Socially Distanced Acts of Kindness for Families 

By Tracey Dowdy

I feel like nearly everything I’ve written for the last eight months starts with some iteration or acknowledgment of the statement “2020 has brought unprecedented challenges to families…” One of the healthiest ways to take your mind of the relentless bad news cycle and frustration is and see all the good that’s happening around us is to take our eyes off ourselves and do something kind for others. 

As parents, we tend to prioritize our children’s happiness and achievements over their concern for others. But, part of raising healthy children who mature into healthy adults is teaching them kindness and compassion towards others. 

So with Thanksgiving just days away, here are a few ways for your family to show small acts of kindness to those who may need some encouragement and bring a little light and happiness into their lives. 

Though some home-baked goods may not be an option during a pandemic, there are still ways to say thank you to frontline workers like nurses, doctors, EMTs, firefighters, and law enforcement for the extraordinary work they’ve been doing. Have your children create a card or make a poster and drop it off at their station, hospital, or clinic. If you want to go bigger, get your neighbors, playgroup, or friends to pitch in a buy them all pizza or coffee and doughnuts. 

Next time you’re in line at a drive-through, pay for the car behind you in line. It’s a simple gesture, but it teaches your children that being kind is important whether the receiver ever shows you gratitude or recognizes what you’ve done. 

Whether you go old school and write out the notes by hand, send texts, emails, or through social media, have your children think of people who’ve shown them kindness, taught them something new, or served them their Happy Meal with a smile. 2020 has been hard on all of us, but the service industry – house cleaners, baristas, servers, and tradespeople – has been hit particularly hard. 

Stock up on non-perishable items like canned goods, pasta, rice, beans, personal hygiene items, or socks and drop them off at a local food bank or homeless shelter. For specifics on what to donate and what to skip, click on this list from Local Love and Domestic Shelters helps you find domestic violence shelters that are accepting donations right now. 

Deliver meals, groceries, or pharmacies to a shut-in or senior citizen in your neighborhood or help them do yard work and winterize their home. 

Blood donations have dropped significantly over the past several months, so if you and your child are eligible, consider donating blood. Click here for a blood drive in your area. 

Finally, if you prefer to volunteer from home, All for Good has a list of service ideas and opportunities in your area. 

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits, and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.