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Engaging Ways to Give Back This Christmas

Posted in Family, Giving, Holiday by
Beware: I’m about to get up on my soapbox and start singing “Where Are You, Christmas?” like Cindy Lou Who so masterfully does in How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
cindylouwho
Really though— it’s easy to be bombarded by commercials, crazy sales, and wishlists at this time of the year. Let’s try to revive the reason for the season, the birth of a Holy prophet that  is a luminary of generosity and compassion. You don’t have to be religious or spiritual to appreciate the opportune time of this festive season to give back to your community.

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Hi Y’all! My name is Zahra and I’m a 19 year old college student passionate about growing spiritually, learning endlessly, and living healthfully. I love to express my deepest sentiments and ponderings through writing. I thank you for reading my words; I hope they nourish your soul!

December 8, 2017
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Easy DIY Advent Calendar

Posted in DIY, Family, Giving, Holiday by
     This easy DIY calendar is a craft that can be engaging for many; it is affordable, quick, and fun! Even the most craft-challenged newbies (me included) can have a great time making this and enjoying it throughout the month.
      Traditionally, Advent calendars have functioned as a fun way to countdown to Christmas while getting to enjoy daily yummy chocolates throughout the month of December.  Despite the family quibbles that might start over how the treats are apportioned, this holiday tradition is something everyone in the family can look forward to.  The treats you uncover don’t have to be limited to chocolates or candies. Another way to enjoy this holiday tradition is by making an advent calendar filled with different kinds of daily goodies.
Materials:
  • Tri-Fold Poster Board ($5.50)
  • Mini Craft Sacks- 25 ct. ($2.99)
  • Clothespins (varies)
  • Mixed Media Jute Rope ($3.00)
  • Some kind of paint/markers for decorating (varies)
  • Festive wrapping paper (varies)
  • Goodies to fill the pockets with:
    • Makeup samples
    • Candies
    • Variations of different tea bags/coffee packets
    • Gift cards
    • Positive affirmation cards/notes
    • Small Accessories
      • Bracelets
      • Headbands
      • Bows
    • Office Supplies
      • Erasers
      • Bookmarks
      • Magnets
Process:
1) I painted the entirety of the board with white paint before beginning any designs. This covered up any of the black print that is on the board.
2) Start by decorating the opening flaps of the board. I painted a wreath centered on the “door” which would be opened to reveal the calendar.
front of advent calendar
3) Measure out some festive wrapping paper to cover the entirety of the center board.
cover the board in wrapping paper
4) Paint whatever you desire on the inside of the two flaps! I chose a candy cane print because it went nicely with the color wrapping paper I chose and it is relatively easy to replicate!
candy cane print paint
5) Measure 5 equal pieces of jute rope/twine to cover the width of the board (for 5 mini craft sacks to hang upon each).
mixed media jute ropemini craft sacks
6) Secure the twine underneath the poster board with a hot glue gun, make sure it is secure enough to hold up.
7) Attach the clothespins to the twine, and the pockets to the clothespins so that they hang off of the twine.
clothespins with pockets
8) Insert the treats into each of the 25 pockets!
     Wal-lah! You’re done with this quick and easy DIY advent calendar.  My grandma loved this gift and is super excited to have a surprise waiting for her every day of December leading up to Christmas.
     I hope you guys try this DIY advent calendar out and let me know how it goes!

Hi Y’all! My name is Zahra and I’m a 19 year old college student passionate about growing spiritually, learning endlessly, and living healthfully. I love to express my deepest sentiments and ponderings through writing. I thank you for reading my words; I hope they nourish your soul!

November 27, 2017
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Thanksgiving Gratitude Activities for Families

Giving thanks around an oblong dinner table cluttered with turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and rolls can be tricky when you’re hosting or attending a large gathering with many, many people with hungry, hungry bellies.

While our physical hunger is not unsubstantiated, all souls have a deep hunger that can only be filled by faith, hope, and gratitude.

To emphasize the backbone of the holiday which is sometimes lost in the chaos of the moment, here are some fun and humbling family friendly activities that will emphasize the value of gratitude this Thanksgiving.

1) If you are hosting thanksgiving dinner, you can respectfully ask your guests that they not bring any gifts and instead maybe bring some cans of food that can be donated to a local food shelter, or some blankets that your family can distribute to the homeless in preparation for the cold winter.

2) Create or purchase a little “Thanksgiving Guest Book” in which guests can anonymously write one thing they are grateful for. This list can be shared with everyone at the gathering later to emphasize the abundance of things to be thankful for. Alternatively, you can make a “Guest Pumpkin” where you get a fake pumpkin, paint it a solid and opaque color, and leave out sharpies so that every guest can write out something they are grateful for on the pumpkin. It’s a great decorative piece that you can put out each year! Here’s an example that was actually used for a wedding guest book:
http://somethingturquoise.com/2014/10/31/diy-faux-pumpkin-guest-book/

3) Gratitude Pumpkins are a really fun craft for kids and they require little more than construction paper, scissors, markers, and glue. Here’s a printable template for these pumpkins from www.faithfullittlehands.com: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/Ad6tBLmxyEOc3cpvnXT6yt1LrLNTMZfLpa93WMYYS4ye6565VMgFJLI/

4) Having a Gratitude Scavenger Hunt is a great activity for both kids and adults that teaches us to be more mindful and present. This one from www.thislittlehomeofmine.com is super kid-friendly and fun: http://thislittlehomeofmine.com/thanksgiving-day-activities/

5) If you are free Thanksgiving Day morning, afternoon, checkout any Thanksgiving Feasts
being thrown by a nonprofit or NGO in your city for low income and homeless families/individuals.
My family and I do this every year and it is an amazing and humbling experience. Below is a list of such events in major cities. It’s a wonderful tradition that we look forward to every year and allows us to bond as a family. Also there are tons of events held in the weeks preceding Thanksgiving that your family can volunteer at as well. If your city isn’t shown here, just do a google search for it and hopefully you will stumble upon it!

Here are some search engines that are specifically for volunteering:
http://www.handsontriangle.org/
https://www.volunteermatch.org/
https://www.givepulse.com/

Contact your local or state food bank as well to inquire about any Thanksgiving volunteer opportunities!

West

-Newark, CA: https://www.volunteermatch.org/search/opp2780219.jsp
-Los Angeles, CA: https://www.volunteermatch.org/search/opp2820099.jsp
-Santa Barbara, CA: https://www.volunteermatch.org/search/opp2824439.jsp
-Berkelely, CA: https://www.volunteermatch.org/search/opp2803553.jsp
-San Fransisco, CA: https://www.volunteermatch.org/search/opp2826102.jsp
-Boulder, CO : https://www.volunteermatch.org/search/opp2818696.jsp
-Salt Lake City, UT : https://www.volunteermatch.org/search/opp2807712.jsp
-Denver, CO : https://www.eventbrite.com/e/refugee-first-thanksgiving-2017-tickets-38666717192?aff=es2



Southwest

-Houston,TX : http://citywideclub.com/donate.php https://www.eventbrite.com/e/feed-my-sheep-houston-2017-volunteer-registration-37226214610?aff=es2
-Dallas,TX : https://www.eventbrite.com/e/a-homeless-thanksgiving-tickets-39510922232?aff=es2
-Baton Rouge, LA : https://www.eventbrite.com/e/feed-the-streets-tickets-39742977315?aff=es2
-Tulsa, OK : https://www.volunteermatch.org/search/opp2515052.jsp
-Austin, TX :http://www.givingcityaustin.com/volunteering/givingcitys-2017-list-of-thanksgiving-volunteering-opportunities/
-Pheonix, AZ :https://www.volunteermatch.org/search/opp2822831.jsp

Midwest

-Chicago, IL : https://www.volunteermatch.org/search/opp2814560.jsp
-Cleveland, OH : https://www.eventbrite.com/e/hashtaglunchbag-cleveland-thanksgiving-edition-tickets-29331177341?aff=es2
-Columbus, OH : https://www.eventbrite.com/e/cgb-and-homeless-families-foundation-holiday-food-box-111917-tickets-39287236181
-Detroit, MI : https://www.eventbrite.com/e/giving-back-on-thanksgiving-2017-tickets-39503714674?aff=es2
-St. Louis, MO : https://www.eventbrite.com/e/ulyp-stl-thanksgiving-bag-stuffing-tickets-39382601421?aff=es2
-Iowa City, IA : https://www.eventbrite.com/e/elder-services-home-for-the-holidays-tickets-38874961055?aff=es2

Northeast/Mid-Atlantic

-Brooklyn and Manhattan, NY : https://www.volunteermatch.org/search/opp2811253.jsp
-Bronx, NY : https://www.volunteermatch.org/search/opp2822543.jsp
-Pittsburgh, PA : https://www.eventbrite.com/e/thanksgiving-meal-tickets-36901422147?aff=es2
-Boston, MA : https://www.eventbrite.com/e/new-york-urban-league-young-professionals-fall-17-community-service-tickets-39229846527?aff=es2
-Portland, ME : https://www.eventbrite.com/e/thanksgiving-day-meal-volunteer-shifts-tickets-38598312592?aff=es2
-Baltimore, MD : https://www.eventbrite.com/e/serve-thanksgiving-dinner-with-cityfam-registration-38777938859?aff=es2

Southeast

-Black Mt., North Carolina: https://www.volunteermatch.org/search/opp2821727.jsp
-Charlotte, North Carolina: https://www.volunteermatch.org/search/opp2808512.jsp
-Charleston, South Carolina: http://charlestonbasketbrigade.com/volunteer-your-time/
-Greenville, South Carolina: http://www.harvesthope.org/volunteer
-Columbia, South Carolina: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/community-thanksgiving-dinner-tickets-38627902095?aff=es2
-Tampa, FL : https://www.volunteermatch.org/search/opp2811432.jsp
-Atlanta, GA : https://www.eventbrite.com/e/ggb-presentsthe-4th-annual-gift-of-thanksgiving-feast-for-the-homeless-tickets-24655642691?aff=es2

Hope you all enjoy a wonderful thanksgiving surrounded by the ones you love!
xx

Hi Y’all! My name is Zahra and I’m a 19 year old college student passionate about growing spiritually, learning endlessly, and living healthfully. I love to express my deepest sentiments and ponderings through writing. I thank you for reading my words; I hope they nourish your soul!

November 14, 2017
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