This is so true. Giving and spreading kindness is one of the best parts of living, and until you do it, you will never fully grasp the meaning of that statement. It is true, you wake up and really live when you give without expectation.

Barrett and I have always been big on giving back when we can and helping others. We give locally a lot, but do support a few national & international charities as well... and not only for charities, but just for people in general. We're those people who buy the extra sandwich to give to the guy on the street. And we do it because we can and because we should. I think about gratitude - I have things right now, but maybe one day I won't and I would be looking to the help and charity of others. That is why we give. Everyone needs a helping hand. And, just because it is the right thing to do. We do it whenever we can - even if it is something small.

We do this often and we do it without expectations. We also do it without looking for praise or pats on the back for giving. We do a lot, and we don't talk about it. I don't often share what we do for that reason - I'm not looking for the praise or for someone to say "wow, how thoughtful of you!". Sometimes I share these things on Instagram with a picture or two, mainly because I am a picture junkie and IG is my digital scrapbook. Sometimes I hope it inspires others to do the same. Like when we made care packages for the Wounded Warrior Project... I posted pictures and hoped that it would inspire someone else to do the same.

What inspired me to write this post is that everywhere on my news feed I am seeing gratitude posts and posts about kindness and giving... so in keeping with that theme, I wanted to put this out there. I  am writing this because I hope someone, somewhere, will read this and think about not just saying how grateful they are, but will think about lending a hand where they can.

Gratitude is powerful when you let it really sink in. Let me share with you a incredibly moving moment for me...
About a year ago I was in line behind a woman who couldn't afford the $70 worth of prescriptions for her husband. She walked away and I paid for them along with my own, then had them page her back to the pharmacy. As I was leaving, the pharmacist told her what I did and she came to me in tears. She went on to tell me that a few nights ago they had lost their home to a fire - everything except the clothes on their backs (I remember reading about it in the news) and how she couldn't afford the medications because she had bought food first, and the insurance money had yet to come in and they had to pay for their hotel and clothing and basic necessities. I remember hugging her and wishing her the best. I don't know where she is now, or what happened to her and her family, but I still think about that moment often. As I type this, I have tears just thinking about it - I went home that day and thanked my lucky stars for all I had. It reminded me how fragile life is. Be thankful for all you have - life can change in a minute.
I like the feeling of giving. I like how it makes me feel inside. I do it often because it makes me feel good and it helps someone out. Sometimes it just makes another person smile - but maybe, that is exactly what they need at that moment. Your kindness could be the defining moment that changes someone path for the better.

I also do it and talk about it around Madeline as often as I can. I want her to grow up with a thankful and giving heart (which she does have!) and I want her to experience the joy in giving. She loves it. I'm also big about teaching kindness and giving to my middle school students. Working with at-risk youth, they have experienced a lot of hurt in their lives - I want them to see the good in their lives and to share with others to let them experience that feeling of giving. Every single kid has expressed how it made them feel good.

One giving tradition we have as a family is to buy an entire Thanksgiving meal and donate it to the local food drive specifically set up for Thanksgiving dinners. This is one of our favorite things to do every year. We make a big deal out of it and do a full shopping trip just for the food drive, which has fostered a love of giving for Madeline - she really truly enjoys it. We get a turkey and all the fixings, and add little extras. This is one of those things I always take pictures of, because it is a yearly tradition.
Turkey and the fixings! Brownies, scalloped potatoes, mac & cheese (cause sometimes, kids hate turkey), cranberry sauce, veggies, fruits, gravy, spices, pickles & olives (relish tray!), yams, stuffing, coffee, and hot cocoa.
Maddie handing over the turkey to Lori (from our local radio station)
Maddie on the radio station FB page donating the turkey.

So, my hope in sharing all this with you is that I inspired you to help. Someway, somehow. Donate food, buy a coat for a coat drive, make a care package for our soldiers, write a letter to a nurse, bring Thanksgiving dinner to those who work to keep our communities safe and don't get to have a day off, donate blood, round off that bill to donate to St Jude's.... whatever you can do to help others. Trust me - you are going to love the way you feel.

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow

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