An important lesson which my wife and I have taught as part of our homeschooling is that we are all part of a larger community, and we need to foster strong connections with our community.
One of the ways that our family has found to strengthen our bonds with our community is through our community giving project. We are all called to share what we have with our neighbors, and our family has used that calling to give back to our community in creative and memorable ways.
Through our community giving projects, we have experienced the joy of sharing, and we have been able to make a difference in the lives of our neighbors.
Concentrating our Efforts
Our family began our community giving project by choosing three areas of interest in which we would plan to concentrate our efforts for sharing with our neighbors. As a family, we chose the areas of animals, education, and medical care. We selected these areas for a variety of reasons.
It was easy to choose to give to animals. First, there is an animal shelter in our community, and second, although we do not have any of our own pets, we all like animals.
We chose education because there is always an opportunity to help with education, and as homeschoolers, education is near to our hearts.
The choice for medical care was based on the fact that there are two major hospitals in our community, and one of them is an important teaching and research facility.
Through these hospitals, many families come to our community in order to receive special care, and we wanted to reach out to those families and the personnel who are serving them.
Opportunities to be Creative
Our family has emphasized that our giving should be a joyful experience. We believe that the more fun we have in sharing, the more we will want to give, and the more joy we will be able to spread to others. One way for us to make our projects a fun experience is to use giving back to the community as an opportunity to be creative. We have tried to be creative in how we gave and what we gave.
First, as a reminder of our community giving projects, we each made a craft for each of the areas of giving. We made a small representation of an animal shelter, a school, and a hospital. Each of us made one and decorated it. These three representations serve as reminders for our chosen areas and the project as a whole.
We have also been creative in how we have given. Our giving has been a combination of financial aid, specific items, and time, and we like to stress variety in order to always keep the giving interesting. Once, for instance, we gave of our time and financial resources through fostering five shelter kittens for two weeks.
Another way that our daughter gave of her time was by planning and running a lemonade stand with her friend in order to donate all of her proceeds. We also have shared our time by picking up trash at a local park. A final example is that through our parish, we have provided backpacks filled with school supplies for students at a local school.
An important idea for keeping the giving fun is to incorporate our interests in the giving. For instance, our family enjoys art and making crafts. During the Easter season, we made handmade Easter wreaths which were given away to an elderly care facility.
One Christmas, we made handmade Christmas cards for display at another elderly care facility. More recently, we made stuffed animals and a children’s picture book to give to children who are staying in our community for medical treatment.
Rich Learning Experiences
Giving back to the community has been a rich opportunity to learn about our neighbors. Through our community giving, our daughter has learned about the different ways to give and the different needs that people have. She has been part of the giving from start to finish.
Our flexible schedule means that she can help deliver donations in the middle of the school day and meet the people who receive the donations. She has seen firsthand that our community is made up of people with names and faces, and we have the opportunity to meet them and share with them.
By making our community giving a project, we have tried to insure that our purposeful sharing remains an important part our lives. We wanted our giving to be a regular part of our family’s life in our community, and we did not want planned sharing to be forgotten among all of our homeschooling and other activities.
To reach that goal, we have tried to complete a community giving project on a monthly basis and to cycle through the three areas of giving before repeating an area. The project has also helped to teach goal setting, planning, scheduling, allocating resources, and completing goals.
Through our community giving, we have had the wonderful opportunity to grow as a family through sharing what we have with our neighbors. We have emphasized making the project fun through creativity and variety. Through our giving, we have also made deeper connections with the members of our community, which in turn has strengthened our family and increased our commitment to continue to share our family with the people of our community.
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