Making a difference in someone’s life isn’t always done in grand and obvious fashions. Most often the people who make a significant difference in the lives of others do so in small and seemingly simple ways. On the fourth Saturday of every October this idea is celebrated on a national level. What a wonderful idea to honor, and what a great way to bring your family together in an activity everyone can enjoy.
First, think about the people who have made any sort of a difference in your own life. Try to recall the feelings you experienced at their selfless gifts of love. How wonderful would it be to help make others feel that way as well?
One of my favorite memories involves my father. He worked quite a lot, trying to help make ends meet, and any time spent with him was truly treasured.
Sunday mornings were especially precious to me. He’d quietly sneak into my room, sit next to me on my bed, gather me up into his arms and then rock me awake. There’s something remarkable about being rocked awake. I loved it so much there were mornings I’d pretend to be asleep just to have those few minutes with my dad.
That one little act of love and kindness touched my life so much I now try to rock my children awake whenever possible. Of course it’s difficult to do with my daughter who, at nine, is almost as tall as I am and proves difficult to fit in my lap. It doesn’t help that she’s on the top bunk either, but I do what I can.
Next I’d like you to invite your children to take a look around them for the next week and try to find someone who might be in need of some help. It can be a neighbor, a friend from school, or even someone in your own home. Pray together about who you might be led to serve.
Here are just a few ideas for how your family can offer an act of kindness:
1. Yard Work: I know, those two words put together can clear a room of teenagers faster than announcing there’s free pizza outside. When done as a family with the right attitude, yard work can be a lot of fun. Keep the jobs age appropriate. Obviously your six-year old won’t be working a lawn mower, or using clippers to prune bushes. They can, however, help pull up weeds, make leaf piles (and play in them, just to make sure each pile is okay), and bag the leaves.
2. Bake something yummy: One of my family’s favorite things in the world to do is bake up some cookies, brownies, or cupcakes and find someone to take them to. Often we’ll write up a little note as well. These can easily be done anonymously, and the real fun comes in putting the treats on someone’s doorstep, knocking, and making a run for it. If the person you’re giving the goodies to is diabetic, consider putting together some stew or soup, or other sort of friendly meal.
3. If the weather is nasty and you can’t get outside, take some time to write a special note to someone you think might need it. Kids can color pictures for grandmas and grandpas, or church leader.
4. Look around your community. Are there ways your community can be served? My husband used to take our kids out with him, a few leftover grocery bags in hand, and walk around the neighborhood picking up garbage. My youth group helped plant trees in an area damaged by fire. There’s always something that can be done.
These are just a few ideas. Think about what might work for your own family.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a church of service. It’s one of our most powerful missionary tools. If we begin to teach our children at a young age the joy in serving others, it will continue on with them throughout their lives.