When I was a little girl, service above self was deep-rooted into my spirit. My Father was a Rotarian for many years and their motto is, “service above self”, which conveys the philosophy of unselfish volunteer service. Dad would take me on several service projects, and while I would have rather stayed home and played with my Barbie’s, secretly, I knew someone would be giving me an extra cookie or scoop of ice cream. He did not have to twist my arm to go along with him. Today, I know he was trying to instill within me the understanding of giving (even though I was always ‘given’ an extra cookie), but even at a young age, I was proud of him for his service to our community.
Another service project our family partook was each Christmas after breakfast and opening presents, we would dress to attend, “It’s a Real Christmas” at the Community Center where volunteers would entertain, cook and celebrate the holiday with those who were less fortunate. Mom always volunteered for me to sing. Yes, I was shy, but who can resist a child singing Christmas carols with two front teeth missing. My parents helped clean tables and serve food and after a few hours, we would return home feeling like the Grinch, whose heart grew three sizes that day.
Mom was a member of a women’s civic organization and took me several times a year to deliver coats to children and purchase toys for families. When I helped pick out coats for children, I always felt I was a fashion designer for The Devil Wears Prada, giving fashion advice to what trendy styles looked best. Before Christmas, the organization went to the local stores to purchase toys to ensure that all children would have something under the tree. The women split up into groups and allowed those who brought their children to help pick out what we thought other children would enjoy. Talk about feeling like Santa. Then we would help wrap the gifts and stand back and image the joy the children would feel when they opened them.
All those years I partnered with my parents to do service projects, donated to me more than I contributed. It taught me about self-esteem, organizational skills, leadership, empathy, compassion and putting words into action. As I grew older, service found its way into my life through a platform that I created, ‘PAWS for Therapy”. While holding the title of Miss Kansas City, I visited local hospitals with therapy dogs to bring joy to those who were patients. I especially remember Gavin, an eight year old boy who had been in the hospital for several weeks and missed his own dog. Several years have passed since that day, but I can still remember the look on his face when he saw me enter his room with my Lexi. Again, my heart grew three sizes that day. In fact my featured image above was from one of my favorite Miss Kansas City volunteer events for The Children’s Miracle Network, an organization today I still give to. Today, I have my own children and plan to continue the service tradition with them – to leave a mark on our local community, to teach them about compassion and invest in their future.
So in this blog post, I not only give you extra ways to serve this holiday season, but The Giving Manger website on how to order this wonderful Christmas tradition instilling service into your home structure and kids life. I promise you, as an example in myself, it will have a lasting impression on them.