One Good Deed A Day

I used to keep this quote on my desk at work: “What am I to do? I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good work, therefore, any kindness, or any service I can render to any soul of man…let me do it now. Let me not neglect or defer it, for I shall not pass this way again.” 

It's an old Quaker saying and I was thinking about it today.

More specifically, I was reflecting on how much (or how little) time I spend thinking about others. I wondered to myself, "Do I get so wrapped up in my day and all that needs to be done that I forget to reach out to friends, acquaintances, and strangers?"

One Good Deed A Day 1I want my daughter to see compassion, to embrace it, to believe in it. I want her to notice when people are suffering and to think up ways to ease their pain. Deep down, I know - with absolute confidence - that she will only do these things and be these things if she sees them in me.  This is one of the ultimate truths of parenting and one that is incredibly humbling.

So, I want to commit to do at least one good deed a day. It doesn't have to be extravagant - perhaps just sending a postcard to a friend or baking cookies for a local school or opening the door at the store for a mom with her hands full or bringing my new neighbor a housewarming present (that has been on my to-do list for a week!). Just little ordinary things that change the world.

One Good Deed A Day 2I'm sure I'll be getting some of my ideas from The Good Deed Guide: Simple Ways To Make The World A Better Place by James and Lisa Grace (Quirk Books, 2003). It's a handy little square-shaped book with sturdy pages and simple illustrations. The guide is divided into four sections - Doing Good With First Aid, Doing Good for Friends and Neighbors, Doing Good for Strangers, and Doing Good for Your Community. The ideas are "how-to's"...how to treat a child's skinned knee, how to visit someone in the hospital, how to give good directions, etc. Some of the items are commonsense and there isn't anything particularly "new" here, but - overall - I found the book to be clever and good-hearted. I'd like to see more books on this topic.

YOUR TURN: How do you teach your child(ren) about compassion and charity? What simple things do you do WITH your baby/toddler/kids to help others? 

WIN IT! One winner will receive a copy of The Good Deed Guide: Simple Ways to Make the World A Better Place by James and Lisa Grace. To enter, leave a comment on this post prior to Thursday, June 26 at midnight (don’t forget to follow the rules). * Winner must provide a U.S. mailing address.

*UPDATE* The winner is #6 Theresa J. Congratulations!

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72 comments on “One Good Deed A Day”

  1. I show my children compassion and charity by
    letting them help me help others,through giving
    to others in need and visiting someone sick in
    the hospital.Let them make a card for them or
    help me cook food for a shut in.They learn by
    watching and engaging.Thanks for the giveaway

  2. I show my daughter by leading by example and explaining why I give to strangers or volunteer to help others. I explain that some people are not as fortunate as others and why it is important to help others and be kind.

  3. Children learn from their parents and we try very hard to be good examples...we volunteer and donate our time as much as possible.

  4. We volunter at two places; The Animal Control Shelter; and the Love Kitchen in serving meals/delivering meals; no questions asked; no money required. Thanks

  5. We discuss the events in the news and figure out what we can do to help. I was ready to cry when they decided to withdraw money from their bank accounts to assist those who were affected by Hurricane Katrina.

  6. Ever since my children were toddlers, our family has put together Christmas for a person or family in need. Last year it was a family with four children who lost everything in the wildfires here in San Diego County. The father had been operated on for a brain tumor just prior to the fires. We spent days shopping to get many of the things they needed to "start over." Then we spent two days wrapping the items and placing names on the gifts. My children love this tradition. (The bulk of our Christmas budget goes toward getting things for others who are in need instead of lavishing things on ourselves.) And during the year we look for ways to serve others, and the community. Even tiny hands can help.

  7. i use coupons so i buy alot of stuff we dont need and give all the extras to the battered womens shelter..

  8. I have always stressed to my children the importace of the "Golden Rule", even with each other when they are in their sibbling rivialries. I think the biggest impact that we had lately, was with my oldest daughter's friend that lost their home in a fire. They were displaced into a trailer and as a family we spent all Saturday afternoon making breakfast, lunch and dinners to take to them later that evening. The family was taken back, and I think my children realized how lucky they really are.

  9. I have my son make cards and give them to the people who would be uplifted by them. We get a set of those blank white cards from Michaels that include envelopes and my son colors and decorates them with stickers and then we write a message in them for the person and deliver them with a bouquet of roses from our garden :)

  10. i teach them that not everyone is so lucky, and never to judge anyone on what they dont or do have. We go through thier toys/clothing every couple months and donate to charity/goodwill ect.

  11. We don't litter, we recycle stuff, we donate clothing regularly and we sponsor a family every Christmas. We make sure our daughter knows what we're doing, and why. It's great!

  12. Looks like a great book. I am into recylcing and taking care of our earth, so I take my kids on garbage clean up walks and we clean up litter. Now at parks or wherever we go they see litter and want to clean it up. I am proud to see my little ones doing their part to clean up our planet.

  13. My triplets are only infants but I give away some of their outgrown items to other multiple families for free. I hope to do this when they're older too so they can see what it's like to give to others.

  14. This looks like a really neat book! I have been trying to instill compassion for others in my children in tangible, age-appropriate ways, but it always seems that it's an uphill battle in our "me first" society. Thanks for sharing!

  15. At Christmastime, we fill a box with food and toys and then donate it anonymously to a family in need.

  16. I just volunteer to do things and hope that my example will inspire my daughter to try to be helpful in varous ways, too.

  17. My children donate toys and clothes they no longer need to those that can make use of them. They also pick organizations to donate their time or money to help out and we often talk about how lucky they are compared to other children in this world or even our community.

  18. Awesome post....ok...LOVE the boots! My husband calls me the shoe queen! I can spot a cool pair of shoes anywhere! Hehe! Sorry I got distracted...by the shoes...I only wish I could wear those. It's been OVER 100 degrees the last week and the only thing I can stand to wear is a pair of flip flops...so sad...

  19. The best teacher is example so we set an example by being polite to others, by donating toys and clothing to others, by teaching how to share.
    I think one of the best examples we set for having compassion for others is not badmouthing anyone, and being patient with those who are disabled either physically or mentally.

  20. “Do unto others as you want them to do unto you!” My kids and grandkids are taught to respect their elders and to help them out when they can.by opening a door ,helping elders with their chores etc.ty 4 the nice contest!

  21. We have two pet projects. (

    1) Voice of the Martyrs in which we send blankets to Sudan and care packages to others in persecution.

    (2) We often adopt an army chaplain and send him boxes of goodies to share with the soldiers under his care. We write letters to the entire group to encourage them as well.

    My kids do extra chores to earn money for these contributions. They are so proud when we go shopping.

    I have a son with autism and it was much more of a challenge to teach him empathy. When I was hurt, I would put his hands on my tears, make him look at my crying face, and explain to him how sad I was feeling and why. Now when he sees somebody crying...he is concerned and wants to find comfort for them.

    Blessings to you. Thank you for sharing how important it is for us to reach outside of ourselves and bless another!

  22. We try to teach Blondie about doing nice things for others even though she's only 2 (wow, almost 3 I guess!). When doing something kind I try to explain that others aren't as fortunate as we are so it makes God happy when we share what we have with those who don't have as much. She recently went through her toy box to get rid of some toys she doesn't play with too often anymore. She picked some to pass down to her sister and some to give to kids who need her toys more than she does. We also started our pleases and thank yous from the very start, and she does pretty well. But we can always do more and teach the kids more, so I'd love to read this book and see how to improve our family and those around us. Thanks!

  23. We try to instill in our 5 year old daughter how fortunate we are even though we are going paycheck to paycheck. She often goes through her toys and books to donate to charity or the homeless shelter. She also goes with me as often as possible when I volunteer at various organizations.

    Another thing she likes to help with is that sometimes when we see homeless people while we are out we will often go home and make them a little food package. We will give a sandwich, fruit, granola bars and bottled water. she sees first hand how some people are going through a hard time and need our help and how the little kindness we share is so appreciated.

  24. I am a member of The Box Project and we pack a box of goods once a month to send to our match family in Mississippi.

  25. Last Halloween we joined up with some friends and took their kids and Thumper the bunny (aka our almost one-year-old daughter) to a nearby nursing home, so that she could strut her stuff. The elderly folk loved it and 'Thumper' loved being the focus of attention! It was a small thing, but it made everyone feel good:)

  26. Hello! What an adorable book! I hope that I and my husband are teaching our sons by example. Whether that is helping someone in need, their helping their grandpa who will be 90 next month in any way they can! On Friday morning, I was on our front porch and went to come in and sometimes happened in the back of my right knee! I crawled in the house and yelled for both sons. They came quickly to help me and my younger son gave me pats on the back for solace. My birthday is on the 26th of this month. I hope they know what to do for that! LOL. Cindi

  27. My 12 year old daughter has had a down syndrome friend for three years. Other kids sometimes tease her about this. I asked her about this and she said, "Karlee's nice, that's too bad for the other kids!" My daughter teaches me about compassion everyday!

  28. Ahh, we struggle with this also. Our oldest son tends to have problems thinking of others so I have added this high on my list of things to work on. I am trying to remind him that daddy's job is to help people. I also try to ask him to think what others are feeling and what we would want done if it was one of us.

  29. We do the usual things during the holidays-donate toys, etc. But we also try and teach them every day about the little things. Holding doors open for people, smiling & saying hello, buying the persons behind us paper. We talk alot about kids that aren't as lucky as us, and to appreciate what we have.

  30. I think that you have to share with them the reality that some children have to endure. It is sad but it shows them that they are lucky and should have compassion for others.

  31. Hug when happy.
    Hug when sad.
    Hug when angry.
    Hug when leaving.
    Hug when returning.
    Hug after every scolding.
    Hug when tantrums end.
    Whenever in doubt HUG!!!

  32. My daughter and I regularly prepare donations for charity. I want her to know that not everyone is as fortunate as we are.

    kelli at pfrog dot net

  33. This is a great giveaway. We try really hard to keep the earth as we left it. My daughter was part of a project stream and did community work all school year long, weekends and did things to help animals. Even at 12 she's a vegetarian and animal activist.

  34. We've talked alot to my son, the athlete at 6, about good sportsmanship. He has taken it to heart, he helps others up when they fall on the field and always says "Good Game" to the other team.

  35. This summer I’m doing a lot of walking with the kids & we always take a bag with us. What’s the bag for you ask? Well I’ll tell ya, we pick up garbage on our way around town. I also do this when we are at the park - I pick up while they play.

  36. How do you teach your child(ren) about compassion and charity? we never throw clothes or old toys, music etc away. Every season we clean their rooms together...and I have 2 teens!!! We go through everything and have a big bag in the room...anything they do not need or want gets donated...they come with me to donate it.

    What simple things do you do WITH your baby/toddler/kids to help others? - live what you teach. Because my kids are older, we watch the news together and I remind them each day how lucky they are and that they need to help others that they can actually see on TV, hear on the radio etc.

    We also send cards all of the time...for happy and sad occasions...they sign their own names (i know this may sound like a small thing, but try to find a teenager to give you a minute to do this...lol)..we talk about the card, who it's for etc...

    And if there is a friend who has a good or bad occasion, I make a meal for the whole family and we bring it over their home together...a friend's husband recently had a heart attack (he is fine now) and we brought over a full course dinner...food that he could eat as well..for their 3 teenage sons.

    THANKS for wonderful contest!!!!!!

  37. For me, it is always about leading by example. If I get a new pair of shoes, a pair goes in the Goodwill Pile.Now my 5 yr old daughter will put something she no longer plays with in the pile before she asks for something new. Recently our church took up collections for soldiers in Iraq and my daughter carefully read the list and we went shopping. I guess it really comes down to seeing an oppertunity and taking advantage of it to teach. Right now she is really focused on recycling so as a family we are working on that - even my 20 mo old knows the difference when we say "paper trash" and "garbage" :)

  38. I volunteer quite a bit for causes close to my heart and my husband does volunteer work for Habitat for Humanity. We include our kids whenever possible. They also donate their own belongings to local charities a couple of times a year and help deliver turkey dinners to families in need during the holidays.
    gkstratos @yahoo.com

  39. Thanks for another great post and a great book idea. I haven't heard of this one and want to check it out. M favorite book on this subject is, "Above All, Be Kind. Raising a Humane Child in Challenging Times" by Zoe Weil. I've read it three times so far, and love going back to it to refresh my thinking. I hope to teach my daughter through my example, and I know sometimes I fail miserably, but I'm not going to stop trying. Just think, if every parent worked on this, what a better place the world would be!

    http://psychmamma.wordpress.com

  40. In order for your children to be charitable, you definitely need to model that behavior yourself. After all, parents are the most important teachers a child has!

    I think an important part of being charitable is being aware and present in the moment! You can't notice someone needs a helping hand with the door if you're too busy digging in your purse for your keys! The wonderful thing about giving (whether money, your time, your talents...) you always end up with a good feeling.

  41. We make meals for people who have recently had a baby. The children can readily identify with how important this is, our family having been on the receiving end ourselves a number of times! And since I'm in the kitchen a lot anyway, it doesn't disrupt our regular schedule much. The children love to plan (and make) a fun dessert. Added bonus: we get to see the little newbie when we drop off the meal.

  42. that doesn't look like proper carseat use... ha!

    I try to take Roo to my volunteer work sometimes and explain why it's good to help others. Right now, the concept is sort of vague to her. I can't expect her to be charitable to her baby brother all the time, so strangers are kind of an unknown. But one day it will click.

  43. What a great book. My son always ask how can I make friends. I always tell him to offer a smile first. and it will take off from there. This sounds like a great book anyone could benefit from.

  44. What a great goal to have... making the world a better place, one little deed at a time. This is SO healthy for all of us, not just because we are helping others, but I believe we were created to serve, and it feeds our soul to do so.

  45. This summer I'm doing a lot of walking with the kids & we always take a bag with us. What's the bag for you ask? Well I'll tell ya, we pick up garbage on our way around town. I also do this when we are at the park - I pick up while they play.
    I think it's a good way to teach the kids to pay attention to what's around them & give them a sense of responsibility. It's up to all of us to keep our town clean & I'm teaching my kids to do their part.

  46. I have a poster hanging in front of my computer in my living room to remind us (my family and I) of what we should be thankful for and what we are given. It reads:
    To Each is alotted the same amount of time, to each is given 24 hours in each day, 60 minutes in each hour, 60 secondes in each minute. The difference in individuals lies in the way that we utilize that day, that hour, that minute.

    I live by that saying. I give what I can, when I can...even if it is just a hello to a stranger in the store. I read somewhere once that you could save a life with a smile. Who knows. You might see someone in the grocery store that is contimplating suicide because they aren't worth anything, that this person wouldn't even be missed. If you smile, ask them about a vegtable (just nonsence conversations) or just say hello; you might actually detour them from ugly thoughts long enough to see that they may actually be very important to someone out there.

    I was born with bilatteral cleft lip and have endured 23 facial surgeries. My son was born with unilatteral cleft lip and through the graces of God my son has a very slim minor slit down the right side of his lip and into his nose. He underwent one surgery and is a handsome person. My two girls didn't have any of it (which I cried for many days because I was so grateful). I have (because of this) explained to my girls and my son that you cannot look at anyone or treat anyone different because of their size, shape, color or race. You have to love them because we were all put here together.

    We are also going through many hardships right now and we've taught our kids that not everybody has everything they'd like to have. To teach them about being grateful for what we have we drive around some of the harsher neighborhoods and show our kids that there are many people out there that have it very much worse than us. It may not be a sensible thing to do, but if we want them to understand that there are "have's and have-not's" than they may have a better understanding of what we are going through.

    I know I've drug on too long (I hope I didn't bore anyone) so I will close with a saying my daughter has taught us all: "You get what you get and you don't through a fit". We use this often to remind us that although we may want a lot of things in life, sometimes it is not possible for us to have it (adults too)...so, if I complain to my husband about really wanting something my daughter will remind us...and vice versa.

  47. Isn't it the best feeling when you do something good? As long as it's done completely unselfishly, it's the best feeling there is. I love that there's a book to help nudge people into situations that have such positive outcomes.

  48. Hi, I think the best way to teach your children to be charitable and compassionate is to model the behavior in yourself. For example, I was visiting the Dr's office with my adult daughter (who is pregnant with my first grandchild), and as we were leaving, an elderly couple, one of which was in a wheelchair were coming in. My DD made an extra effort to come back and hold the door open for them. I truly believe that it's the little things that have the possibility to impact peoples lives in the most profound and unknown ways, and why not do something that doesn't cost you anything, except maybe a little of your time?

  49. Very nice, Stephanie. You are so right; sometimes we forget the things that will endure , passing those up for fleeting moments. There is an old lady across the street from me that lives alone. No one ever visits her and many times I look over and think I should take Emil (my boy) over, introduce ourselves and establish a relationship. And yet, the days go by and I fail to find a way to do that. I suppose I fear she will reject the friendship and that would crush my son.
    There are ways to be discreet, ways to show random acts and those are sometimes more appropriate. The book looks marvelous; I would love to read. Just getting done reading A Severe Mercy for the second time...

  50. What a great post, it is always great to be reminded of helping those around you. Recently, a baby bird crashed into our window, and just the simple act of calling the animal rescue to come help this injured bird, made quite the impact on my kids. I would love to read more ideas on how to be more charitable.

  51. I was also just talking about this with my husband. We want to do something as a family that are kids can see and make a difference. We really want our oldest to see how doing something for others can really lift that persons spirits. It's not always but yourself. At least that is the point we are trying to get across.

  52. Funny, I was just thinking about this subject. I happened to be at my little IGA in town waiting in line, only about 5 items, but the person behind me had one so I let him go ahead of me. It was simple and selfish for me because yes it made me feel good! So this book would be a great read! Thanks Stephanie and I feel the same way with my daughter.

  53. Thanks. Sometime it is easy to get self involved, or so involved with just our kids that it is easy to forgot about others. But I can name many times where someone has absolutely MADE my day by a simple smile or statment. I try to return that kindness to others, but this book might spring more ideas! Thanks!!
    BTW-love the boots. Yours and hers!

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