Joyful Giving: Ideas · Joyful Giving: Inspiration

Spread the Love

spread-the-love

Valentine’s Day can often make those not in a relationship feel excluded or un-loved.  In recent years, it has also been re-branded Singles Awareness Day.  Although I applaud the clever response to a traditionally romantic-focused holiday; I think the singles of the world-and everyone else- could do one better and see Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to spread love to those who could really use it.

For the past year, I have been mentoring two teen moms through a program called Young Lives. I would like to think I have been helpful and supportive to them, but this experience has been completely life changing for me. I have walked with them as they have faced everything from boyfriend problems, low self-esteem, homelessness and domestic abuse- all well raising a child and trying to graduate high school.  Often they feel forgotten by the world and those around them.  Last week, I even saw one of them re-post a meme on Facebook about what the world’s Valentine’s Day would be like vs. their February 14th. This gave me an idea, what if everyone who felt they didn’t have anyone to celebrate Valentine’s Day with did something to spread love to someone who really needed it?

I got started on my surprise gifts this weekend!  T & I (I’ll use their initials to protect their privacy.) are good friends, so I’m always careful to buy them the same or similar items so that there are no hurt feelings.  They both have similar interests and have boys within a year of each other so that makes shopping for them at the same time pretty easy.  Although I love buying the girls indulgent items that they usually don’t get to splurge on for themselves, the reality is that they are great mommas and they love being able to provide for their kids.  So I knew I would have to fill their gift bags with some things the boys would enjoy as well!

First, I started with a cute bag!  The Target dollar aisle had these adorable totes for only $3, and I loved the idea of giving them a bag they could reuse.

Next, I needed some Valentine’s Day themed items! I found some adorable socks with an XOXO pattern that I knew they would love.  Target also had Tic Tacs that were red, white and pink with cute phrases on them.

Then, they need something to make them feel special! Beauty products don’t always make it into the budget when you’re in high school and raising a baby. I added some travel size bath and body works lotion, hand sanitizer and body wash to their bags.  It is so important for them to feel confident and beautiful and starting the day off smelling sweet is a great way to start them on that path!

Finally, something to share with the boys! Kids love snacks, and I know these mamas work hard to make sure their growing boys have what they need.  I added some snack items that I knew both the moms and boys would enjoy so that was one less thing they needed to pick up from the store this week.

I’m so excited to surprise them with these treats on Valentine’s Day! I really could give them anything and it would be appreciated; it’s being remembered on a day when they are usually forgotten that means the world to them.

Who can you share a little love with this Valentine’s Day?  Consider making a bag of food and toiletry items for the homeless woman you pass every day on your way to work.  Stop by your local retirement home with goodies or just spend some time with them.  Do you have a million un-used makeup samples or extra bath products you have received as gifts? Wrap them up and bring them to your local domestic violence shelter. Want to spread the love worldwide?  Donate to a refugee relief organization that is helping provide resources to the world’s most vulnerable.

We have all felt forgotten or unloved on a Valentine’s Day, but imagine what it would be like if we stopped worrying about what we were or were not getting on February 14th and instead got excited about how we could brighten someone else’s day?

Ready, Set, #spreadthelove!

To help get your creative juices flowing I have listed of the organizations I have worked with or supported in the past that do a wonderful job of spreading the love to those who need it most.

Genesis Women’s Shelter– An emergency domestic abuse shelter as well as a full service transitional program for women and their families. I have had first-hand experience working with this shelter and I cannot praise their work enough. *This specific shelter is in Dallas, TX, but I welcome you to find a shelter in your local community to support.*

Preemptive Love– These men and women are serving those most at risk in the Middle East.  They are providing food, sleeping bags, medical care and more to refugee camps and even getting supplies into cities that have had their supplies cut off by Isis for months.  They also post amazing updates via social media so you can really be a part of their life-saving work.

Soup Mobile– I love this organization because not only are they feeding and providing necessities for the homeless, but they do so via mobile soup kitchen that meets the people where they are.  They have also begun a transitional housing program and opened a church specifically for the homeless. *This organization is local to Dallas, TX, but I encourage you to find an organization that serves the homeless of your community.*

YoungLives– This is the organization I am currently volunteering with.  It is a Christian based mentorship program that provides friendship and support to teen mothers.  We spend time with girls on a 1:1 basis and in a group setting with other teen mothers from the area. The hope is that through the relationships made through YoungLives they would feel loved, supported and encouraged to reach their full potential.

Please share with me all of the ways you #spreadlove on Valentine’s Day!

With Love, From Me To You

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