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.

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