Monday, March 28, 2016

How to help refugees in your area... even if you don't know any!

I was recently challenged to help refugees in my area however I could by the #IWasAStranger project.  I struggled with this because I don't know of any refugees, and I don't even think any live in my neighborhood.  I have 2 young kids with one on the way, which is causing me to be on semi-bed rest.  So, I'm not 100% sure how volunteering my time would work at the moment.  So, I kept thinking and even prayed about it.

Refugees come to our country with just the clothing on their back.  I can't imagine doing that!  It would be scary enough going to a new country with a new language and no friends, but to add that I don't have any personal belongings or money to help me, it's just unthinkable for me!

Because I know this challenge has been given to such a large group of women in my church, I thought I would post some ideas here to hopefully help others think of a way they can help, too!

Women's Welcome Bags
Have a girls' night out and ask everyone to bring a gently used purse and some toiletries to fill it with.  You could also add some fun "girly" things, like lotion and chocolate.

Children's Welcome Bags
With your children, gather a few things to put in pillow cases for the kids that have just arrived.  You can add a stuffed animal, books, coloring books, crayons, etc.  You can sew a simple pillow case, or buy an inexpensive one from Wal-Mart or the dollar store.
*I know that many refugees come not knowing the local language, but I am sure they would still love a book!
*Also, check to see if your location can accept gently used stuffed animals or if they have to be brand new.

School Supplies 
A large percentage of refugees are children, so they will need school supplies.  Although they will need them the most at the beginning of the school year, they probably need them throughout the year, for those coming in the middle of the school year.  Some helpful items might be backpacks, pencils, notebooks, pens, three ring binders, folders and calculators.
*It's easy to focus on the elementary aged kids, but we can't forget about the middle school & high school kids, too!

Clothing Drive
Ask your children, friends and neighbors to each pick out one outfit that they don't use anymore.  Collect them and take them to your local refugee center.  Easy peasy!
If you're feeling like making it extra fun, throw a pajama party & ask people to bring an extra pair of PJs to donate!
*Just be aware that some refugee centers might not accept shorts or short sleeved shirts.
*One big need is for NEW women's dresses so they can use them for job interviews.  Some refugees have religious preferences where they wear long sleeved and long dresses, but not all.

Throw a Baby Shower
Throw a baby shower where all of the gifts are donated to your local refugee center.  70% of refugees are women and children, so chances are that they might have some pregnant women or infants currently or in the near future.

Use your talents
If you love photography, volunteer to take pictures for a family.  If you love sewing, make a blanket for them.  If you love web design, volunteer to help the refugee center update their website.  The possibilities are endless!

Busy Books
Pennies of Time has compiled hundreds of busy books for kids in the hospital, but I think they would work really well in this case, too!  These are easy and inexpensive to make.  They can be made with one child, or with a large group!

Yard Sale
Hold a yard sale & donate the money made to a non-profit who helps refugees.  If you want to add a little something, you could even sell lemonade, cookies, juice &/or donuts!

Be a pen-pal
You &/or your children can be connected with a refugee through a local refugee center.  You can send them drawings from your children, you can write them cards or letters.  This will not only help them learn their English, but it will help them to know that someone cares about them!

Volunteer your time
Not all volunteer opportunities have to be long-term commitments.  For example, your family or youth group could set up a time to go play soccer with your local refugee center.

Think twice before throwing it away!
Instead of selling items on Craigslist, or even throwing them out, donate them to your local refugee center.  They need basically everything from clothing, to personal hygiene items, to cleaning supplies, to home appliances, so if your old washing machine still works, chances are, they would appreciate it!

Car Seat Drive
Car seats can be expensive, but they (all sizes) are very needed for the refugees!  After all, if it were your children, you'd want them to travel safely, too, right?  You can hold a drive where you collect new ones, have a bake sale where you earn money to buy some, or anything else you can think of!

*All of these material things can help a refugee, but remember, there are other aspects to serving and loving others.  I challenge you to be a friend to everyone, because you don't know what they have been through!  Sharing your love with someone can make a life long impact on anyone.

How do I find a local refugee center?
For me, it was simple.  I just googled "Utah Refugee" and a few popped up.  I looked at their websites and called the number listed to see if my idea would be okay for their current needs.

I promise you, that even a small donation will help someone and maybe even make a world of difference!  

*Please be sure to call your local refugee center/non-profit first to ensure the project you want to do is something that they can use at that time.  

For even more ideas, you can download the new, free app called 'Serve Refugees'!  Available for Apple and Android phones.

What other ideas, do you have?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Family games that encourage gratitude

If you're looking to help your kids feel more thankful, look no further!  You can encourage gratitude by playing these simple, yet fun games!

Thankful BINGO
List several things or people your family is grateful for, each on a small strip of paper.  Have each person fill out the blank BINGO card below with the above items/people in whatever order they want.  Draw the names out of a basket and see who gets a BINGO first!  

Thankful Charades
Have each person write what they are grateful for on a piece of paper.  Put them all into a bowl, then each person draws one and acts it out.  

Thankful Dice Game
just print out the printable below, then fold, glue and play!  Each child takes a turn rolling it, then they have to answer the question that lands face up.  

Grateful Photo Scavenger Hunt
Give everyone a digital camera/phone.  Give them 5 minutes to take pictures of as many things as they can that they are grateful for.  Gather back together, then print them all off.  Guess who took what pictures.  Then make a simple scrapbook out of the pictures.  

Thankful Cootie Catcher
I loved cootie catchers/fortune tellers as a kid!  With this simple game, you can get your kids talking about things they are grateful for!  Simply print the image below, trim it to a square, then follow this tutorial for how to fold and play it!  

I hope you have fun together as a family while playing these games this Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

7 ways to remember the GIVING part of Thanksgiving

I love that we are extra thankful around this time of year, but sometimes we forget the "giving" part of Thanksgiving! Here are some ways we can give back to those who we are grateful for:

Neighborhood Thanksgiving Turkey
Did you get "boo-ed" around Halloween?  This is the same idea, only for Thanksgiving!  You can read all about it here at Over the Big Moon.

Adopt a Neighbor
As a family, pick a neighbor who you are especially grateful for this year. Secretly make it your family project for the month to do nice things for this neighbor. You can visit them, you can leave small goodies or gifts on their porch, write notes to them about how you are grateful for them, or you can bring in their garbage cans that week. Just try not to get caught!

100 Thank You's Challenge
I love this idea that Devany from Still Playing School posted on Tips from a Typical Mom!  It's so simple, it could work as a family or as individual kids.  Basically you just have your child set a goal for how many times they want to say thank you this month, then you keep track of it.  It's fun because your child can set a high number and still do it... and yet, they will still be impressed that they did it so much!

Grateful Paper Chain
Make a paper chain. Put a name of someone you are grateful for on each paper. Then each day, pick a name off of that chain. Do something nice for that person that day. It can be something as simple as calling them to say you appreciate them, putting a card in the mail for them or even baking a treat for them.

Host a Fall Harvest Potluck
My cute friend Wendy from Bed Head Mom did this and I love it!  Just host a potluck and invite all of the people in your life that you are extra thankful for that year.  It's an easy and fun way to say thank you!

Kindness Thankful Tree
We have all probably seen the thankful trees all over Pinterest. They are awesome! But if you want to take it to the next level and do an act of kindness with it. You can put one on every bedroom door in your home. Throughout the month, anyone can add a grateful leaf to that door, to show why they are thankful for that person.

You can also do this for a neighbor, only as a one time thing, instead of something throughout the month.  Just put a tree (or a turkey) on their door, with reasons why you are grateful for them on the leaves (or feathers).

Thank You Cards
If you know me, you know I am a sucker for thank you cards!  They are so easy but yet make such an impact on someone's day.  Make it a goal to send out 5 thank you cards this month with your kids.  It will be fun to see who they want to thank and how they decide to decorate the cards.

Whatever you do, be sure to reinforce your kid's act of kindness. One awesome way my friend Kim is doing that with her son is by putting up a hand print for each person he helps that month. This way he can see better what an impact he has on the community!

For more ideas on how to serve with your kids, sign up for the Mommy & Me Monthly Service Challenge below!  

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

3 fun ways to use your pumpkins to show your gratitude

Do you still have pumpkins from Halloween?  If so, don't throw them away!!

I love that November gives us some extra motivation to be more grateful!   It's extra fun to display our gratitude around our home!

Here are three fun ways to display your gratitude with your leftover pumpkins!
(Picture to come!  My cute daughter destroyed that pumpkin, so I am in the process of getting a new one!)

Have your children draw pictures of what they are grateful for.  If you're like me, then you can't get enough of young children's drawings!  I just adore them, so why not add them to your "grateful decor" for the month of November?

Just simply add a leaf tag to the stem of the pumpkin.  You can write one or five things you are grateful for.  Leave it out so you can see it often!

As a family, write what you are thankful for around the pumpkin.  It's especially fun to do once a week or every night.  You might just be impressed with what your children say they are thankful for!

All of these would work well on your porch, in your home or even on your Thanksgiving tablescape!

PS: Sharpies work okay for these projects, but if you want it to look darker and last longer, use a paint marker!

If you liked this, you might like Simple (& Creative) Ways to Help Your Child Say Thank You

Christmas for a Deserving Utah Family

For the past two years, I have worked with some wonderful people, including local bloggers to help 3 local, deserving families get a beautiful Christmas!  It has been a really neat experience and I am excited to do it again this year!

This year I am teaming up with *5 other local bloggers, but we need your help!

First of all, we are in need of nominations of a deserving family!  We are looking for a family with children who lives within 25 miles of Salt Lake City, who could use some help this holiday season.

We are accepting nominations for a family that fits this criteria until Sunday, November 15th.  

All the information given will be kept confidential and will only be used if the family is chosen, so we can contact them to get the necessary information.

You can nominate a family here or at the bottom of this post.

If you want updates on what our 'deserving Utah family' will need via Email once the family is decided, email me at with the subject "Christmas Updates" so I don't overlook you!  OR you can join this Facebook page to stay updated, too!  

Lastly, you can donate physical items, gift cards or money via PayPal.  Just email me for the details.

*Special thanks to all of the bloggers teaming up with me!  
Jessie @ Utah Mom Connection
Kim @ Utah Valley Moms
Jennifer @ My Daylights
Wendy @ bedheadmom
Joanie @ Coupons 4 Utah

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Serve others in memory of 9/11

For those of us who remember 9/11, it will forever be engraved in our minds.  We saw images that we will never forget.  Out hearts were more than touched, they were changed.  We saw our whole country come together to make something tragic turn into something special.  People were kind and compassionate.

I love that hard trials can be turned into something beautiful, if we let it.

Our children probably don't really understand what happened on that day, and that's okay.  But it's still a great opportunity to teach them that it's a special day and that we can help others who helped us on that day in 2001.

Here are some simple ideas to get you started!

Mail a postcard
Postcards are such an easy way to spread kindness!  You can even make your own by simply cutting some card stock 4" x 6", let your child color a picture, then write a simple note on the other side.  You can send a postcard to those who are deployed, the families of a military member, veterans, etc.  Here is a website with information about sending letters to military personnel.

Say Thank You
Saying thank you is something so simple, but can make a big impact on someone's life.  Besides the typical people we think of helping on 9/11 (firefighters, police, etc.), don't forget to thank EMTs, doctors, nurses, flight attendants, etc.  There were so many people who contributed to helping on that day and on the days and months that followed.

Bake a treat
Take cookies to your local police department or fire department, no doubt they will be grateful!

Donate Money is asking for people to donate $9.11 to support education programs and charitable services in honor of those lost.

There were countless volunteers who helped that day.  Some who helped pick up the debris and some who went unnoticed.  You can volunteer (even a short amount of time), to help with any cause or organization you are passionate about!  Even something as simple as offering to volunteer in your child's classroom would count!

Send a package
Military personnel are often deployed with very little contact with their family members.  That would be really hard!  By sending a simple package, it will make any military member's day!
Here's a website with more information about what and where to send packages.

Donate blood
There were many people who were hospitalized because of the attacks on 9/11.  I'm sure some of them needed blood.  In memory of that day, you can donate blood to the Red Cross.

There are also several events around the country that you can participate in!

Family Day of Service  
If you live in Utah, there is a fun event that will have several tables set up, each with their own act of kindness.  It will be a fun and easy way to get your kids involved in service!

See the flier below (click to enlarge) or this facebook event page for more details.

Operation Shower
Operation Shower is an awesome non-profit organization that throws baby showers for those who are expecting and have a loved one deployed.  Such an awesome idea!
In Utah, there is a local Operation Baby Shower event where you can come and donate a gift that will be sent to those military spouses who are expecting.
Or, you can throw your own Operation Baby Shower!  Throw a baby shower just as if the mom-to-be is there, then donate the gifts to Operation Shower.

Family Day at Captain Hope's Kids
If you live near Dallas, TX, you have to check out this event!

Captain Hope's Kids and Pennies of Time have teamed up to bring you a fun Family Day!  For the full details, click here.

Dine Out for 9/11 Tribute 
If you live in NYC, check out these awesome restaurants who are teaming up to raise awareness and funds for 9/11 educational programs.

Compassion Games
No matter where you are, you should check out the Compassion Games!  It's a fun way to get your family motivated on this day, the National Day of Service and Remembrance!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Uplift Families Parenting Conference - A Utah Event

I've asked before on my Facebook page if being a spouse is harder or if being a parent was harder.  95% of the answers said being a parent was harder.  I completely agree!

Being a Parent today is filled with challenges! If you’re looking for common sense solutions, come to the 2015 Uplift Families Parenting Conference, hosted by First Lady of Utah, Jeanette Herbert, held Saturday, September 19th at 5:30 pm at the Thanksgiving Point Show Barn.

This year’s presenters include: Matt Townsend, Brad Barton, Carmen Rasmusen Herbert, Clay Olsen and Lucy Delgadillo. We’ll also have a special performance by Joshua Creek!

You’ll be inspired, educated and entertained by well-known speakers and experts on the family. Enjoy dinner, dessert, music, exhibits and prizes! Make it a date night or come with friends!

I am so excited to be partnering with Uplift Families!  Uplift Families is a non-profit organization started by Utah's First Lady, Jeanette Herbert.  I believe that the old fashioned family values are so important, but that it is continually getting harder and harder to have those values in our home.  That was one of the main reasons why I started this blog.  I wanted to help others instill those values in homes by sharing fun and easy ways to serve together as a family.

Uplift Families is a great website with hundreds (if not thousands) of resources for parents to help with anything from Autism to Suicide to Education.  I highly recommend it to any parent, and no doubt the conference will be amazing, too!  

Tickets are $25.00 per couple or $15.00 for an individual. Seating is limited.

To receive $5 off your order, use promo code Trust2015!

To buy tickets or get additional information, go to
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