How do we respond? How do we help children to face the world with confidence and joy, when it appears so often to be dark and horrible?
Long ago, my husband and I adopted a habit we call "putting something good out there." (Not a very catchy title, but those are the words we've used . . . )
It started at a time when we were facing some personal problems that seemed overwhelming and we felt completely helpless to change them. One morning I said, "You know, instead of just reacting to all this bad, how can we be proactive? We can't change this circumstance, but we can affect the balance of good and evil in the world, can't we?"
I called up a local homeless shelter that ran a daycare for children of their clients so that the adults could spend their days looking for work, or working, without worrying about childcare. I said, "I'd like to come in and do music with the kids every week." They laughed and said, "We certainly don't have any budget for that!" I explained that I didn't need money, just permission.
So, every week (until we moved away from that town), my little daughters and I went to this daycare and taught the kids fun songs. At the end of the school year we had them put on a performance for their parents.
You know, I do not remember what the problem was that seemed so insurmountable at the time--but I do remember those kids, who had pretty tough lives themselves, joyfully singing, "I am good, I am kind, I am special ..." and lots of fun and goofy songs.
Since then, we have let bad news, either our own or news such as the Connecticut shooting yesterday, prompt us to "put something good out there"--sponsor another child,
donate to a charity, pick up trash, send a note of encouragement, put coins in an expired parking meter--anything we could come up with that would contribute "something good" as a response to something bad.
In the interest of sharing, I've compiled a list of 30 ideas for doing your own "something good." We should create a movement: What if every time some bad event occurred, scores of people turned around and responded with something positive? When the world appears unbearably evil, can we collectively attempt to demonstrate that there is still more love and more generosity and caring--and that every evil act will simply prompt us to love more?
That's my dream, and here's my list, with helpful websites for each one. I'd love for folks to comment with other ideas!
30 Ways to Do Good
1. Plant a tree in the Atlantic forest: http://www.plantabillion.org
2. Plant a tree for yourself--or give a baby tree kit as a gift! http://www.treeinabox.com
3. Sponsor a child: www.compassion.com
4. Sponsor a child: www.worldvision.org
5. Sponsor a child: www.childrenincorporated.org
6. Sponsor a child: www.plantabook.org
7. Sponsor a child: http://www.lifechange.net
8. Sponsor a woman in a war-torn nation: www.womenforwomen.org
9. Anonymously pay down someone else’s layaway account for Christmas: http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/story/2011-12-20/charity-layaway-christmas/52129100/1
10. Support a classroom in need: www.donorschoose.org
11. Give a cow to a family in need: http://www.heifer.org/
12. Support a third-world entrepreneur: www.kiva.org
13. Write a letter to a soldier: http://action.uso.org/action/thank-you-letter?sc=OM_Google-G_Support12-S_Thankyou-Write=Write%20a%20letter%20to%20a%20soldier_thank&page=FB5&donate=WW11VLP285&gclid=CLiqiIvmnLQCFStgMgodEEwABA
14. Send a thank you note to someone you appreciate: http://www.365thankyounotes.com/
15. Set up a “compliments” Facebook page for your school or organization: http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/12/09/15797908-cyber-graciousness-students-set-up-facebook-sites-for-compliments?lite
16. Find a place to volunteer: http://www.volunteermatch.org/
17. Buy a shirt for charity: www.sevenly.org
18. Donate old iPods to the elderly: http://www.ximotionmedia.com/
19. Donate an old cell phone: http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/donate-cell-phone-charity.htm
20. Perform a random act of kindness: http://www.helpothers.org/ideas.php
21. Join in on a craft project to benefit a charity: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Craft-Hope/105243509513568
22. Donate new or used shoes for people in need: http://www.soles4souls.org/
23. Help bring clean drinking water to people who don’t have it: http://www.waterforpeople.org/
24. Help bring clean drinking water to people who don’t have it: http://www.charitywater.org/
25. Buy a newspaper to help a homeless person: http://www.denvervoice.org/
26. Guide kids (and yourself) to media that is violence-free and positive: http://www.commonsensemedia.org/
27. Have a family game night! http://pinterest.com/julieluvsthis/family-game-night-ideas/
28. Watch (and share) the 5th-graders at P.S. 22 sing “Joy to the World”: http://www.good.is/posts/a-reminder-that-there-s-still-good-out-there-p-s-22-sings-joy-to-the-world
29. Sign up for all kinds of good news at http://www.good.is/
30. Buy and give gifts that do good: http://www.cometogethertrading.com/