Friday, November 9, 2012

Candy Candy Candy

Age:  any
Type:  donation

Just when I think my girls couldn't possibly collect more candy than they did the year before, they some how manage to do just that!  This years haul was so impressive my oldest actually was making "candy" angels on the floor in the middle of her stash!  No worries here about what to do with all that loot however, as once again we participated in an Operation Gratitude candy collection.  This is our third year participating in a candy collection where we donate our candy to be sent to our military personel serving oversees.  For more details or to find a participating collection location check it out here!

No Tricks Just Treats

Age:  Over 2
Type:  Baking/Donation

As part of our new holiday giving plan, a Halloween inspired service project was first on our list.  We decided to support the local Ronald McDonald house with a basket of goodies.  Our local Ronald McDonald house hosts 29 families at a time, most of whom have well children in addition to their hospitalized child.  For these siblings, Halloween this year will be very different, so we hoped to spread a little spooky fun with our trick or treat inspired gift basket.  Filled with pumpkin bread, suckers, craft supplies and coloring books, we had a blast assembling it and delivering it to some very appreciative families!

Friday, October 19, 2012

New inspiration

Throughout my day I always have an eye out for different project ideas I can share on the blog.  I tear things out of magazines, bookmark sites, pin things, leave myself little notes, my point is that inspiration is everywhere!  It is always good to keep things fresh and mix it up, so when the school year started I decided this year we would focus on a new area at the little hearts project - the holidays!!

Each year my girls get older the excitement level over the holidays seems to ramp up!  Baking, decorating, crafting - they ( and I :) love it all.  It's easy to get caught up in a very me-centric mind frame during this time as well though.  As excited as my kids are, I can't help but think how difficult the holidays would be for those without the means to do much celebrating.  So this year we will be doing a special project related to each holiday throughout the year.  Look for them soon and consider adding a service projects to your list of holiday activities!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Water Women

Type:  Activity
Age:  Over 1

After the birth of my last daughter I took up running to get back in shape and take care of myself.  It has been a wonderful outlet and has turned into a family affair.  My girls regularly go to the gym with me while I train and we all ran several races this summer.  They are familiar with the workings of a race, so when a friend of mine from church mentioned they were looking for volunteers to run water stations for their 20 mile marathon training run, I knew this would be a great project for my little hearts!

My oldest holding a sign to cheer on the runners

Who could say no to water from these three?!?

You can do it!!!

There was a lot of significance personally about this training run and I blogged about it over here if you want to hear more of the story.  Most of the runners that morning have never run even close to the 20 miles that they would be doing that day, and nearly all of them stopped to tell my girls how much it meant to them to have their support.  Their smiling faces and handmade signs were simple gifts that uplifted the spirits of those running.  We spent two hours pouring water, handing out cups and high fives, but even a month later my heart still feels full thinking of this morning spent together serving!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Fathers and Frostys

Who doesn't love a delicious chocolate Frosty from Wendy's?! This weekend you can have one more reason to indulge in this tasty treat, as Wendy's will donate $.50 from every Frosty purchase towards The Dave Thomas Foundaction for adoption. For more information or to find a Wendy's near you, check out this link! Have a wonderful Father's Day weekend!!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Super 6 Summer Service Project Ideas

With my first year as a mom of a school age child nearly under my belt, I am ready for summer vacation!  For the last month I have been madly 'pinning' summer activities, crafts, recipes and other fun things for my girls and I to do together.  As I was doing so, I realized that what was missing was a little hearts post on the subject!  While summer does provide some much needed respite and time to run through the sprinklers and lick melty popsicle off our fingers, it can also be a great time to engage in serving others.  So without further ado, I present the Super 6, a collection of summer-themed projects for you and your little one!

1 - Guest Groundskeeper
For many people summer is a time of family trips and vacations.  It is also a time when that summer heat can quickly undo all that hard work you spent planting in the spring.  Next time your neighbor goes on vacation, volunteer to water their flowers.  Tiny watering can in hand, watering flowers is my almost 2 years olds absolute favorite activity.  Sure the sidewalk, my shoes, the tires of the car may all get a little water as well, but eventually the job gets done!

2 - Fresh Fruit Baker
In Michigan summertime in synonymous with an abundance of fresh berries!  Raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries - we love them all.  My girls and I have already been out strawberry picking and almost 20 pounds later we were left wondering what we could possibly do with this haul!  The solution - jars of homemade jam for crossing guards, teachers, babysitters  - a thank you for those people who have made this school year great! 

3 - Lemonade Stand Owner
My six year old has already been hounding me about when she can have a lemonade stand again (this year will apparently be Rock Star themed :).  A classic activity that has jobs perfect for ages 2 and up and a great way to collect donations to a favorite cause.  Consider spending some time researching different organizations and charities that your little heart would like to donate to!  Another twist for the older ones could be holding a car wash!

4 - Thirst Quencher
I am not one to ever complain about the heat - the hotter the better as far as I am concerned.  We only get so many of these kind of days in Michigan!  Still, there are those days where the heat and humidity combine in one hot mess where the girls and I just want to curl up in the house in our AC.  Not everyone has the luxury of seeking out the cool air on these kind of days - garbage and recycling still need to be collected and mail still needs to be delivered.  So how about leaving out cool bottles of water with a little note of thanks for these service providers.  Sure to bring a smile and a little relief on a hot day!

5 - Garden Helper
My first post on the little hearts project was about an experience I had with my first daughter in our church garden and the impact that it had on us.  This summer I plan to enlist the help of all my girls as we head back into the garden.  No longer just something for rural areas, urban farms and gardens are popping up just about everywhere!  Many communities have their own gardens and need volunteer support to keep them going.  I have posted about it here and here previously.  Nothing says summer like fresh veggies and pulling a few weeds is the perfect project for little hands!

6 -  Mini-Parade Maker
A summertime service project list would not be complete without an art project for the little ones!  Who doesn't love a good Fourth of July Parade?  Unfortunately for children hospitalized during the July 4th holiday, attending a parade is not always possible.  So consider bringing the parade to them using these two super cute ideas from Family Fun to make July 4th Hats and Noise Makers.

I hope you have found this list helpful in getting you and your little heart inspired to serve others this summer!  Would love to hear about any of these projects that you - so please send along :)

Happy Summer!!!!

Monday, May 7, 2012

make a difference monday: respect

It's time once again for a Make a Difference Monday post as a part of author Maria Dismondy's monthly series on instilling positive character traits in our children. 

This year my oldest entered kindergarten, and with that came lots of new opportunities for all of us.  For me in particular I added the role of Daisy Girl Scout Leader to my plate.  I loved the girl scouts as a child, and as mother find their message and vision incredibly relevant and important for my daughter.  As new scouts, my kindergarten troop has spent the school year earning daisy 'petal patches' by doing activities pertaining to each line of the girl scout law.  The concept of RESPECT is featured prominently in this law by encouraging respect for others, respect for myself and respect for authority.

I remember the meeting where we brought up the the idea of respecting authority.  It was interesting because while the girls model respectful behavior, they were not familiar with the actual word and corresponding meaning of RESPECT.  In fairness to my five and six year old girls, it is a little tricky to put into words and showing respect is primarily about actions.  So what behavior and actions show respect for little ones?  Showing kindness towards others, being a good listener, trying to do something that would make a parent/teacher/adult happy, in general treating others like they are important and special.

We decided that one way we could put the principle of RESPECT into action was by saying thank you to some figures of authority in our lives.  Before each girl scout meeting we walk from school to my co-leaders' home and on the way cross two busy roads  At each intersection crossing guards help all our little daisies safely across the street.  Our girls know that in order to keep safe, they must listen carefully and do what this person of authority asks them to do.  To say thank you we made stop sign shaped cards and wrote messages of thanks on the back for all the crossing guards.  While so important to our daily safety, these crossing guards probably get very little acknowledgement, so this gesture of respect and thanks was particularly meaningful for all!

Monday, April 30, 2012

handy hugs

age:  any
type:  craft

I posted about this idea a couple weeks ago over here, but I loved it so much I wanted to make sure it was available in the little hearts archive as well!  This was the perfect project for my girls, as they could each participate at their own level.  For my 1 year old, that meant me painting her hands and stamping them on cardstock.  For my 3 year old, that meant painting her own hands (which is apparently more fun than I could have ever imagined!!) and stamping them on the paper.  For my 6 year old she could obviously paint and stamp her hands, but could also cut them out, cut the yarn and tape it to the back of the hands.  There you have it - instant hug!!! 
We used out hugs in a care package we sent to a sick child, but the uses for them are endless!  A hug for a relative who lives far from home, a hug for a neighbor who is ill, a hug for a sad friend, you are sure to find many people who would appreciate this small token of affection.  Looking for something to do with your little heart today, perhaps today's art project could be these "handy hugs"!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

teddy bears and tornadoes - an unlikely pair

Age:  over 2
Type:  donation

Several weeks ago a local community near mine was hit by unexpected tornadoes.  Many homes and businesses were destroyed in an area unaccustomed to this type of devastation.  This story is not unlike many across the country, so I wanted to share an email that I received from another mother about what she and her little one did to help ease the pain for those involved in this tornado.  The author of the email, Maria, is a mother to two little girls and author of several books.

After the tornado devastated so many homes in Dexter, I was motivated to do something to help the families who were involved.  I got an email from a principal at one of the Elementary schools. She was collecting teddy bears to give to the children who lost their homes. I thought this was a great idea and was happy to help. I could even involve my 3 year old, Ruby, in this act of kindness. My daughter helped me pick out the teddy bears. When she asked me what they were for, I was afraid to tell her the real reason for fear that she would have a hard time with future thunderstorms. So, I simply said "They are for poor kids". Looking back, I am disappointed in myself for not taking the time to A. explain the REAL reason we were buying the bears or B. Tell her what it meant to be "poor". I made the assumption that she knew what it meant to be poor.

About five hours after dropping the toys off at the Principal's house, we were driving driving home from the zoo when Ruby asked me what "poor" meant. At first I had no clue what she was talking about! I told her that when a child was poor, this meant their family didn't have a lot of money. That maybe their parents didn't have jobs. They didn't have enough money to do fun things like go to the zoo. Oh boy, did this set off tears! Ruby was crying saying " My mama doesn't work! We are poor! We won't ever go to the zoo again!" We talked the entire way home about all of this. It's tough to really remember how young Ruby is when I am trying to explain grown up things to her. She's correct, I don't have a full time job right now. But she doesn't understand the nature of my work and that it brings in income.

Overall, I am happy to have included her in the experience of giving to others. I look forward to doing something like this again. We love to conduct random acts of kindness for our neighbors, UPS man and mail carrier! We are always baking something and giving it away. We also love making projects and sending them to family members. But we haven't stepped out of our comfort zone to help people out of our network and I want to commit to doing this more often.  I believe in the power of Paying It Forward. I believe in living as a kind and generous individual.

As Maria said, it is often easy to do nice things for people 'in our network', but considerably more difficult to help those whom we have never met.  As this project idea indicates however, it need not be!  The simple gift of a teddy bear from a stranger could have more of an impact on a child in a difficult situation than you will ever know.  Thanks for sharing Maria!

Monday, April 16, 2012

make a difference monday: empathy

I am excited to take part in a monthly series at friend, and fellow author, Maria Dismondy's blog.  The purpose of this monthly series is to highlight specific key character traits and give resources to help instill these traits in our little hearts.  As the title of this post indicates, this month's characteristic is that of empathy.   In my personal observation, it seems that some children are just 'hardwired' to understand how others might be feeling or thinking.  I definitely know kids that are much more sensitive to others and can more easily empathize with their friends.  However, overall in the me-centric minds of young children, feeling empathy can be difficult.  So how to develop empathy in your little heart?

Recently I was reading an article in Parenting magazine when I came across the following quote by parenting expert Michele Borba, Ed.D "Kids as young as three can learn empathy, tolerance and respect by helping the disabled".  What an awesome idea and one that is right in line with my mission at the little hearts project.  Obviously helping the disabled is just one avenue to explore to help children understand how others are feeling, but one that I think particularly impactful. 

There are many organizations that support children with disabilities - Special Olympics comes immediately to mind - but even something as simple as befriending a child with special needs would make a huge impression.  Doing so would help them to understand the joys or frustrations that their new friend might feel because of their abilities.  So considering helping your little heart to serve someone who is disabled.  This exposure is sure to be a wonderful start in developing empathy in your little heart.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

a special birthday post

Type:  donation
Age:  any

Getting the mail on your birthday is always fun - who doesn't love seeing brightly colored envelopes from friends and family!  As yesterday was my birthday (official age withheld :) I was the recipient of the birthday mail.  Imagine my surprise when I opened a card from my sister-in-law to find a certificate saying that a birthday gift bag in my honor had been given to Cheerful Givers.  Their mission is simple "To provide toy-filled birthday gift bags to food shelves and shelters so that parents living in poverty can give their child a birthday gift."  Whenever I get a personal gift that I know the giver really thought about what I would like it is so meaningful.   I can definitely say that the $10 donation to purchase one of these bags had far more value than the monetary cost of it!

For your little hearts next birthday consider checking this most special organization out! 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

little hearts, big impact

This morning I was reading this months edition of our local parenting magazine when I found an article about a little girl who was recently awarded a Spirit of Detroit Award for outstanding service.  And by little girl I mean 5 years old!!!  I immediately went to the web to find out more (you can read an article here). 

According to the articles I read, realizing during Halloween that some children were too sick to trick-or-treat, Rielly Rudolph set out to bring some spookiness to them.  With the help of family and classmates she decorated and donated 175 pumpkins to a local children's hospital which were put in common areas for all to enjoy. 

Needless to say, I was touched.  I love that Rielly saw a need and responded with empathy and action.  Little hearts at work.  My heart melts.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

the baking love affair continues...

Imagine my excitement when browsing through a magazine I stumbled upon the fact that next week is National Baking Week!  So maybe not exactly a Hallmark holiday, but something that I think my little ones would love to observe nonetheless.  My love of baking has been blogged about many times including here and here, oh and over here as well, but I have found baking to be the perfect vehicle for my little hearts and I to do something for others.  So in honor of National Baking week,  here are just a few ideas to get you thinking about who would love your homemade confections!
  • Take a loaf of bread to a new neighbor
  • Send brownies to a new mom
  • Make muffins for an elderly person
  • Drop off cookies to your local fire department
  • Deliver some unexpected goodies to your mail carrier
Once the flour settles send me your ideas of how you observed this special holiday :)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Serving those who serve us

Age:  Over 2
Type:  Baking
I have to admit I am kind of a baking junky.  To make matters worse, my middle daughter shares my affliction, so who am I to deny her darling pleas to 'make something with me momma'!  Luckily they also enjoy giving our baked creations away, because I never met a cookie I didn't like :)

Last week on the eve of St. Patrick's Day, the girls and I decided to whip up some awesome green mint cookies complete with Andie's mints on top.  For the kids St. Patrick's day is an excuse to wear green and go on leprechaun hunts, but for our local policeforce it is a very busy day I am sure as they try to keep us all safe.  So we decided to package up our green confections and deliver them to the local police station, complete with thank you cards.  It made the girl's day when the woman we delivered them to took the time to read each note they had worked so hard on! 

Here is where I would normally insert all the cute pictures of them baking and delivering cookies (complete with some funny poses outside the station).  Unfortunately some little hands got a hold of my camera and somehow deleted the pictures.  So you only get the little cartoon policeman - take my word for it, the other pics were darling!

So next time the urge to bake results in way more than you would ever want to eat, consider delivering some to your town's finest!

Friday, March 9, 2012

For all those budding computer geniuses....

Age:  Over 5
Type:  Activity

My oldest loves to play computer games.  Honestly, without a limit as to how long she could be on the computer hours could probably pass before she got tired of it.  So imagine my delight when I discovered a website that offers kids the opportunity to earn food for playing games!!!  Enter, a website the has quiz questions kids answer with the incentive of earning 10 grains of rice for every question answered correctly.  I was curious about how such a thing was made possible, but the rice is donated through ad sponsors who have banners on the site.  So cool!

I will pre-warn you that this is a more advanced project.  I had to read the questions aloud to my oldest and found many of the categories too difficult.  However, the basic math and vocabulary were perfect for my kindergartner.  As she answered questions correctly we could see the rice multiplying in her pretend bowl on the screen.  I found myself a bit addicted as well as I started in on some of the harder questions :)

So the next time your little heart sits down at the computer, consider for a fun way to serve others!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Garden Fresh

Age:  over 5
Type:  gardening

As the March winds continue to blow, here in Michigan I am ready for spring!  While is is still cold outside, now is the perfect time to get started thinking about planting flowers and and planning for our vegetable garden.  While browsing around, I stumbled upon a website to help you do just that - and help others at the same time!  Check out this link for Schools Fight Hunger which gives practical tips for planning and creating a garden at your child's school.  I also love the success stories to see what other kids are doing!  Fresh food is a luxury to those who struggle to put food on the table or rely on food shelters and pantries, so every bit you and your little heart can do will help! 

If your child's class or school organization is looking for a project this spring - this could be just the thing!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The latest over there....

Today was my second post over at Christian Children's Authors and I thought it would be one that you SAHMs would appreciate.  Check it out!

Drop In & Decorate

Age:  2 and up
Type:  Baking

As I read magazines I constantly find myself tearing out pages and filing them away as future projects for my little ones.  Recently I broke out the archives and stumbled upon this website, Drop in & Decorate.  The site is basically a one stop shop for setting up a cookie party where kids decorate and the finish projects are delivered to those who could use a little thank you or pick me up.  Baking is a perennial fav with my girls, but I love this site because it leaves nothing to the imagination and gives you great instructions on setting up a party and what type of organization to deliver the cookies to. 

I am thinking perfect for my next playgroup :)  What about you?  If you and your little hearts decide to drop in and decorate, send pics and I will happily post!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Look for me here.....

I am so excited to announce that as of today, I will be a contributing blogger on a new website for Christian authors which can be found here.  The site is full of awesome advice, recipes, musings and of course service project ideas (some coming from yours truly!) perfect for families.  I'll be posting over there the 1st and 3rd Thursday of the month, so definitely check it out!

the little hearts project will continue to be a great resource to inspire you to serve with your little ones!  Look for more great projects soon :)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Happy 2nd Birthday the little hearts project!

Two years ago I posted my very first service project idea here on the little hearts project - 76 posts later I am more passionate than ever about providing ways that families can work together to serve others!  God works in our lives in amazing and mysterious ways, and wouldn't you know that when I opened up my email, planning to write this post today, waiting for me was an exciting invitation to become a blogger on a new site that will be coming online soon!  I am always looking for new ways to spread the word about serving with our children, so I can't wait for this new opportunity.  As soon as the site is live to the public I will pass along the information, but in the mean time Happy Birthday tlhp and wishing you many more to come :)

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Calling all Book Lovers

Age: Any
Type:  Donation

So as an author myself of this book here, I am admittedly a little biased about reading.  I think, however, that as parents we can all agree of the importance of reading to our children.  While my house has shelves overflowing with books, not every child is so lucky.  With that in mind I wanted to give a heads up about Metro Parents Operation 25,000 books.  For those not familiar with Metro Parent, it is an awesome resource for Metro Detroit families.  They are celebrating their 25th anniversary this year and are attempting to donate 1,000 books for every year they have been around.  All books will go to the Detroit Parent Network.  For more information and to find out where to drop off your donation you can go here

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Another way to pass those long winter days

Age:  Over 5
Type:  Craft

Thanks to my friend and neighbor for sending over this project idea that she did with her daughter's Daisy Girl Scout Troop.  (Also shameless plug for scouts since I am my daughter's troop leader and love scouts :) 

I have blogged previously here and here about other projects with seniors, but there are so many great ideas that you can undertake with your little hearts.  In the project shown to the left, the girls did a craft project, placing tissue paper on a box to look like stained class.   Quoting my friend about the experience, "It was a great opportunity for the girls to visit and have some fun with the seniors.  It was all older ladies who really enjoy the company of  young children, especially during the long winter months in Michigan when they can't get out very easily."

Thanks for sharing!!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Spreading Kindess in 2012

While browsing our local online newspaper I came across a listing for a Kindness Challenge.  Kindness Challenge you say - I love these kinds of things!  Apparently I'm not the only one as a group of Minnesotans has started a grassroots effort to warm the world through kindness in 31 days.  You can check out their website here

Looking for inspiration... you are in the right place!  the little hearts project is filled with tons of age appropriate ideas.  Would love to hear your stories :)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

This ones for the birds

Type:  craft
Age:  over 3

Monday marked the end of the holiday vacation for my oldest daughter, but before she headed back we snuck in a few more projects! 

A morning playdate seemed like the perfect time for my girls to make a little treat for our feathered friends!  Each girl got their own "bird feeder station" consisting of pine cones, peanut butter, birdseed and age appropriate knife.  Then the girls got to work spreading and sprinkling to make some awesome pine cone bird feeders.

After I attached some string to the tops, our small Japanese maple was adorned in these winter decorations.  The fun didn't end there though, as the girls loved seeing who was visiting their pine cones for a snack! 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Salt Dough Cookie Ornaments

Age:  3 and up
Type:  Craft

A week before Christmas the girls and I set out to make salt cookie dough ornaments to adorn all the gifts for their grandparents.  I had seen this idea several times before, but this was our first attempt.  I have to say, that I enjoyed salt cookie dough way more than real cookies - much less nagging to stop eating the dough :)  The girls happily rolled out their dough below.

 After several LONG hours of baking and cooling, the ornaments were ready for decoration.  In retrospect I would advise doing the rolling/cutting one day, and the decorating the next.  Even I thought the cookies would never be ready - you can only imagine how the kiddos felt!
 We had just received a whole set of new paints for a birthday present several days earlier - so this was the perfect time to put them to good use.  The girls had a great time picking just the right ornament for their loved ones and carefully crafting it for them.  Definitely a successful project!

25DG&G: ReCap

Well my posts ended with day 14 but that does not mean the giving and gratitude ended there.  Rather, I think I was kidding myself to think I could keep up with the blog posts with all the holiday hussle!  Instead I think I will post a couple of our favorite acitivites that didn't get documented.  More to come :)

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