Snow Globe Moments | Reflections on Service & Travel
By Mykee Saunders
Our family recently road tripped it to San Diego. We went the week following Thanksgiving, which meant we were traveling during the first week of the #familyservicechallenge. While service is not usually at the forefront of most people’s minds before and during a vacation, it can be one of the most powerful ways for families to connect. What better time to make deep value driven impressions, that will impact your kids for years, than by taking daily moments to purposefully look outward.
Travel service opportunities might look like everyday scenes, but the difference is that vacations tend to pressurize your experiences transforming them into snow globe moments that your family can take out, shake up, and look back on fondly.
While I do advocate service, so the world can be left better than we found it, sharing these moments can be tough. It is for me! The goal in sharing these stories is not to brag. It is my hope that the more we talk about service the more it will be thought about; if it is thought about, it will be done.
Here are a few thoughts to inspire your own acts of service.
Sometimes It’s the Little Things
It was the week after Thanksgiving, and the Salvation Army workers were out with their bells and red collection buckets. My kids love asking me for change for just about anything. They excitedly clank coins into those shiny red receptacles simply because they enjoy dropping money into them. However, it was interesting to see their newfound respect and desire to really help others, rather than the previous self-gratifying clink of coins in metal slots, after I explained what the red bucket represented.
These moments of impact aren’t just for kids, however, as my personal favorite Salvation Army experience occurred when I left a store with a few dollars to intentionally put in a manned bucket. I looked the bell ringer in the eye and smiled as I made my donation. He said Merry Christmas and I, still looking in his lonely eyes, responded in kind with a smile just for him. His countenance brightened as his dark face smiled back, and I noticed his shoulders straighten as he stood just a little bit taller. Standing in the middle of streams of people while ringing a bell, someone had seen him. I didn’t know, as I walked away how much his reaction would affect me, and I must dab tears from my eyes as I recall it. That moment may have touched him, but it left an impression on my heart. Sometimes it’s the littlest things that can make the most impact.
For more ideas, check out “160 Small Acts of Kindness to do With Your Family.”
Helping the Homeless
We often meet people panhandling on the streets or searching for help. I know gifting money is a controversial topic in these situations. These days you hear about scammers flying signs or addicts needing cash to get their next fix. It is sad when the few make it hard for those needing charity. In a recent survey in San Francisco researchers observed that 94% of panhandlers use donations to buy food. My kids always notice people asking for money, and I love seeing the compassion in their eyes as they feel the desire to help.
My personal philosophy goes something like this: It’s my responsibly to choose to help; it’s their business what they choose to do with it.
Of course, no one loves the idea of their hard-earned money going into the pocket of a drug dealer or a capable person preventing a true need from being met. Remember, most panhandlers are sincerely looking for food. That is why we give panhandlers $5 or $10 gift cards to local food chains, such as Subway.
This powerful video demonstrates how sometimes those who have less give more. Not only does this homeless man immediately purchase basic groceries with the money he receives, he instantly gives them up to help someone else.
If you don’t have the extra cash to spend, donate your time. Every city has a soup kitchen and picking a day for the family to serve others can do wonders in changing negative teenage attitudes.
If you want to increase your family bonds through an organized service project while you are away, you can find opportunities at justserve.org. Simply type in the zip code of the area where you will be staying.
We would love to hear your personal stories of service in the comments below. Remember, the more we talk about service the more it will be thought about; if it is thought about, it will be done. Because traveling is so betwixt and between everyday life, it lends us that unique opportunity to create these snow globe memories.
Mykee is the Owner/Founder of Traveling With Monkeys. As a writer and mom of four who loves to travel, Mykee designed this website to share tips, tricks, and destinations for meaningful family adventures. She is passionate about service and recently spearheaded the #familyservicechallenge movement.