As Thanksgiving approaches this week, many families will get caught up in the hubbub of the holiday with traveling, entertaining family, cooking, watching football games and shopping Black Friday sales. But with most schools being off for the week, what a better time for the family to remember all the reasons we should be thankful for then by giving back and serving others.
Here are 9 fun and rewarding activities you could do with your kids of all ages that show the act of being thankful. Even if you are traveling, some of these could be done on the road. These do not have to be in any order, you can choose what you think the family would enjoy and possibly plan out your week to do one each day.
- Show Appreciation to Local Fire & Police: Bake cookies for the local police and fire departments and drop them off at the stations. Have your kids write a note thanking them for their service to our community and keeping them safe.
- Pay it Forward: Whatever line you might be in, whether Starbucks, the grocery store, or fast food, pay for the person behind you. Encourage your kids to pay with their own money to help them understand and receive the true gratification of helping others.
- Encourage an Overseas Soldier: Send a letter and/or care package to a deployed military personnel. This is an opportunity to show them how much you appreciate their service and sacrifice for our country and to share God’s love. You can do this through Operation Gratitude: https://www.operationgratitude.com/express-your-thanks/write-letters/
- Bless Your Teachers: Have your kids make a gift for their teachers they can give them when they return to school. It could be as simple and fun as planting a succulent in a painted mason jar with a tag that says “Thanks for Helping Me Grow.”
- Volunteer: Donate a little bit of free time to a local food bank or even your church. Local churches usually have plenty of jobs that can be done like painting, yard work, or even folding bulletins.
- Help a Neighbor: Encourage your kids to help neighbors with some yard work like raking leaves or shoveling snow, especially for the elderly neighbors who physically can't do these things.
- Donate a Toy: Take your kids shopping and have them pick out a toy for a child less fortunate. Donate these Christmas toys to a local shelter or drop them off at a Toys for Tots location (https://www.toysfortots.org/donate/toys.aspx)
- Perform a Small Gesture: Leading by example is a great way to teach children. Open the door for someone at the store, help an elderly person with a heavy item, let someone go ahead of you in line, and say thank you for your service if you see a police, fire, or military personnel.
- Give Thanks at Thanksgiving: Before prayer, have everyone go around the table and talk about what they are thankful for, even the children. This is a great way to encourage family to think about all the blessings in their life.
We hope this list sparks some creativity for more thankful ideas you could do as a family and maybe even make a yearly tradition to do some of these activities during the holidays. Most importantly, we hope these acts of kindness encourage thankful hearts in you and your children. “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)
Read about a student's perspective of serving others from a past blog post: Student Perspective: 5 Things I Learned from Serving Others