mere $0.19, she felt a real sense of accomplishment knowing every completed job meant another child could eat. Powerful stuff.

For more information about the A Million Meals project, click here. But clearly this idea can be tailored to fundraise for any organization or cause. Try it out and send me the results. I would love to post more 'chore' coupons success stories!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Celebrate by Giving Back

Type: donation

Age: any
A couple years ago a friend of mine introduced me to the blog of one of her friends. This mom/photographer/blogger has an amazing way of capturing the everyday trials and joys of parenthood and I loved reading through her posts - especially those when she was expecting her second child. However, I'll never forget sitting a my computer, tears streaming down my face, as I read about her daughter, Nella's, birth and the realization that she had Down Syndrome. As a mom, I know the feeling of spending so much time praying for a healthy child, and thankfully so far I have been blessed. But it still hit very close to home.
Out of this difficult time, however, an amazing thing has happened. This talented mom, Kelle Hampton, used her talents to bring light and awareness on this issue. In fact, many of you may have read her story in Parent magazine. For those of you who didn't, her blog (and the story) can be found here.
So how does this all relate to our little hearts? Recently little Nella turned one, and in order to celebrate this milestone, the ONEder Fund was created to raise money for awareness and opportunities for those with Downs . Is your little one celebrating a milestone of their own soon? Perhaps a gift in honor of your special child could be made to the ONEder Fund to help other special children!

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Return of the little hearts project!

Wow, it is good to be back!! I can't believe that it has been 7 months since my last post. I certainly never planned to take that kind of hiatus, but as they say "Life Happens". The reason, in large part, was the little blessing shown to the right. My third daughter was born in August, giving us 3 girls under 5. Needless to say, life was (and still is!) hectic. I realized quickly that I really need to pare down my commitments and focus on my family first - which unfortunately meant putting the little hearts project on pause.

Now that we are back in the swing of things though, I am excited to rekindle this blog with some great new ideas. Several weeks ago when I was thinking I might be ready to start again, it seemed everywhere I turned different ideas were right in front on me. Certainly someone much bigger than myself was saying it was time to pick up this passion and start sharing - here are some ideas to get you started!

So look for new postings coming soon, and please please please share your ideas and success stories with me as well! Lots of love - Holly

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