Thursday, December 29, 2011

Advent Giving Quest - Week 4 Report

Last week was the 4th week of Advent. We celebrated my third child's 5th birthday on Wednesday the 21st, which was also the last day of school for my oldest three for 2011.

On Thursday, we bought the meal for the person behind us in the drive thru line at Chick-fil-a :-) Then, that afternoon we went with my kid's cousins to visit a few of the convents in town to bring them fruit baskets.
Then, on Friday, we went caroling with my family, my mom, her husband and my two sisters. We first visited one of my grandparent's friends.
I love this picture of my four caroling children :-)
Then, we visited a sweet friend from our church who we sing with in the adult choir. He was so precious and had hot chocolate ready for us.
Finally, we visited one of my mother's friends from her church, also a precious woman!
It sure was fun spreading God's love and joy to these people.

This year, we put our Christmas treat downstairs and my mom made a felt Christmas tree for our living room. During Thanksgiving break Colby, Abigail & Isaiah helped her make felt ornaments. Then, as we did different Random Acts of Christmas Kindness, we printed the pictures and put them on felt for our tree.
Wow, hard to believe the 4 weeks of Advent are over & we are now in the Christmas season. I have really enjoyed our Advent Giving Quest this past month & am planning on continuing Random Acts of Kindness throughout this year.

Thinking about each thing we have done, it's exciting to think about the possibilities of what we began. If each random act was continued on or inspired someone else to help someone, that would be awesome. It reminds me of a song and a video - Steve Weeks has a song called Someday that's all about passing it on. The lyrics are here and a sample of the song can be found here. I also saw this video on a friend's facebook page the other day - such an amazing video about passing it on!!!

Merry Christmas and Happy Giving into the New Year!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Advent Giving Quest - Week 3 report & Week 4 plan

This sure has been a busy week, but we were able to squeeze in a few Random Acts of Christmas Kindness. This past Thursday after school, I took Colby, Abigail & her friend to the laundrymat on the way home. Thankfully there were 3 people doing their laundry, so each of the kids were able to give them a card with $1.50 in quarters in it. One of the ladies even followed us out and said what a blessing it was.
So much fun!!
I ended up purchasing quite a few of the items for our Angel Tree recipients online and finished up my shopping at Old Navy on Thursday. I wanted to get my kids more involved in the picking out and purchasing of gifts, but it would have been too crazy with all 4 of them. On Friday, my mom helped me wrap each gift individually, then we put all the presents in a big wrapped box. We were able to bless a 7 yr old girl, 14 yr old girl, and a woman in a nursing home. It's hurts my heart thinking especially about these children who have probably had to deal with so many issues my children don't even know exist - possibly being unfed, unclothed, parents being unemployed or addicted to a drug or alcohol, or other challenges. I am so thankful for all we have and all we are blessed with. I hope through this Advent Giving Quest my children have been able to feel the joy in giving and helping others & also been able to realize how truly blessed we are.

Last night, I braved Walmart to shop for this week's groceries and took Colby with me. It was crazy full of people, as we are supposed to have a blizzard this afternoon. When we checked out, Colby asked the clerk her favorite type of gum & bought it for her. She thanked us probably 3 times. Then, he gave the person behind us in line a $10 gift card to walmart on our way out & she was truly touched.

For this the last week of Advent, we plan on buying the order for the person behind us in a fast food drive-thru lane. On Thursday, we plan on blessing some sisters at a few of the convents here with goodies and carols. Then, on Friday, my family is planning on caroling to a few of my grandparent's friends. We started this tradition last year & it was so wonderful! We will also continue handing out the candy canes and m&ms.

My kids have a few more days in school, before being out for Christmas break, so the days will be filled with Christmas parties and fun with friends. We will celebrate Isaiah's 5th birthday on Wednesday & then my precious sisters will be coming to town on Wednesday and Friday. Our week will also be filled with final preparations for the music for the Christmas eve masses at church. I have the last presents to wrap, sweet treats to make, laundry to do & my house to clean - but, we WILL take time and slow down to enjoy the time we have together with family & friends making memories and enjoying this beautiful season of giving.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Advent Giving Quest - Week 2 report & Week 3 plan

I know it's already Tuesday and I'm finally getting this posted, but I want to stay up to date with our happenings. Please excuse the poor quality of some of the photos in this post. Somehow I was only able to take pictures with my phone during some of our givings, but I still wanted to document it.

Last week, we had a great week of giving!! Last Thursday, my children had the day off because it was a Holy Day, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. So, we took the opportunity to begin our day with giving. We first visited one of the Fire Houses close to my mom's house & brought them 2 dozen donuts. One of the firemen noticed my kid's jackets with their school's logo & said he goes to the church.
Then, we went to another Fire House and brought them 2 dozen donuts also.
They were very welcoming and offered to have us take a picture in front of the firetruck.
Then, one of the firemen let the kids get in the truck.
He let them try on the helmet and look at some of the gear.The kids all enjoyed it!Then, we went to a nursing home to bring a few gifts to their residents.
The kids did an amazing job going up to the people and giving them gifts.After all of our giving, we were able to meet lots of our friends at church and decorate cookies together, color Christmas sheets, watch a Christmas movie, and sing Christmas carols together - such an awesome full day!!

This past Saturday, I took my oldest two and one of Abigail's friends for more giving. We first went to the Dollar Store and picked out some mylar balloons.
We loaded up into the car with all 9 balloons & headed to the mall!Each of the kids had 3 balloons tied on their wrists & I held a basket with candy canes, m&ms, and Christmas books. The balloons sure did catch the attention of people as we were walking through the mall. The kids were on the lookout for young children who might not be enjoying their shopping experience :-) All 3 of them had a great time giving them away!! Thinking back on it, they didn't ask once to keep one of the balloons, pretty precious.
When we made it down to the children's play area, I held the 5 balloons we had left and each of them took a Christmas book into the play area to give away. Abigail's friend had no reservation & walked right up to a parent sitting on a bench & asked if her child would like the book. Thankfully she said yes! I happened to be standing behind her and her friends & it was so neat watching them open the book and read the card about Random Acts of Christmas Kindness inside. Here's a picture of them walking away after giving it to them:You can barely see the 2 girls scoping out who they would give the other book to - As we were walking through the mall and looking through a few stores, the kids were able to give away some of the Christmas books, candy canes & m&ms to some of the people working in Gap, Victoria's Secret Dillard's. They also gave them to some a few people sitting on the benches throughout the mall.

This past week, we were also able to give the candy canes & m&ms to various people we came in contact with. The best story so far happened Tuesday evening after the kid's Christmas play at school. We went through the drive through at our local coffee shop to get hot chocolate to drink while we drove around looking at Christmas lights. I had Abigail come up and give the person who made our coffee a Candy Cane with the story attached to it. He was so appreciative & said it was the best tip he had ever gotten & as we drove away I heard him telling his fellow employees how excited he was with what he had been given. So fun!!

Here's our plan for Week 3 of our Advent Giving Quest:
Thursday after school, we will stop by the Laundrymat that's on our way home & bless people with the cards with $1.50 in quarters inside.
Friday after school, we will go shopping for the 3 people we will be buying Christmas gifts for from the Angel Tree at church.
We also need to get more candy canes & M&Ms and attach the Christmas story to each to give away. They work great for giving away to anyone we come in contact with!

As the opportunities arise, we also plan on:
Grocery Store - buy a gift card and hand it to the person checking out behind me.
Grocery Store - buy a package of gum & give it to the checkout clerk
Grocery Store - buy a coffee or hot chocolate & give it to the Salvation Army bell ringer when leaving the store
Restaurants - hand out coupons that I have or small gift cards before leaving restaurant
Restaurants - Leave a small gift for waiter/waitress
Drive-Thru Restaurant - pay for person behind me in line

As I read on a friend's Facebook page this morning, "A little *spark* of kindness can put a COLOSSAL BURST of sunshine into someone's day!"

Have a wonderful week of Giving!!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Advent Giving Quest - Week 1 Report & Week 2 Plan

Advent has begun!! This past week, on the evenings we were home to eat dinner together, we began reading through a Family Advent book the kids received last year from St. Nicholas. It had great short readings with thoughts about Advent and even tied in with our giving plan for the season!
On Monday, my mom, my kids and I put together quite a few packages to give out during Advent. We put the Candy Cane story onto candy canes, M&M nativity story on individual M&M packages, taped quarters into cards, and packaged candles and body lotion sets.
Jacob enjoyed "reading" books while we were putting together our gifts.
Abigail had fun taping all of the quarters on the cards:Isaiah joined us for a while helping out too!Mom and I finished up the preparation of all the gifts, as my kids got a little side-tracked!
Here's our completed packages ready to give away! We divided up the packages between me and my mom and put them in our cars so we would have them throughout the week.
Throughout this past week, we were able to bless quite a few people with Random Acts of Christmas Kindness! Here's a few pictures of our actions:
My mom gave away a package at the post office:
and the bank:
On Monday, Isaiah went to Walmart with me for groceries and he asked our checkout clerk what her favorite gum was, then we gave it to her with a card when we left. It made all of us smile :-)
We met my mom at a few laundrymats on Tuesday and each of my children were able to give away a card with $1.50 in quarters taped to it to six different individuals.

They all loved giving them away!!
Their school is doing a drive to collect items for a local association to help less fortunate children and the SPCA. Each of my kids were able to donate a bag full each of items for this cause.
Abigail decided to give a few more things the next day of her own toys.
Isaiah gave our checkout teller at World Market a Candy Cane with the story on Wednesday.

My mom gave gifts at Texas Roadhouse, Stockyards restaurant, United, Outback, home Bug Sprayer, and our hair dresser. She also bought coffee for a Salvation Army bell ringer at United.

It was a VERY successful week of Random Acts of Christmas Kindness!

Week 2 of Advent Giving Quest Plan:

This Thursday is December 8th, the Feast of Immaculate Conception, so my children have the day off from school. We are going to use this opportunity to get started early with giving that day! We are planning on delivered donuts to a firehouse and then bringing candy canes, m&ms, and small gifts to a few nursing homes.

We are also planning on Saturday to go to the mall (after picking up mylar balloons at the dollar store) to handout balloons to children shopping with their parents, putting Christmas books at the children's play area, handing out coupons for free food at Chick-fil-a (I bought these at a silent auction), & handing out Candy Cane & M&Ms with their stories.

As the opportunities arise, we also plan on:

Grocery Store - buy a gift card and hand it to the person checking out behind me.

Grocery Store - buy a package of gum & give it to the checkout clerk

Grocery Store - buy a coffee or hot chocolate & give it to the Salvation Army bell ringer when leaving the store

Restaurants - hand out coupons that I have or small gift cards before leaving restaurant

Restaurants - Leave a small gift for waiter/waitress

Drive-Thru Restaurant - pay for person behind me in line

Have a wonderful week of Giving!!!