As The Birthday Project continues to grow and reach across the globe, we are in need of some benevolent souls willing to share their time and talents with us. Currently, we are looking to update the look of our website. It is a basic template style site, created using Weebly. If you are interested in helping, please use the form below to contact us. Including any/all related website design experience is helpful. PLEASE NOTE THIS IS AN UNPAID POSITION (so you're agreeing to help out of the goodness of your heart and accept gestures of appreciation that may include but are not limited to social media shout outs, The Birthday Project merchandise and undying gratitude).
Bad things happen. Regardless of the number birthdays, holidays, kind acts and feel-good stories of giving, bad things still happen. And in well-connected, media driven society, we hear about the bad stuff a lot more than we do the good.
The thing about this world is that I believe it has made a great deal of us cynical, skeptical and even fearful. I remember (as a little girl) when hitchhiking was not only legal, it was a way of life for some. If someone needed a ride, you stopped and picked them up. Maybe they'd spot you a few bucks for gas, maybe it was just your good deed for they day. Enough reports of lunatics on the side of the road with a shiv and meth pumping through their veins and we lock our cars doors as soon as we get in, never so much as making eye contact with the guy standing on the street corner now.
I recognize the need for safety and taking wise precautions. We certainly need to be aware of our surroundings and listen to that little voice that lets us know when things feel unsafe. However, (call me crazy) but we CAN NOT let a few (and I mean a very small few) number of disturbed individuals steer us off course. What I mean is after you've seen a hundred news reports and read 75 articles about the same horrific event, you can't just decide that this is a terrible world filled with people you can't trust. We can't run into our homes, pull down the shades, lock all the doors and resign to solely order movies on Netflix. In fact, I absolutely believe with every ounce of my being that we should do the complete opposite.
The mission behind The Birthday Project is to shake people out of their busy, daily lives and remind them to look around and to see how many ways they can make a difference. Yes, it starts with your birthday but I've yet to meet a single person who hasn't been affected the other 364 days of the year. We slow down a little, we look people in the eyes, we smile at strangers, we chat with people we don't know, we offer the gift of ourselves and we restore faith in our fellow man and woman. Instead of feeling helpless about the things that sadden us in this world, we find ways to help, to lend a hand, to offer a hug or a sympathetic ear and make it a better place.
Tragedy, pain, sorrow...those are all opportunities for triumph, healing and joy. Reports of crisis are just doors of opportunity. This world is not going to hell in a hand basket because we aren't going to let that happen. You either decide that's a completely unrealistic, pie-in-the-sky mentality or you agree and do something to make sure it happens. Whether you live in a major metropolis or a tiny country town. Whether you are financially secure or pinching pennies. Whether you are retired or in elementary school. We each do what we can...maybe even more than we think we can...to remind ourselves and each other that the bad guys don't get to win.
If you are interested in helping in the aftermath of the Aurora, CO theater shooting tragedy, here are a few ideas:
Send cards with notes of encouragement, gift cards, children's artwork, flowers, or any other form of support for victims and/or appreciation for first responders & medical personnel to:
I will post more ideas as opportunities become available. Until then feel free to add your own in the comment section. Remember, there is nothing "random" about kindness. BE INTENTIONAL.
People often ask me for free or inexpensive ways to show kindness to others. Several of the things I shared from the original 38 I featured on my blog were free (or close to it). Here are twenty more:
-Open doors for others
-Return shopping carts for people
-Volunteer at the local food pantry, school, library, etc.
-Thank someone for t...heir hard work
-Write notes of appreciation to anyone who's made a difference
-Look for ways to serve people in your family
-Bring in the neighbor's garbage can/recycling bins
-Help a coworker meet a deadline
-Offer to watch a young mother's child for a few hours
-Take a friend/neighbor's dog for a walk (and give him a nice brushing afterward!)
-Mow/rake/sweep for an unsuspecting neighbor
-Spend an hour picking up trash at a local park, beach or roadway
-Go through your clothes and donate items to a local shelter
-Spend an hour at the local nursing home assisting with crafts or reading to residents.
-Adopt a soldier as a penpal
-Give someone a compliment
-Leave a positive comment on a blog
-Let someone in line go ahead of you
-Ask all your friends & family members to do something nice for one other person in honor of your birthday and to use the money they would have spent on a gift/card for you toward an act of kindness instead!
Do you have any others that aren't listed here? Leave a comment and share your ideas!
Something about the Holiday Season makes us want to do something for others. Probably because most of us recognize how truly blessed we really are and want to bless someone else. Sometimes it's because we get into a "funk" and need to get out of our own situation for a while so we can be reminded how much worse it COULD be. Whatever the reason, you can usually find plenty of opportunities to lend a hand, help a stranger and offer assistance during this time of year.
I've been asked how to get children actively involved in giving back during the holidays. Despite the fact that they don't have the financial means to purchase items to donate, kids can definitely do more than just ride along in the car as you deliver your good deed. Here's an idea for something fun, easy and impactful to do with your children during the November holiday we Americans love; Thanksgiving:
Take the following list (and your kids) to the grocery store. You can talk about Thanksgiving, what kinds of things we eat and do on that day and discuss how many people don't have the means to buy the food for such a feast. Depending on their age, speak frankly with your children about how difficult this time of year is for many people. I'm always pleasantly surprised by children's natural compassion and desire to help when they hear of people in tough situations. When you get to the store, if your children are old enough, give THEM the list and a shopping cart and let them do the shopping. If not, you read the list and have your little ones select the items with you. (By the way, I found all these items at the Dollar Store but you might actually find them for even less than $1/each at Walmart. Wherever you decide to purchase them, keep it simple...don't make it a chore by traveling all around town. At the very most it should cost you no more than $30.) Have the kiddos put all the items in the aluminum pan or in a couple of paper grocery bags.
2 cans of green beans
1 can of sweet potatoes
2 cans of corn
1 can of cranberry sauce
1 box of stovetop stuffing
1 box of instant mashed potatoes
2 cans of gravy or 2 packets of gravy mix
1 aluminum oval turkey roasting pan
1 package of muffin or cornbread mix (just add water)
1 box of cake mix or brownie mix (or similar dessert)
1 jar of instant iced tea or jug of pre-made iced tea
1 $15.00 gift card to local grocery store for a turkey
NOW COMES THE FUN PART: Deliver the goods. There are lots of ways to do this. You can ask around for a family who might need a little help this season. Make a call to a church, your local food pantry, the schools in your area, the police/fire department. SOMEONE will know of SOMEONE who could really use a Thanksgiving meal. OR you could get really brave and drive around in your town and just pick a house! Yes, I am totally serious. You might decide to go to an impoverished area of your town, but remember thar there are many, MANY people who could use a friendly gesture from a kind stranger, despite what their living arrangements might suggest. We can't always tell from the outside of a house what's going on in someone's life.
Take your kids with you. Have them help decide who to bless. Don't be scared or worried in unfamiliar surroundings. You come bearing gifts, expecting nothing in return. Leave the bag with a kind note as a surprise on someone's doorstep or get really brave and knock on the door! Smile. Shake a hand. Hug. Wish someone a Happy Thanksgiving. Talk about it with your kids on the way home. And then again on Thanksgiving day. It will warm your heart to know you've giving someone the gift of being able to prepare a meal in their own home. Thankfulness all around.
Teens (and preteens) are an interesting lot. I have one and I WAS one. You never know which child you'll get at any given moment of any given day. I personally have come to find that the early teen years are strikingly similar to the toddler years in many ways, but that gives me hope because I know that this too shall pass. :)
One characteristic of the middle school set (at the least the girl side of it) is the propensity toward selfishness. There is a lot of thinking about THEMSELVES; what they're going to wear, what their hair looks like, what someone else's hair looks like compared to their hair, who their friends are, who likes them, who they like...I'm pretty sure it's "normal" and I'm PRETTY SURE they grow out of it. That said, when a "normal" American girl wants to spend her 13th birthday planning & performing random acts of kindness with a group of her friends and then they all actually have FUN doing it, it's pretty heartwarming.
The girls had a sleepover and then spent the morning planning out their day of giving. The Birthday Girl had already asked guests to bring at least one of the following: blank note cards & envelopes, a roll of quarters, gently used blankets, jackets & shoes, canned food and $5-$10 each so they were already armed with a few ideas. They decided to write notes to leave wherever their adventures took them...over 65 notes of kindness and encouragement when they were finished.
Once the adventure began, the girls really got into it. They started really paying attention to people...cashiers on a smoke break, the custodian at the shopping center, parents with crying babies, children on the playground. Here is the list of 13 things these girls did in honor of their friend's 13th birthday:
Today I have the awesome opportunity to talk about The Birthday Project on Martha Stewart Radio (sirius/xm channel 110). Fifteen minutes to tell everyone about how we are trying to literally change the world, one birthday at a time. Thinking about the people who will be on their way to/from lunch, listening in their cars...I am also attempting to record it so my children can hear it when they get home from school. It's not every day I get the opportunity to have such a large audience, but I am believing there are more of these opportunities ahead!
You can tune in today at 12pm CST/1pm EST if you'd like to hear, too!
I've been blogging for several years and have even spoken to large groups of business people about the importance of blogging. Today, however, I find myself at a complete loss for how to start a blog for The Birthday Project. If you could open up my heart and actually see inside, to the part that holds the dreams, passion and deepest purpose of ourselves, you would find The Birthday Project. Giving of ourselves as a means of celebrating big things like birthdays, anniversaries, holidays....taking the focus off the what we don't like; aging, materialism, missing those we wish were with us to celebrate, overspending on things that don't matter, emptiness and replacing it with what fulfills us; making people smile, surprises, being witness to real joy, making eye contact with perfect strangers, slowing down, kindness, transparency, goodness, love.
The Birthday Project is about more than performing random acts of kindness to coordinate with how many years old you are. It's about recognizing that we are all here for a reason that is bigger than ourselves. The Birthday Project is the vehicle that will change personal priorities, family traditions, and cultural celebrations for generations to come. It's about remembering, in the midst of all our busyness, that the day we were born matters. That WE matter and we are called to remind others that they do too.