Looking Back on Giving Back

“Good Deeds Week, 2011” was a big success! Thanks to those of you who participated by volunteering with your little ones at events, by participating at home, by donating to our online drives.  We may not have a had a great turn-out at all of our official “Good Deeds Week” events, but that wasn’t really the point. The point was to give back in little ways, to teach the children who did participate about how THEY can make a difference in peoples’ lives and in the world by loving, caring, and sharing. The point was to bring families closer together through these suggested activities and events, helping to inspire a spirit of unity in giving back for the future, as a family, and as growing citizens. I feel proud that Michael James and Ellie got so much out of it, and deeply honored that even just a handful of other children did as well.
The gold star definitely goes to sweet “Super-Nanny” Miss Sherri of University Park who embraced “Good Deeds Week” to the fullest with her two little charges, Keaton (3) and Farren (1). They came to sing at the nursing home, they drove across town to donate to our lemonade stand and put cans in the canoe. They even made homemade cookies and delivered them to their neighborhood fire department where Keaton got to “drive” a fire truck! Allow me to share this kind note I received from Sherri at the close of the week, yet another “good deed” that really brightened my day…
I just wanted to let you know how inspirational you were this past week.  I have to admit that I was really dreading yet another week in the doldrums of summer, two weeks before everyone is in school!  AAHHH!  Yes,  it is tough even for nannies!  I wake up at 5:30 just to give myself an extra 20 minutes to prepare for the day.  I asked God to give me the ability to give my family as well as the Brooks family love, caring, understanding, and inspiration.  Lo and behold, by Friday I was able to say that, with Gods help, I did it! Making the decision to do something for others created such a happy and caring environment for everyone. Thank you so much for all that you do!  Alaina and I were talking about you and your blog and how it helps us so much.  She said, “Lowry is one of the most special people who I have met.”  I agree.
Sherri Fry
Mom to Elizabeth, Nanny to Keaton and Farren

I have to say, as a definite “ENFP” on the Meyers-Brigg’s personality test, I really needed those words of affirmation! I did have my moments of “Why am I going to all of this trouble last week?“, and regularly have those thoughts about my blogging efforts, but your kind words make it all worth it! Thank you, Sherri and Alaina. (What the heck am I talking about? Take the test.)

Here’s the run-down on all our Good Deeds!

  • Saturday, 5 of us joined lots of other great folks and families at the Second Saturday Spruce-Up event at White RockLake (i.e. Mommy Manders, Ellie and MJ Manders, Drew, my teenage helper, and one loving grandmother!) God smiled on us with cloudy, misty, cooler weather, and it was a delightful morning. My kids were super-excited about the free T-shirts, donuts, and chocolate milk, which they enjoyed while

    MJ's trash treasures

    perusing the shelves of interesting “treasures” found over the years at the lake. I was thankful for some outdoor time with the kids for a change. I explained how important the de-littering work was to protect the animals in and around the lake, and MJ obviously got the message, as he kept saying that the ducks were quacking their thanks to him. Ellie helped me spot trash with her “sharp eyes” from up in Mommy’s great Ergo backpack.  Both enjoyed a little break at a playground where MJ found some very special Christmas treasures which he has

    enjoying popsicles at the park

    proudly displayed on his own shelf. That afternoon we drove across town to Preston Hollow Park to collect “Pennies for Parks”, and raised $36 and change for the

    dry ice experiment

    Dallas Parks Foundation (hey, that’s enough to fix a swing or paint a bench!)  Nobody showed up for the event, but MJ got the folks who were at the park anyway to donate, and we shared popsicles with them in return. He certainly got lots of salesmanship and leadership training through these activities! Then, we had scientific fun at home with the dry ice from the cooler. 

  • Sunday, Daddy and Michael James cooked a delicious shrimp dinner and a chocolate cake for GareBear’s birthday dinner! MJ had selected and studied this particular Julia Child recipe from her DVD for

    Julia Child's "Queen of Sheba Chocolate Cake"

    several days in preparation. We made enough of the meal to take some to our neighbors down the street, too. (Their 2-year-old son was headed to the hospital Monday for his monthly chemo treatment, so we knew they’d appreciate the meal.) Michael James also created his own “chocolate broth” recipe on the stove which he was eager for all of us to taste at the table. It included a wide variety of distinct flavors like cocoa powder, lime zest, sea salt, vanilla, almond extract, water, honey, though somehow NOT the shrimp shells (Thank God!). Needless to say, the chocolate broth was not the best part of the meal from a taste perspective, but still a good learning/ giving/ sharing experience.

  • Monday was the Lemonade Stand for Alex’s Lemonade (Childhood Cancer Research). Michelle Chase of “Wee Volunteer” and her two lovely assistants (daughters Mae and Marie Claire) set up a beautiful stand Monday evening at Northaven Gardens in North Dallas. Michael James and I set up a stand just down the street during what had to have been the hottest part of the day, 4:30-6:30, and God sent no clouds or rain this time….nor did God send an afternoon nap for MJ in preparation for our task. Oh well, we did our hot and tired best. Just when I thought we wouldn’t be able to handle the task alone (sleepy MJ more interested in playing in the dirt in the shade than flagging down cars in the sun, and drivers not quite compelled to stop for a grown woman’s lemonade stand), a faithful Mommy showed up with her 2 sons to help. Julian, an energetic 5-year-old even brought his own homemade poster and lemonade, and baby Conor smiled and waved from his stroller! Then neighbor Sam (4) came along to assist, and with yellow balloon hats, posters, charming smiles, and shouting voices, these 3 big boys persuaded many drivers to slow down or even turn around and stop. (They also were excellent “quality control” taste-testers, and later were just a little distracted by a new game – toss the lemons up into the tree and see if we can knock any branches down!) Later, Sam’s little brother Cooper (2) came out to enjoy some lemonade, not understanding we had dedicated our stand to him, to honor his brave and ongoing fight against leukemia.  We raised a total of $231 at our 2 stands in Dallas, and $110 online.

Sam and Cooper

    Who’s idea was this to stay home with the kids ALL day???  (Okay, so D cheated a little and ran an errand with MJ to get him out of the house a bit.) But we did keep the lights off all day, cooking in the dark, discovering just how much natural light we get by opening all of the blinds, dining by candlelight. The kids liked it so much that it might just become a tradition. (At least it will help us think more about energy conservation every day.) One HP family spent part of the day boxing up some old clothes to give away, and also returned a lost dog to the neighbors in the spirit of “Good Deeds Week”. Here’s what another mommy had to say on Facebook about the day:
Ok. So, we had to drive to pick up our organic co-op produce this morning, but I figure the fact that we buy and use organic fruits and veggies off-sets the fuel emissions. We spent the rest of the day painting, studying viscosity with water and corn syrup (thank you Lab at Lakewood!!) and eating cookies and popsicles (and of course, our organic fruits and veggies!). We turned our thermostats to 78 degrees, but have used lights tonight:( But NO BATHS!! until tomorrow!:)
  • We made “The World’s Greatest Cookies” (Mommy’s favorite: oatmeal with butterscotch and chocolate chips) while we

    MJ shares cookies with Mr. Kim, our dry cleaner

    were stuck at home, put them in little baggies with stickers ready to hand out on our errands the next few days. We delivered them to our dry cleaners, the bagger at the grocery store, Ellie’s teachers, and MJ proudly gave some to the dishwasher repairman who came by.

  • Wednesday we had 14 wonderful children (babies – 8-year-olds) show up (with their wonderful mommies and nannies and grandpas) to sing and dance and smile at Presbyterian Village North.  They enjoyed making cards, passing them out, singing favorite songs like “Wheels on the Bus”, playing and sharing instruments, and bringing LOTS of joy! I was so proud of them all, especially my little ones who were so comfortable passing out hugs and smiles at the end. MJ and I had a little power struggle over who exactly was the music teacher in charge, but I did appreciate his leadership skills, just not all the ways that they manifested in the moment (eg. deciding it was time for everyone to have drums while we were singing “This Little Light of Mine”.)  Poor little guy needs a country to lead or something…maybe a broadway show to produce. Stay tuned…this is an event we will definitely repeat, as it just fills everyone’s tanks up with love!
  • Thursday was our “CAN we fill the CANoe with CANS?” Canned Food Drive for the North Texas Food Bank. The answer was, “Well, not quite.” But if you consider all the cans that the Zenick boys purchased online and imagine them in the canoe, it would have made a difference…Their $50 donated online translates into 150 meals, and that’s pretty awesome! Several families gave their children the chance to experience the giving by bringing them out to White Rock Paddle, and letting the kids place the cans in the canoe. They got free thermoses, lollipops, and coupons for a canoe ride! MJ helped me deliver the goods to a neighborhood drop-off location for the NTFB, and was very impressed by all the cans, clothes, toys, and supplies for people in need. He came home and set aside some really random items that he wants to take back there for families who “need” them (stickers and paper and craft supplies stashed in an empty chip bag, several foam shape blocks placed in a tennis ball container “so they can play a toss or sorting game”, and lots of Ellie’s books, of course. Mommy has started her own hidden stash of more appropriate kids’ stuff to donate, but they’ll never know!)
  • Friday’s Book Drive was lots of fun! The Chase girls, along with help from their crafty mommy Michelle and some friends decorated 2 cardboard boxes with illustrations from children’s books, and they looked beautiful! That was a good deed in itself. The library was so excited about the fundraiser that they donated a big stack, too! We’re hoping for more….My kids and I picked out some favorite books that they like to read with their Daddy to donate for the Daddy (and Mommy) troops to read and record to their far-away children through the USO’s great program. MJ chose Dr. Seuss’s “Oh, Say Can You Say?” and Ellie donated “Green Eggs and Ham”. I picked out some sentimental ones like “Because of You” and “I Love My Daddy Because…”, and because of the book drive have just been more thankful for the time I have reading to my kids with their little bodies in my lap, and more mindful of those hard-working families in the armed forces that sacrifice so much for us. (I can hardly think about it without crying…I just don’t know how they do it.)
  • Saturday’s School Supply Drive: Not many folks showed up to donate school supplies in the little red wagon at Fuddrucker’s, but even if was just Michelle’s 2 little girls who each took the time to fill a backpack for another child, all 4 of those children will be touched and taught by this act of love and kindness. But I would argue that all the customers who even saw the wagon and supplies were touched and taught by the lesson of love and kindness, by the example of these giving children, and perhaps went out inspired to do some other good deed for someone. After all, What I know for sure is….when it comes to values of love and kindness, sharing and caring, as the Good Book says, “A little child shall lead them. Thank you, children, for showing us the way.


  1. Tamara says:

    I think this was such a great idea and am sorry we didn’t get to participate. We were on vacation and not really keeping up with the world enough to even do anything online. I hope you’ll do it again next year:-)

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  1. […] for fun volunteer family events during “Good Deeds Week” Dallas 2012, Aug.18th-25th. (See the good deeds we did last year) Stay tuned to Mommy Manders for more […]