The Character Movement

Little Acts of Service

“One, two, three, four…” That’s the sound of my daughter, Tess, quietly counting buttons. When she comes into Youth Frontiers’ office, I try to find little ways for her to help out. It’s a way to keep her mind occupied and it gives her a feeling of service. Most of the time, this means the somewhat monotonous task of counting buttons.

Button counting may seem like a small, unimportant act, but it greatly helps our Retreat Staff. Every day on retreat, these buttons are given to students and educators as visual reminders of the promises they made to be more kind, to act with courage and to show more respect.

Each retreat has a different number of people and a different type of button. Some weeks we do more than 35 retreats, working with more than 5,000 students and educators. Those buttons add up quickly and they all need to be sorted and organized. It’s an ongoing, simple task that always needs to be done, and, Jane and I encourage Tess to help where she can. We want her to see how little acts of service and kindness can add up to make a big impact.

On Monday, the whole country will be celebrating a great man and hero, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. On this day, we’re encouraged to find a way to give back to our communities and celebrate the spirit of service MLK stood for.

This day is a perfect opportunity to start a conversation with your kids about service. Encourage them to find a cause or organization that’s important to them and see what volunteer opportunities are available. If your child loves animals, take them to the animal shelter. If they love music, have them volunteer at your local performing arts center. If they love the outdoors, have them assist with cleanup or landscaping. Allowing your kids to choose the volunteer activity makes it more personal, impactful and meaningful for them.

Hopefully, volunteering will jumpstart a life-long passion for service in your kids. Even little acts, like counting buttons, can have a big impact on your community and your child’s life. To learn more about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Day of Service, check out this website. You can also find volunteer opportunities in your area by visiting Volunteer Match.

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