Image of a mother and daughter holding a heart on an old blue table. TWM logo and #familyservicechallenge.

Growing up I was taught to always leave a place better than I found it.

When camping my dad wouldn’t let us pack up and leave until we had scoured the surrounding area and picked up all the trash, even if it wasn’t ours. When playing with friends we made sure to clean up any messes we’d made before getting to go home. If we saw garbage on the street as we were walking by, we picked it up and found a trashcan.

I’d love to say that this mantra has affected all areas of my life, but there are days when I look around my house and wonder when the bomb exploded and how I didn’t notice it before. Housekeeping aside, this phrase has really stuck with me, and I try to apply it to more than just garbage and clutter. I always try to find ways to leave the world better than I found it.

As a young mom it wasn’t always apparent that I needed to teach my children, not just by example but with learning opportunities, the values that I wanted them to develop.


A few years ago, we were on vacation in Park City and stopped at the Tanger Outlets to do a little family shopping (I know, I know, family and shopping are two words that really don’t complement each other).  We were getting ready to leave J Crew, and I had the two older kids and my strollered little one corralled near the front doors while my husband finished his purchase. While standing there a mom holding a little girl’s hand and pushing an infant in a stroller walked up to the entrance. Anyone who has pushed a stroller and tried to open a door at the same time, knows that it’s not the easiest task. Add in another little hand to keep track of and it makes it a step beyond difficult.

I saw her need for assistance right away and kept motioning (as the loud music made it difficult to verbally communicate) for my oldest to go open the door for her. However, being six at the time, my charades flew right over his head. Just then, my husband walked over, and I was able to walk away from the stroller and open the door for her. I felt so disappointed that my son couldn’t see the opportunity right in front of his eyes to help someone in need. I decided in that moment that I needed to do a better job of teaching him, and my other kids, to see the world around them and to pay attention so that they could leave the world a better place than they found it.

I love this time of year. The lights, the music, even the snow, make the world seem soft and cozy. People are opening their hearts and focusing outward. They are actively looking for ways to do good.

So I would like to take that good heartedness and harness it into something amazing. I am issuing a challenge to every family, in every race, religion, and culture.  In an effort to make the world a better place we invite you to take part in the #familyservicechallenge. Here are the guidelines to participate:

1. Formally accept the challenge through video via Facebook or Instagram and tag 5 other families to participate. 2. Post the video and tag the families in the comments using the following hashtags: #famileyservicechallenge and #bethegood. 3. Every day, from Thanksgiving (or within 48 hours of being tagged) until Christmas Eve, do something kind for someone else as a family. Remember, it can be small or large—all types of service can help others! 4. Post to a social media platform (Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook) as often as you can, everyday if possible and use #familyservicechallenge and #bethegood hashtags. 5. If you want to participate but haven't been tagged, tag yourself. 6. If you can't accept the challenge, then donate to one of the charities listed below and tag 5 families to participate (See Step 2).

TWM Recommended Charities

If you are unable to participate, please consider donating to a TWM recommended charities.  All of these charities are amazing organizations that try to make the world a better place than they found it. Here is a little bit about each one.

One Heart Bulgari's logo.

One Heart Bulgaria: Thousands of children in the overcrowded and under-funded orphanages of Bulgaria are currently suffering from lack of attention, basic amenities, nutritious food and a hope for their future. One Heart Bulgaria’sgoals are to provide for immediate, critical needs and build an infrastructure that will ensure long-term social, emotional, and physical health for the children it serves. The results of OHB’s efforts will be children and young adults who have the opportunity to develop and reach their potential in a healthy and supportive environment, enabling them to become happy and successful members of Bulgarian society.

undergound railroad_logo

Operation Underground Railroad: Operation Underground Railroad has gathered the world’s experts in extraction operations and in anti-child trafficking efforts to bring an end to child slavery. O.U.R.’s Underground Jump Team consists of former CIA, Navy SEALs, and Special Ops operatives that lead coordinated identification and extraction efforts. These operations are always in conjunction with law enforcement throughout the world.

big brothers big sisters_logo

Big Brothers, Big Sisters: For more than a century, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America has provided children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported, one-to-one mentoring relationships that change their lives for the better, forever.

operation smile_logo

Operation Smile: Operation Smile is an international medical charity that has provided hundreds of thousands of free surgeries for children and young adults in developing countries who are born with cleft lip, cleft palate or other facial deformities. It is one of the oldest and largest volunteer-based organizations dedicated to improving the health and lives of children worldwide through access to surgical care.


It is my wish to see this movement gain momentum, but we can’t do it without you. Let’s all band together. Let’s teach our children to open their eyes to the world around them. Let’s help them and commit ourselves to be kind and to find ways to offer service to those around us. Let’s work to make this world a better place than we found it.


Mykee Saunders' Signature

Mom and Gray 1 yr

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.



  1. These are great ways to give back and spread kindness! It’s so important to teach out children to be kind to others and help out when needed. I look forward to doing it more often during the holiday season.

    1. Brittany, we’ve found that we are happier when we are helping others. That is why we created the #familyservicechallenge. We’d love for you to spread the word!

    1. Alyssa, It’s one of my favorite things to do as well. It is one of the reasons we created the #familyservicechallenge. We’d love for you to participate and spread the word!

  2. I knew this post was a gonna be great when you started with the saying to leave things better than you found it. I love that. My teacher used to say it all the time and she even made it a point that every time she went grocery shopping she would pick up one piece of trash. Anyway, I love the idea of this challenge!

    1. Thank you so much Gabrielle, I am so glad you liked it. We are hoping to make an impact with this challenge. It is something the world needs. Thanks for reading!

  3. This is such a great idea and I really hope more people can take up this movement and get it started and going. We could all do with a whole lot of kindness for one another.

  4. I love this Mykee! My family will too- especially love that they will benefit from seeing others benefit- and I’ll be better at providing opportunities for service 😊

    1. Tessa, I am so glad you are on board! I am so excited to see and hear about people’s experiences and how it affects their kids and their holiday season!

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