Caring for The Environment
We talk about taking good care of the earth, including preservation of nature, beautification, and litter walks.
Reaching out to Service Members and Veterans
We send gratitude cards to service members and veterans, thanking them for giving their time to keep us safe. We do not mention military branches or overseas assignments — that is something families can choose to discuss when their children are ready to know more. Young children who are not familiar with family separation can find the concept upsetting; for this reason, we do not mention deployment. We recommend that parents gauge their child’s readiness for this topic and discuss this with a sense of privacy, as other families might not be ready to overhear.
When we do a project near Memorial Day or Veteran’s Day, our focus is on gratitude for service members and veterans who can receive our messages. We leave the in memoriam aspect of Memorial Day to families.
Spreading Cheer to People with Illnesses
Some of our favorite projects involve making decorations, blankets, or friendship messages for people who are hospitalized or terminally ill. We talk about how our gifts will cheer someone who has to spend a lot of time at the doctor or who doesn’t feel well. We do not discuss the severity of illness.
We often make items for children who are hospitalized without ever mentioning the word “hospital.” We talk about how sometimes kids are sick and need comfort or cheer. We don’t talk about sleeping away from home or having medical procedures. That level of information is for families to share, when they feel it is appropriate for their child to know more.
Giving to Community Members in Need
We often add a “drive” component to our projects, asking families to bring an item for a collection such as food pantry items, new socks and underwear, children’s books, and school supplies. We encourage families to include children in the choosing and shopping for these items, as this is where the lessons of social responsibility take place — standing in the store aisle picturing what would make someone else feel good. When we discuss donations, we talk about the reality that some community members “might not have enough” and this is why we share with them, because we know how good it feels to have tasty favorite foods, cozy socks, fun underwear, special books, or supplies to start a new school year. We titrate this information gently, as it can be overwhelming for children to imagine poverty or even homelessness. Therefore, our focus is always on spreading cheer and comfort, allowing families to decide when their children are old enough to widen their empathy bit by bit.
In collecting donations, we also talk about dignity. Specifically, we talk about giving items that are the same quality that we would choose for ourselves and our loved ones. Damaged clothing and expired food are NOT appropriate donations. We find that children are really receptive to the idea of dignity — that their donations are a gift to others and should be giftable quality.
The inclusion of a friendship message or gift tag helps our Cubs understand that donations and volunteerism are gifts thoughtfully given to others.
Spreading Cheer to the Elderly
We love visiting nursing homes and they love having us there! We encourage families to help children know that some older community members are sometimes a little lonely. That sentiment also is helpful when we are making cards or artwork to deliver to a home.
Comfort for Homeless Adults and Youth
We have had several projects where we have made blankets, scarves, and toiletry packs for organizations serving homeless individuals. We do NOT discuss homelessness. Instead, we focus on how good it will feel for someone else to have a special blanket, a cozy scarf, or personal care items. We often attach a gift tag to handmade blankets and scarves, including a message of encouragement.
Care for Sheltered Pets
We do talk openly about pets that are waiting for adoption. Animal shelter projects are a gentle opportunity to talk about pet care and how animals are cared for by amazing volunteers on a daily basis. Occasionally families get inspired during our project and adopt a pet of their own!