If you are personal friends with me on Facebook or follow my blog’s Facebook page, then you may have seen me mention a little project I did with Lilly this year – Random Acts of Christmas Kindness (RACKs, for short).
Before I go any further into this post, I really do want to preface it with this… I was actually very hesitant to share this whole “project” and all of it on social media at first. That’s pretty much why I didn’t share anything about it outside of my personal Facebook account (with friends and family). I am normally of the mindset that random acts of kindness should be done for the genuine sake of doing them and that they don’t need to be shouted from the rooftops. And while I will get to the heart behind this in a second, the reason I decided to share them was two-fold:
- Peer pressure. Haha! I had a ton of close friends and family practically BEG me to post the pictures each day of what we were doing. It also ended up motivating OTHERS to do the same! In fact, I had AT LEAST four or five other families let me know that they started doing RACKs after they saw ours! SO AWESOME! I love that the kindness was spreading all over!
- We all need a smile and something positive right now. There’s just been A LOT of negativity and a lot of darkness in our world and on social media lately. I feel like every other day I read something on Facebook that is just downright sad, tragic, hurtful, scary, etc. Sharing these RACK posts was not only a breath of fresh air for me, but it turned out to be that for a lot of other people, too! I loved getting messages from my friends and family telling me how they looked forward to our daily RACK posts!
So, I opted to share it. Some people might not like that we did, but guess what? You can’t please everyone. 🙂
NOW, to the project and our heart behind it. John and I have been trying to come up with something to start as a tradition with our kids that cultivates and encourages a selfless, giving heart… especially at Christmastime. I LOVE the magic of Christmas, but I don’t want this time of year to be all about “stuff” and “gimme gimme gimme.” Presents are fun and I LOVE giving and receiving presents… but I don’t ever want that to be what Christmas is about for our family.
To me, the true meaning and heart of Christmas is about Jesus and His gift to us and living a life in service to others. It’s about giving to others and showing others what it means to serve and love. I want that to be the focus of Christmas for our family.
In years past, our family has done things like “adopt” another family in need and purchase Christmas presents for them, taken them meals, etc. in addition to other mini-service-oriented things like that. But we wanted to do something more. I came across some “giving” and “random acts of kindness” advent calendars and I thought that this would be the PERFECT thing to start with our family! Plus, Lilly is pretty much at the ideal age to start something like this!
So, the Random Acts of Christmas Kindness happened! I made a calendar of all the activities we would do and we talked with Lilly about it. We went through all of it with her and really explained to her the purpose behind it. And, much to my surprise (even though I shouldn’t have been surprised), she really caught on. After a few days, she was asking each day what “kind thing” we were going to do that day. She got SO into it!
This ended up being SUCH a blessing and such a fun project and I can’t WAIT to continue it for years to come!
I realize this is a long post, but I wanted to share with y’all what we did, a little summary of each day’s activity, and (of course) pictures!
I hope this inspires you to do something similar with your family in years to come! And don’t feel like you have to wait until next December! This is the type of thing that should be done all year ’round!
Our Random Acts of Christmas Kindness (day-by-day recap)
Day 1: Lilly absolutely LOVES the library and story time, so she decorated a thank you card for the librarians and brought them a box of candy canes to thank them for all they do. She walked right in and handed the card and box to the librarians and said, “Here you go! Thank you, library!”
Day 2: We baked sugar cookies and Lilly “drew a picture” to staple to the bags of cookies and we walked them around to the houses in our cul-de-sac. She said, “Merry Christmas!” and was most excited to ring the “ring bell” at each door. The most interesting thing to me is we really do live in a day and age where we don’t interact with our neighbors much… We keep to ourselves and so someone ringing our doorbell is almost strange to us. All of our neighbors were almost wary to answer the door. But when they saw Lilly’s smiling face and a bag of cookies, it all turned around! I mean, who could be scared of this face? It was definitely a nice reminder though that we need to reach out to our neighbors more and interact with the people directly around us.
Day 3: We searched high and low for a vending machine and found this “treat station” at the mall. Lilly wanted all the “kreets” for herself, but we talked about how we are gonna leave money for OTHER people to enjoy a “kreet.” She said, “okay mommy! I tape the money to the kreets!” And ended up loving sticking the change on the machine. We left a little note along with it. It was fun! Also, yes, she had to bring her Doc McStuffins microphone to the mall.
Day 4: This “RACK” ended up being surprisingly extra special and sweet. Lilly and I took a “goodie gift bag” filled with lotions, jewelry making and craft kits to a nursing home down the street that specializes in patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia. When we arrived to drop off the bag, the activities coordinator invited us in to come and meet some of the residents who don’t get visitors very often. I wasn’t sure how Lilly would do, but I figured we should try! So we went back and sat with a few different groups of residents for awhile and Lilly did great. She even met a sweet resident named Lilly! My Lilly gave all the residents high fives and pounds and smiled so big. The joy on their faces interacting with her was just too sweet and almost too much for me to handle. As we were walking out, the activities coordinator said that many of those residents that we met don’t get to see their family or other friends very often and how much they love children. She said meeting Lilly really made their day. However, I’d say our day was made FAR more than theirs. Lilly is STILL talking about meeting Lilly and all the high fives. I think we may try to make visiting this nursing home a regular thing!
Day 5: John and I were actually out of town for a wedding, but Lilly’s awesome Papa and Bomma took over for her RACK. Today was putting back all the rogue shopping carts in a parking lot. (If you know me, you know that shopping carts that are left strewn about is a huge pet peeve of mine and I can’t leave them alone… I have to put them back). Lilly was apparently ALL about pushing the carts and loved helping! I mean, pushing things around is essentially one of her favorite activities as it is. We are so grateful that her grandparents would do this fun activity with her!
Day 6: This RACK was to buy someone’s gas. I wasn’t quite sure how we’d do this one, so we ended up going to the gas station and buying a few gift cards for gas. We went out to the lot and waited for cars to pull in to the pumps. Lilly walked right up to the cars and handed the driver the gift card saying, “MERRY CHRISTMAS!” She immediately would run back and say, “I did it all by myself!” It was awesome.
Day 7: This day was trash and recycling day in our neighborhood and goodness knows how much I despise bringing the trash cans up from the street… So, as our RACK, Lilly and I went around to all the houses in our cul-de-sac and a couple down the street and brought the cans up from the curb for our neighbors. If I’m being honest, Lilly gave a valiant effort… but was not actually that much help. She was cute though and really WANTED to help… so that’s what matters! (And since then, it’s started a wave in our neighborhood of neighbors bringing the cans up for each other!)
Day 8: We had to improvise our RACK on day 8. Our original one we weren’t able to do, so we thought on our feet… We headed to a local shopping center and we decided to hand out cookies and donuts to people out shopping! Most people were actually very skeptical and thought we were selling something. Lilly just kept saying, “Merry Christmas! Eat a cookie and donut!” I reassured people that we were not, in fact, trying to scam them and that we were really just trying to give them a sweet treat to make them smile… Most people ended up obliging but we did still encounter a few naysayers. Lilly also made friends with Michael, the Salvation Army bell ringer and he asked her if she wanted to ring the bell for a bit. She. Lost. Her. Mind. Ringing the bell was pretty much the best thing ever. Oh, and she also may have snuck a donut when I wasn’t looking for a second. She knew the donuts weren’t for her and so the sweet look of innocent guilt on her face was hilarious. I forgave her. Even though it wasn’t what we’d originally planned, it ended up being a great time!
Day 9: For this one, Lilly helped to color and decorate a bunch of cards and we wrote notes on them like, “You’re awesome!” “You are loved!” “We hope you have an awesome day!” “Just wanted you to know you rock!” etc. We then put the notes in envelopes with a little treat. After dinner, we went to the Wal-Mart parking lot and put them on the windshields of random cars. Lilly picked each car and her FAVORITE part was lifting up the windshield wipers and stuffing the note in for the person to find. She loved this one and was so excited to “give treats to all the people!”
Day 10: Lilly took handmade thank you cards and freshly baked chocolate chip cookies to her BSF (bible study fellowship) children’s leaders, Ms. Joy and Ms. Kari. Those women selflessly volunteer their time each week to wrangle a bunch of two year olds and teach them all about Jesus. Lilly absolutely ADORES them and leaves our BSF class each week singing songs and telling me all that she learned. We are forever grateful to her teachers and a little treat is the least we could do to thank them for all they do!
Day 11: We had a BUSY morning! This RACK was to write a card to a deployed solider. After asking around, we got the names and addresses of 8 different soldiers deployed right now all over the world! So, Lilly and I decorated cards for each one and wrote a note thanking them for their service and sacrifice to our country. I also included a little picture of Lilly with each card so they would know who sent it to them! She really loved this activity and drew ALL THE DRAWINGS and put SO many stickers on each card. (I hope they don’t mind Frozen and Doc McStuffins stickers...) Our prayer is that each service man or woman who receives these cards is blessed by them and that they bring a smile to their faces. Lilly also enjoyed stamping the envelopes and putting them in the mailbox!
Day 12: We took a big gift bag full of some new and gently used children’s books and coloring books to the UNC Children’s Hospital. I had Lilly pick out a couple books from her shelf to donate and we also included a couple new copies of her FAVORITE books, “Little Owl’s Night” and “Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type.” We just wish we could see the faces of the sweet kiddos that will get to read and color them!
Day 13: This one was a silly one… we “Candy Caned” a parking lot! We got a couple packages of candy canes and then went around the parking lot of a nearby store and left a Christmas treat on everyone’s car. Lilly was a BIG fan of hanging the candy canes from door handles… “I did it! All by myself!” It was kinda neat because we saw someone get into their car after we had left the treat on it and they had their little girl with them and the little girl was so excited about the surprise treat! When we hung the last candy cane she said, “Okay! That was the last one! We’re all done now! Bye bye, candy canes! See you next week!”
Day 14: This was a special one for the Lilly’s preschool director and teacher! To say Lilly adores these two is an understatement. Ms. Alana and Ms. Cate are just amazing with her and the other kids at her preschool and we are so so so thankful for all they do! I wasn’t sure if putting Lilly in preschool this year (even if it is only two days a week) would be the best decision… But it turns out it was. I’m SO GRATEFUL we did this. To see all Lilly has learned and how much she’s grown and to see how much these amazing women pour into the kids is amazing. Lilly made cards for each teacher and included some baked goodies. It’s the least we could do to thank them!
Day 15: For this one, we had a fun treat lined up for someone. We left a note with a dollar bill and a bag of popcorn taped to the REDBOX machine at a local store. The note said to enjoy a movie and popcorn on us! Lilly loved it! We left the treat taped under the sunscreen so it would really be a nice little surprise when they lifted it up!
Day 16: We went to stop by and visit a dear friend who just had twins! And for our RACK, we brought them a home cooked meal and some snacks!
Day 17: This one was hard to “photograph” because well, it was pouring rain and we were in the car for it – so this was the best we could do. Our RACK for the day was the standard, common, yet still oh-so-fun act of paying for the person behind us in the drive through. This is one we love to do just randomly throughout the year, too! I talked with Lilly about it the whole time telling her what we were doing and continuing to drive home the importance of what all these things are really about.
Day 18: This RACK was so much fun I can’t even begin to tell you! So, we originally planned on taking supplies to the local animal shelter, but I felt the nudge to touch base with a dear friend, Melinda, first before we did anything. Melinda is a Deputy with the Durham County Sheriff’s Office and works in the Animal Control and Animal Services department (I hope I’m saying all that right)…
Anyway, I reached out to her to see what kinds of needs there were. Well, it turns out that LOTS of people make donations of supplies to the shelter (especially this time of year), many of which the shelter can’t even use, but Animal Control almost always gets left out and they’re almost always in need of stuff. So, Lilly and I took some boxes of canned dog food and canned cat food (these are best for putting in traps to attract the animal they’re trying to catch / save), dog and cat treats, and even little things like mini-hand sanitizers (I can imagine they need lots of these!!), pens, and small notepads for the officers.
The officers at Animal Control were super grateful for the donations! And then, as a treat, Melinda took Lilly on a tour and she got to go “behind the scenes” and meet some animal friends! She met Pearl the Ball Python (I stood back for that one!), a bunny rabbit, some birds, Guinea pigs, kitty cats, doggies, and her personal favorite – Cookies & Cream the goat! She even got goat kisses and got to feed the goat. Lilly had the time of her life. SO thankful for Melinda being so willing to show Lilly around!
And if you see an officer, be sure to thank them for all they do!
Day 19: Today’s RACK was to donate food to a local food pantry. I apparently didn’t plan this one well because all the local food banks are closed on the weekends for donations. BUT, our local Kroger actually partners with the North Carolina food bank to accept donations on their behalf – so we went that route instead. I had Lilly pick out some canned food and non perishable items from our pantry and put them in a bag and she and her daddy took the bag into the store to put in the donation bin. This is a great one for anyone to do this time of year – just pick up some extra items when you’re grocery shopping and put them in the donation bins at your local drop off location! Help people not go hungry this season.
Day 20: Because of the weather forecast for the week, we switched a couple days around and opted to do this particular RACK on this day since today was going to be the “coldest” day that week. Earlier this month we got a case of Hot Hands and a box of winter gloves (you can buy them in packs of 12 on Amazon!)… So, we packed up a bunch of “warm hands” care packages (they include a pair of gloves, a pair of Hot Hands, and we even threw in an invitation to our church’s Christmas Eve services!) and we handed them out to homeless people in the area. We also kept a bunch of extra packages for people that we see when we are out and about. This is actually something we like to do every year is have a bunch of these on hand in the car to give to homeless people we see while we are driving around town – it’s especially great to hand out when you know some cold days and nights are ahead!
Day 21: We headed to our favorite local park to do a good ol’ fashioned park cleanup. We picked up trash around some of the common areas, on the playground and by the sidewalks / paths. Not necessarily the most fun, but we picked up a lot of trash and tried to leave the park nicer than we found it. And, of course, we ended our little cleanup session with some swinging and sliding on the playground!
Day 22: We wanted to put together a little “thank you” package for our postal worker. Between being a blogger and my love for Amazon prime, we get A LOT of mail and packages delivered to this house and we wanted to thank our postal carrier for all she does! Lilly decorated and colored a big thank you card and we put together a little goodie bag of snacks, treats and baked goods. We also gave some treats to the UPS guy!
Day 23: We headed over to our local fire station and brought the volunteer EMS and fire department a batch of freshly baked cookies and a thank you card! Lilly was mostly excited to see the big fire truck, but she had a great time coloring the card for the “fi fightas.”
Day 24: We concluded our “official” random acts of Christmas kindness by thanking the people who do so much, day in and day out, in the name of the Lord we are celebrating this Christmas! Our pastors and staff at our church, newhope church, have been working tirelessly for months and we know they’ve made huge sacrifices in the name of Jesus. A little thank you from us to them is the least we can do!
What about you? Have you ever done anything similar? What kinds of traditions have you started with your kids? Or maybe do you have a tradition you WANT to start?
Welcome to Let it Shine…..the new, revamped Funday Monday! After two years….we decided to rename our link up to something we felt would be a better fit. Thus, Let it Shine! Why the name? Because we want this link up to be just that…..your chance to let it shine. We’ll be sharing our favs here each week and on social media……
Another place we will be showcasing our favs? The Let It Shine Pinterest Board