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Monday, November 11, 2013

Giving With Grace: 12 Ways Your Child & You Can Give Back All Year Through

© 2013 Catherine L Pittman

All children are born with compassion.  We tutor our children to talk and help them learn to walk.  We also need to provide them opportunities to give with grace. 

Giving with grace is the ultimate gift of love and compassion.  It cannot be bargained for and has no hidden motives.   Grace lies at the heart of every true gift, embracing warmth, compassion and love to the one who gives and the one who receives.  
Many believe that the need for giving to those in need is greater during the holidays.  While the holiday season heightens both the need and desire to give, it is important to give with grace year round.  The spirit of Christmas should bless your child’s life all year through, and it is important to involve your child in where and what they wish to give. It doesn’t have to be complicated to give.  Here are twelve ways you and your child can give with grace all throughout the year.

1.     Create a School Giving Box
Take your child to your local Dollar Store and allow her to select school supplies for children in need.  Many local schools and shelters take school supply donations for low-income families in the area.  Portland, Oregon’s Schoolhouse Supplies offers a free store and takes regular donations from local families and businesses.

2.     Help Thy Neighbor All Year Through
Raking leaves for an elderly neighbor, baking homemade bread or cookies to send to our servicemen and women or delivery to a homeless shelter. Making homemade soup for an ill neighbor or friend.  Bake treats and take them to a senior home. These are easy gifts for our neighbors.

3.     Snuggle Blankets
What toddler do you know who isn’t attached to that special “blankie” that offers security , warmth and love?  It is something that many underprivileged kids just don’t have.  Place the gift of warmth with a homemade or purchase a soft blanket in the arms of needy children.  Project Linus provides easy to make no-sew blanket kits.

4.     Breaking Bread With Others
Arranging a food drive, serving at a homeless shelter or building food baskets for needy families is looked-for year round.  Involve your child in selecting canned foods, fruit and other treats for the basket.  During the holidays, decorate the gift package.  Your church or school can help find families in need.

5.     Bank the Change and Make a Difference
Even our loose change can make a difference!  Creating a charity jar for the entire family to put their loose change in for donating to a charity.

6.     Animal Pampering
Local humane societies and animal shelters are always in need of volunteers and supplies.  Animals at the shelter need play time while waiting for their forever home.  Make and deliver kitty toys.  Buy kitty litter and kibble and let your child spend time with the animals receiving their gift.

7.     Donate Used Toys and Clothing
Your local Good Will and similar organizations are always looking for gently used toys, shoes, coats and clothing.  Have your child choose toys and clothing that they can pass on to these organizations.  Take him with you when you drop off the gifts.

8.     Make a Joyful Noise
Children love to sing.  Join other parents and put on a music concert at your local school auditorium or church, with the proceeds from ticket sales being donated to a local children’s charity.  During the holidays, go caroling at a local seniors home or children’s hospital.  Many seniors are delighted to have young guests, particularly if they have no grandkids of their own and nothing touches the heart more than to bring a little joyful noise and a teddy bear to a child in a hospital.

9.     Make a Bunch of Smiles
A handmade holiday or “just because” card with a gift of homemade cookies or bread can bring a smile to your child’s local champions, such as a teacher, local police officer, pediatrician, or school bus driver.  These local heroes are an important part of your child’s life!

10.  Clean-up Walk
Take a walk in your neighborhood or local playground, and pick-up the trash you see along the way.  This is a great family outing that provides a service to your community and exercise too!

11.  Throw a Charity Birthday Party
Birthday parties are a great time for giving to others.  When hosting your child’s birthday party, ask guests to bring a new or gently used book or toy to be donated to a local charity or shelter.

12.  Be a Christmas Angel
Most shopping malls have a “Christmas Angel Tree,” filled with tags that hold a child’s name, age, clothing size and special toy request.  Have your child choose a tag and shop for the needy child together.

It is a parent’s job to teach their child to give cheerfully and with grace. Each of us should “give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”[1]

[1] Corinthians 9:7

About the Author
Catherine currently resides in Tualatin, Oregon and is the owner, songwriter and main vocalist for her children's music production company, Pitter Patter Productions ( The company has specialized in original award-winning music for children from newborn through kindergarten since 1992. We’re living green!  Our music is available for download at: CD Baby (,, and iTunes (search Catherine Pittman). CD’s and music streams are available at  Download music now!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Festive Family Fun for the Fall

© 2012 Catherine L Pittman

Autumn is one of my favorite seasons.  While spring’s colors are fresh and give one the sense of renewal, autumn is crisp, bright and clean.   It is a vibrant season full of rich colors and fun activities to be shared by the entire family.  Heading out into nature or entertaining at Halloween provides no better way to enjoy the sights and smells and soak up the colors of the world.  Here is how you can enjoy fall with your family this year!

Visit a Pumpkin Patch
A visit to your local pumpkin patch is a great family outing.  Kids love running up and down the whole patch to find their own big, perfect pumpkin to take home and carve for Halloween. Many local pumpkin patches offer fun family extras, such as corn or pumpkin mazes, animal barns, hayrides and delicious fall refreshments of cider and apple treats.

Hayride Hoopla
One fall activity everyone should do at least once in their lifetime is to pack-up a thermos of warm apple cider, a picnic basket of sandwiches and apple pie, and head to the nearest farm offering fall hayrides. There is nothing like a fall picnic during a crisp sunny day.

Jumping Fun!
One of my fondest memories from childhood is raking up all the colorful, crunchy leaves into a gigantic pile, and then jumping in them.  I enjoyed smelling the crisp, clean air and hearing the crackle of the leaves.  It provided plenty of giggles and fun.  Make it even more fun by hiding a wrapped lollipop or Dollar Tree toy somewhere in the pile.

Make a Scarecrow
Stuff your own scarecrow for your Halloween porch. Take an old pair of daddy’s jeans and flannel shirt, cram them full of hay, and make a funny face on an old pillow case or pumpkin. Then pose him on your porch to greet all of your Halloween guests.

Nature Walk
Another fond memory I have is collecting the colorful leaves, taking them home and pressing them between two pieces of wax paper sheets by using an iron on a very low setting.   Take a walk through the woods or your local park with your children, and pick-up the interesting and colorful leaves.  It’s a great opportunity for your child to experience the changing landscape. Then create leaf rubbings with crayons or place them between wax paper sheets to preserve them.  It is also fun cutting out the wax papered leaves and making a colorful sun catcher or mobile for your child’s bedroom, or to use as a bookmark in school books.

Feed the Birds
Make a birdfeeder ornament!  Simply layer peanut butter and sunflower seeds on a pinecone, then hang them on low branches for the feathered friends in your yard to enjoy.  Squirrels like them too and may even carry the whole pinecone off! 

Bobbing for Apple Fun
Nothing so sweet than apple treats!  Go apple picking at your local orchard, and make homemade caramel apples, apple pie, apple crumble, applesauce, pumpkin ice cream or apple cider.  Making many of these delicious seasonal apple treats is fun and easy, and something the entire family can enjoy!  Or hold your own apple bobbing contest.

About the Author
Catherine currently resides in Tualatin, Oregon and is the owner, songwriter and main vocalist for her children's music production company, Pitter Patter Productions. The company has specialized in original award-winning music for children from newborn through kindergarten since 1992. Living Green? Our music is available for download at:, and iTunes (search Catherine Pittman). CD's are still available at

Download our new holiday album, Once Upon a Silent Night.  All of our albums can be downloaded by the song or the entire album.