Acts of kindness don’t come naturally to me. I’m embarrassed to admit that, but it’s true. Life is full of needs, circumstances, and to-do lists that rarely point me toward others. You too? As a single mom with 4 kids to homeschool, a full-time job, church ministry, and a never-ending pile of laundry, serving other people is often just too much. Although my heart desires it, the time budget just won’t allow me to carve out the time.
But serving others is God’s way, and I want my kids to live out this truth, too.
Whenever I do squeeze room into my schedule to serve others that God puts into my path, I’m reminded of the incredible blessing it is for us both! Maybe it doesn’t come naturally, and maybe I have to push aside the demands of the to-do list, but it’s worth being intentional!
I’ve learned that sometimes we miss the little things because we are looking for a BIG opportunity to serve. The truth is that the little acts of kindness are the ones that make all the difference! Let me share some of our favorite simple ideas.
Loving Your Neighbors Through Acts of Kindness
1. Knock on doors.
One way to start showing love is to get to know your neighbors! Knocking on a door and introducing yourself and your kids is a quick way to say, “Hi! We’re glad you’re here, and we want to be your friends!” If you take walks, pick one house per walk to stop by! Even if they don’t answer the door, you can leave a note with flowers or a tasty treat as an act of kindness towards them. This is one time that ding-dong ditching is totally acceptable—just make sure you leave something nice for them to find when they open their door. 🙂
Need ideas? Our FREE Random Acts of Kindness printable game has lots more ideas for you to choose from!
2. Say thank you or give a compliment.
When you start looking for chances to speak kind words, you may be surprised at how many opportunities you actually have—neighbors are everywhere! A simple “thank you” to the person cleaning the public restroom or mopping up a mess on the floor is one way to show our appreciation. Even a kind compliment paid to the person next to you in line is a great way to spread kindness through our words. Words are powerful—let’s use them!
For extra fun, you can use our free printable Bible verse valentines to spread words of love and encouragement! They are so easy to hand out quickly or to leave for others to find. HINT: you don’t have to limit these to just one day of the year. Spreading kindness is always in style. We usually have a few on hand when we are out and about so we can brighten someone’s day.
It takes a bit of thoughtfulness to encourage someone or leave them a sweet note. Parents, don’t get discouraged when speaking kindly does NOT always come naturally for your kids. (Ahem . . . we adults struggle with this, too!) Be intentional about learning how you and your kids can love others and obey God through the words you speak. We’ve created a simple resource to help you do this. Check out our Bible study on the power of words.
3. Provide a meal.
Making a meal for someone else is a fun way to get kids involved in showing kindness! Yes, I know it takes time, but I usually double the recipe and we eat the same thing that night. Sometimes I will triple it and put one in the freezer so I’m ready to help, even at the last minute.
Don’t make this just Mom in the kitchen. Kids can help choose a meal, make a grocery list, and—depending on their age—they could even run out to get the necessary items. If you have a child who loves baking, they can take care of the dessert! And small children love to help wash and prepare veggies. Of course, everyone can help deliver!
So . . . what if cooking a meal is not an option due to a lack of time or short notice? Many restaurants work with services that can deliver a meal wherever you want them to! Kids can help with this process too—it’s really fun to select all the menu items and think of what others would enjoy having show up on their doorstep!
If things are too tight to make or buy a full meal for someone, sending them coffee or making them a dessert are both great options that still communicate kindness. It’s not about how big and showy your act of kindness is (thank goodness!)—just that you took the time to think of someone else and do something for them.
4. Donate to a homeless shelter.
Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:42, “Give to the one who begs from you,” truly show His love for those in need. In fact, this was Jesus’ ministry to all of us—He came to meet our need for a Savior! We are surrounded with people who have needs, whether spiritual or physical. Even though we cannot meet every need, we can still help!
We keep non-perishables like granola bars in the car to give to beggars when we see them on street corners. Sometimes we even have blessing bags packed to give them, but more often, we take them directly to the homeless shelter.
Shelters for the homeless can always use donations of money or even time to help with work projects like building or organizing. One way we donate is by looking through our blankets, coats, or clothing for things still in good shape that we do not use or need anymore. You know that closet that everything in your house gets thrown into, never to be seen again? Yep, that one. Announce a raid on it and enlist your kids to search for items that would help someone else. Then, donate them!
5. Adopt an elderly person in your community.
Many elderly people in our churches, neighborhoods, and communities need our help! But they probably won’t ask for it. So instead, volunteer your kids to pull weeds or rake leaves while you clean the house or wash dishes. Kids can give small gifts like their drawings, stationery and stamps, or even a basket full of snacks. Many older people would be thrilled just to have someone to talk to or someone who would take the time to listen to stories from their lives (and they especially love interacting with kids).
Here are some practical ways to serve the elderly:
- Make them a meal
- Take in their trash can
- Write them a note
- Pull weeds in their yard or clean up trash
- Walk their dog
- Mow their yard
- Spend time with them
- Sweep their sidewalk
- Rake leaves in their yard
Serving others is so important for our kids to learn to do while they are young! In this post on practical ways to serve with your kids, I walk through simple ways to serve even when you have very young children along for the ride.
6. Give out bubbles or stickers to other kids at the park.
Though some people may be less-than-receptive to your acts of kindness, very few people will resist your showing kindness to their kids. That’s a huge reason for involving our kids in loving our neighbors to start with! Maybe people will tell you, “No, thank you,” but let’s be honest, who can resist a cute little kid?
A great opportunity for our kids to show kindness to their neighbors is at the playground, where there are lots of little “neighbors” running around anyway! Let your kids make friends and show love by passing out these small bottles of bubbles or some other small trinket, like stickers, to the kids playing there. Kids love little gifts, and they love being loved!
Don’t wait for Valentine’s Day to spread the love! Daily loving others is where friendships begin (Proverbs 18:24)! For more ideas on turning neighbors into friends, check out these tips on kids’ friendships!
7. Send a gift to a missionary.
Though most of them are far away, missionaries are our neighbors too! We meet them as they visit our churches, learn about them as we read their prayer letters, and pray for them. But we tend to forget that, as they travel on furlough or live in a foreign country, acts of kindness may be quite a rare experience for these missionaries and their families.
Sending gifts like a goodie box, birthday card, or favorite book is a great way to let missionaries know we haven’t forgotten them. You can let your kids pick out crayons, coloring books, balloons, and small toys to send in the box. They can even write notes or draw pictures to include in the box. And they will learn that thinking of others and showing kindness is fun!
Need some more ideas for how to show kindness to missionaries? Check out our post on ways to pray for missionaries with your kids!
I hope these ideas inspire you to show love to those around you this month and always! I pray that showing kindness through actions will be a thriving part of your life and the lives of your children.
Through practical tools & Bible-based resources, Kim Sorgius is dedicated to helping your family GROW in faith so you can be Not Consumed by life’s struggles. Author of popular kid’s devotional Bible studies and practical homeschooling tools, Kim has a master’s degree in education and curriculum design coupled with over 2 decades of experience working with kids and teens. Above all, her most treasured job is mother and homeschool teacher of four amazing kiddos.