written by Pam Molnar
April is Community Service Month, which is the perfect time to get involved in your community and make a difference. Many organizations chose April to bring awareness to their cause by naming it their month of recognition. Children and adults can join them this month by sharing their time, talents and network of friends to celebrate spring in a charitable way.
National Garden Month
You don’t need a green thumb to start seedlings for community garden at home or in the classroom. When the seedlings have grown and the ground is ready, gather a group to do the planting. Many communities offer a community garden plot for a nominal fee. Offer your harvest of fresh vegetables to a local food pantry throughout the growing season.
Women’s Health Care Month
Women’s shelters never seem to have enough supplies for all the people who need them. Check out the websites of local women’s shelters for their most needed list which often include toiletries, towels, cold medicines, hand sanitizers and batteries. Get the word out through word of mouth, fliers and social media. Set up collection boxes in schools, churches and your own front door.
Autism Awareness Month
For kids on the normal spectrum, it’s sometimes hard to understand the challenges of living with Autism. AMC offers Sensory Friendly Films, which allows patrons to get up and walk around during the movie or talk freely without being shushed. They keep the lights up and the volume down. To support Autism and students in your community affected by it, purchase a 500+ piece puzzle and raffle off the pieces. The money collected will go to support Autism and the winners of the raffle can attend a movie screening with their classmates for a better understanding of a day in their lives.
Pets are Wonderful Month
Did you ever think about fostering kittens? With an estimated 20 million kittens born each spring, now is the best time to give it a try. As a former kitten foster myself, I can tell you that kittens are low maintenance, playful guests and easily adopted. The shelters need you to give them a temporary home, take them to vet appointments, socialize them with people and other pets and post their sweet faces on social media in the hopes of finding them a forever home.
National Older Americans Month
Assisted Living Facilities can be a lonely place if you are a resident. They long for the spark of the younger generation. Plan a visit with your your scout troop or youth group. They love the idea of kids who want to play games or perform for them. You can also make up a Senior Sunshine Gift – all yellow items – to leave with the residents. Care packages might include Subway cards, Lays chips, peanut M &Ms, lemonade, smiley face items, Juicy Fruit gum, Lemonheads, yellow nail polish, coffee mugs, lip balm and note pads.
Voltaire once said, “No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible.” That is a great analogy for the abuse of our environment. We are all responsible for the mess and therefore, all need to be responsible for cleaning it up. Look around your school, community or even in your own house. Consider creating a compost pile, unplug the unnecessary power vampires, choose walking over getting rides, be mindful of your water usage and practice the three R’s – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
Keep America Beautiful Month
Check your local community for Adopt a Highway programs, where a group goes out to clean up trash in a designated area. You can also organize a Clean Your Block program through KAB.com. This program suggests several ways to help clean up your part of the world by removing litter and debris from the tops of storm drains, educating about local recycling options, removing graffiti and cleaning up local playgrounds.
National Month of Hope
An idea for this event is to lift the spirts of families with loved ones in the hospital. Why not make a meal at a local Ronald McDonald House? Try something beyond pasta like steak fajitas, BBQ pork or an ethic meal that would best serve that community. You can also gather items for the care givers like notebooks and pens, adult coloring books, mints or gift cards to the hospital cafeteria.
American Cancer Society Month
Cancer is an awful disease and the chemotherapy required to help combat it will make patients feel worse before they feel better. Gather your friends, classmates or scout troop and make something from the heart. Even those with minimal sewing skills can make tied fleece blankets, rice filled heating pads (that can be heated in microwave) and breast cancer pillows, designed to keep your arm off the tender tissue after mastectomies.
Stress Awareness Month
Unfortunately, stress is a part of our day to day lives. The best way to combat it is to take several breaks during the day. Help set up space in your classroom, home or workspace that is a place to recharge. A sunny window, fresh air and a comfy seat is a great place to start. Fill the space with coloring books, paints or musical instruments to take a creative break. Offer a yoga mat, a jump rope or the equipment to listen to a mediation podcast.
Pam Molnar is a freelance writer and mother of three. As a former Girl Scout Leader, she and her girls have had a chance to help many local charities with their time, talent and troopmates.