Mitzvahs with kids

Last week, a mom contacted me after reading my blog and wondered if I could suggest some meaningful mitzvah/volunteer work she could do with her young children. Here are my top ten ideas for mitzvahs to do with kids.

Delivering Valentine-o-grams with my 2-year-old daughter.
  1. If your child loves being in the car, deliver something. It could be food to seniors, special events like the Valentine-o-grams I have mentioned in the past or picking up perishable foods from a school or restaurant and delivering it to a local food pantry.
  2. Have a lemonade stand or bake sale and give the proceeds to a non-profit that your kids might know, for example, a Humane Society or a local food bank or to a charity collecting after a natural disaster. If donating locally, arrange to have your kids deliver the money in person and maybe even get a tour of the place you have donated.
  3. Collect cans for a food bank. Even the littlest children can help do this. My kids were 6 and 9 when we took a wagon through a neighborhood near our synagogue to collect cans for a synagogue sponsored event. We discovered it was like trick or treating with a twist and the kids really enjoyed it. You could let them choose a few items each week at the supermarket to donate in the food collection barrels many stores now have in front.
  4. Volunteer to collect children’s books. We have an organization called The Children’s Book Bank in Portland, maybe there is one in your town that collects children’s books and gives them to needy children.
  5. Visit a senior center/retirement home. Contact the activities director and see if you can bring the kids in to visit during a meal or a game time.
  6. Bake something and give it to someone. My daughter loves to bake and I have enlisted her several times now to bake for a shiva call (a visit during the period of Jewish observance after the death of a loved one). Children could also bring something they have baked to elderly neighbors or relatives.

    Make cookies for a bake sale or bring them to an elderly neighbor.
  7. Visit someone in the hospital. Do you know of anyone who is in need of a visit? Children can often cheer up someone sick in the hospital.
  8. Volunteer at school. Often younger siblings can come and help when there are opportunities to volunteer at school. My children have joined me to  collect auction items, drive for a field trip, give out fundraising material, set up for a school related event and even stuff mailers.
  9. Pull weeds. We helped at our school garden. My kids loved getting dirty and muddy more than I did. There is probably somewhere in your city that would love your gardening help.
  10. Still not sure where to volunteer, check out: Hands On Network. If you have a Hands On in your community, it is a great place to start. This organization keeps a calendar of volunteer opportunities and what specific ages can volunteer in hundreds of cities across the US.

I have recorded my 800th mitzvah this week

Hooray, I have hit a new milestone. Mitzvah #800. I am 4/5 of the way to my goal. I can’t believe that December 1st will be two years since my father died. What a learning process it has been. When my father first died there was just sadness and darkness. I know for me, time did help me heal and life continues to move on. I feel that my father’s presence is with me often and I think about it at unusual times. I remember many people telling me their own stories of their loved one’s right after he had died and now I am the one who has stories to tell. I am grateful for the learning that has come from this loss and hope I can help another with what I have learned.

800) Last Thursday, I shared my idea of the mitten tree with my networking group. Immediately we raised $250 towards gift certificates for this group. It was awesome. We already have almost half of the gifts we needed to get for the group. One idea and many people can make a huge impact. Together we can achieve more.

801) A friend emailed me that she was doing a 10 mile race for a charity in the town we grew up in. I made a pledge for her race.

802) Let a neighbor know that he had left his car lights on in the driveway.

803) Volunteered in my daughter’s classroom.

804) Gabrielle and her friend donated money to the Oregon Humane Society.

805) Lent a stranger my calculator when she needed one.

806) Complimented an older gentleman on a lovely cap he was wearing.

807) Picked up some trash on my walk.

Today, I witnessed a couple of mitzvahs at a children’s play place. A nervous grandmother ran to help a child get down the stairs before he fell. A girl brought a cell phone back to the front desk when she found it in the climbing maze.

I also received a mitzvah this week. I attended a local book festival last weekend. While I was walking around, I met one of the vendors. She wrote a book called Send a Sign. After talking for several minutes, she gave me a copy of her book. It was such a wonderful gesture and I have already started reading and enjoying it.