Well, we have made it to the end of the first month of our year-long project! I would say our efforts have exceeded my expectations so far. I have completed six projects, two ahead of my goal to average one per week. Each month, I plan to do a wrap-up of the months’ projects, lessons learned that month, and anything else I think might be noteworthy.
The other day, I mentioned some of our projects to a friend. Her reaction was different from any other reaction I have gotten. She said, “Wow, that sounds… expensive!” So, I thought I would note below about how much each project costs, in case anyone out there is considering tackling a project and concerned with a budget.
We started with baking cookies for the fire station down the street. This is a great project to do with little kids. It’s quick and easy and kids love it. The total cost for this project was about $15.
My second project was to commit to drinking water, rather than Diet Dr Pepper, and donate the proceeds to benefit a clean water charity. This project is still ongoing, since I committed for thirty days. I am sad to report that I have failed in my effort to completely eliminate Diet Dr Pepper from my life. However, I have SIGNIFICANTLY decreased the amount of Diet Dr Pepper consumed. I have gone several days without any, but I have also had a fair number of days where I had one. (And only one or two days with more than that.) Given where I started, I am happy with this progress. I still plan to work towards cutting back even further, but I am trying to be realistic in my goals. Most importantly, I am donating my $32 to charity as soon as I finish this post. This project is cheap or even free, since the goal is to reallocate money you already spend. (In my case, unfortunately, I did still spend some money on Diet Dr Pepper. For those of you fellow Dave Ramsey fans, I took that money out of my “blow” money.)
Next, we bought school supplies for children at a local homeless shelter, Family Gateway. I was surprised at how well Abby did with this project, in that she did not beg for anything for herself. For this project, we probably spent around $25. Fourth, we handed out water at a local park. This was definitely a cheap project (we spent about $3.50 for a 24-pack of water), and it is easy for preschoolers to participate in. My fifth project was simply about making an effort to do the little things to make a difference. Generally, the little things are free and take very little time, but they can really make a big impact.
Our last project, hosting a birthday party at the Boys & Girls’ Club, has been by far my favorite to this point. Although it was our most expensive project to date (I spent about $75), it was worth every penny. (I have to think Dave Ramsey would approve of me spending out of my clothing envelope to finance this birthday party. Who needs new clothes anyway, right?)
The highlights so far for me have been the reactions from the children at the Boys & Girls’ Club and the positive reactions I have gotten from Abby. As you may well know, preschoolers can be moody – at least mine sure can! Abby has thrown more than one temper tantrum in her day. I can safely say that she has never objected to a single thing we have done with these projects. I can only think of once when she cried, and it was because the chaos at the Boys & Girls’ Club got too loud for her. She quickly got over it when I let her share in the cake and ice cream! Abby regularly comes up with suggestions for projects, and I always encourage her ideas. She’ll yell an idea from all the way across the house and follow it up with “that would sure be a nice thing to do, wouldn’t it mom?” I can’t wait to see how much she changes after a whole year of service!
It has also been really exciting for me to see others inspired by our project. An old college friend, Catherine, followed our lead and took cookies and milk to the fire station with her daughters. They also bought bottled waters for some people working outside who looked hot. I love it! Another friend, Geri, has shared our project with her church and has proposed starting monthly service projects with the youth group there. She even asked for my working list of projects for ideas. A couple of other friends have expressed an interest in hosting birthday parties at the Boys & Girls’ Club, and I have given them contact information to get the ball rolling. It warms my heart that what we are doing is inspiring others to give! (If we inspire you to do something, please let me know about it. I renews my enthusiasm to continue our journey!)
My goal moving forward is to try to get more friends involved in our projects. Our National Day of Service project is coming up on September 11. So far, we only have one family committed to helping, which makes me sad. But, even if we are the only ones there, we will collect as much food as we can and keep our committment to serving in honor of one of the fallen. We are also planning to make posters and thank you cards and go to DFW Airport to welcome home soldiers this month. If you are interested in joining us for either of these events, please let me know. We would love to have you!