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Faith In Action: Short-term — Good Neighbor Coupons (15 minutes), Session 8: Do unto Others

In "Moral Tales," a Tapestry of Faith program

Materials for Activity

Short term

  • Coupons cut from Leader Resource 2: Good Neighbor Coupons for all participants
  • Pencils, pens and color markers
  • Newsprint pad

Preparation for Activity

Short term

  • Print out and photocopy Leader Resource, Good Neighbor Coupons. Make enough copies to give each child at least one coupon to fill out.
  • Since this activity begins in the session but must be completed at home, you will want to include information about it in the Taking It Home handout. You can also mention the Good Neighbor Coupons to parents picking up their children.

Description of Activity

Making "Good Neighbor Coupons" generates opportunities for children to put their learning into action. As you distribute Good Neighbor Coupons (from Leader Resource) and pencils, pens and markers to participants at to work tables, explain the activity. You may say:

We're going to brainstorm to help each other think of some people in our community (or school, family, neighborhood or congregation) that each of you could help or visit or do something nice for. We'll try to think of people who may need a helping kindness, people who we haven't thought of helping before.

Ask the children to think of ways that they could help someone in their community (or school, family, neighborhood, or congregation) whom they might not have thought about helping before — for example, an elderly neighbor, a school crossing guard or custodian, a younger sibling, or a new child in their school classroom or on their street. Suggest children think of something they could do to help that person that would take a half hour or less. Engage the children in sharing their ideas.

Tell the children to write the name of the person they want to help on the coupon. They can give the coupon to that person and let the person decide what kind of help they want. Or, the child can think of a helping kindness they want to do for that person. Some suggestions might be:

  • I will bring my dog to visit you in the nursing home.
  • I will help you fold the family's laundry.
  • I will help you recycle bottles after school.

A kindness might be sharing a new toy with a younger child or taking brownies to someone who is new to the neighborhood. If children have a specific idea, ask them to write it on the coupon. Invite children to take the coupons home and share them with their parents who can help them carry out the act of kindness. Be sure to mention the Good Neighbor Coupon project in your Taking It Home handout for this session.

Faith In Action: Long-Term – Outreach To Local Neighbors (15 minutes)


Materials for Activity

  • Newsprint

Preparation for Activity

  • Post newsprint where you can write on it and everyone can see it.
  • Look at as the book, Kids Random Acts of Kindness, or another book or online resource (see Leader Resources and Find Out More), for stories by and/or for children that demonstrate acts of caring and kindness. Choose several short examples to share with the children to help inspire their own ideas.
  • Find out about local institutions where the children could send greetings of kindness in the form of flowers or cards. These might include a prison, a rehabilitation hospital, a psychiatric or addiction recovery facility, a nursing home, a veteran’s hospital, or a homeless shelter.

Description of Activity

This long term Faith in Action project guides you to help the children reach out with kindness to local neighbors whom you do not personally know and who may be in need of inspiration and support.

Gather the children in a circle. Tell the group that the Golden Rule and “Love thy neighbor” are ideas they can put into action by reaching out to neighbors in your community.

Share briefly with the children the stories you have chosen about children who performed acts of kindness and compassion. Tell the children that there are people in your own community who may be in need of a show of kindness. If you have researched local institutional options as described above (Preparation for Activity), you can suggest a few actions of kindness that they could realistically make. Invite them to discuss the various options.

Write the ideas of each child on the newsprint. Help the group consider each one. If some of the actions do not seem realistic, thank each child for their ideas.

Suggested projects might be:
Sending greeting cards at holiday times. An example would be sending handmade valentines to a local hospital or prison and asking the institution’s workers to put one on each patient’s breakfast tray.
Collecting flowers, arranging them, decorating plastic vases and delivering the bouquets to long-term patients in psychiatric or veterans’ hospitals or nursing homes who infrequently receive flowers. (Note: Do not use glass vases.)
Collecting a new pair of socks from each family and donating these to a homeless shelter.

Follow-up steps for these three projects are presented in Session 9, Faith in Action: Outreach to Local Neighbors – Long-term.

Once you have several ideas that could work, ask the children to vote on which they prefer Discuss how the group can make their chosen act of kindness happen. Again, brainstorm a list of actions and write down the children’s ideas.

An example of a project would be send valentines to prisoners. A good plan would be for you to call to see how many inmates are in the local prison or one part of the prison, and how the valentine delivery might be arranged. You would then obtain materials and arrange a time for the children to make the appropriate number of valentines. Help the children discuss what they want to say on the valentines or if they just want to send hearts.

See Session 9, Faith in Action: Outreach to Local Neighbors for the next steps in this project.

Faith In Action: Long-Term – Outreach To World Neighbors (15 minutes)

Materials for Activity

  • Newsprint, markers and tape
  • Information you have gathered about organizations and projects for the group to consider

Preparation for Activity

  • Ask your director of religious education, your minister or members of a congregational social justice committee for information about non-local organizations the congregation already supports. If any projects involve actions that express the “love thy (non-local) neighbor” theme, invite a member who is involved to come and talk to the children about the project and help the children come up with ways that they can participate. Often our children are not aware of the actions of generosity and caring that the congregation already extends. Show the children what people they know are already doing to help them learn by example.
  • Look at the book Kids Random Acts of Kindness edited by Dawna Markova (Conari Press, 1994) or another resource book for “love thy (non-local) neighbor” project ideas.
  • Research online. The Heifer Project is widely supported by Unitarian Universalist congregations. Its Passing on the Gift program connects donors with people who need agricultural resources to improve their lives. The recipients are required to pass on some of their livestock offspring or harvest to others, who can then do the same. On the website you will find many examples of fundraising projects and a world map that shows where the hundreds of projects are happening. The children could choose, for instance, to raise funds to donate a beehive to a farmer in Asia, or a cow to a family in Africa. UNICEF USA also has many projects, such as one that supports Iraqi children, millions of whom have been displaced by the war and who lack adequate food, water and medicine. Examples from the website of what donations buy include $15, immunizations for 10 children, $109, basic family water kits which include water purification and sanitation equipment for ten families; $250, emergency health kit with basic drugs, medical supplies and equipment for 1000 Iraqi people for three months. Save the Children helps individuals and groups to sponsor children for $28 per month and supplies photos and opportunities to communicate with a sponsored child. If you feel the relationship can be sustained beyond the Moral Tales program, this option can provide a tangible connection between the children in the congregation and a “neighbor” child they are helping in another country. Doctors without Borders provides medical help and supplies in nearly 80 countries. The website offers suggestions for effective fundraisers and how to arrange for a speaker presentation, and describes what varying dollar amounts of donations can buy. Through Operation USO Care Package, the children can help the congregation sponsor a care package that can include individual messages of support. Soldiers’ Angels is an organization started by the mother of a soldier who heard that some soldiers did not receive any messages or care packages. Check the website for details. On the website of Any Soldier, Inc, learn what soldiers stationed in Iraq need and how you can contribute support and items. One interesting item the children in Moral Tales might like to collect is used beanie babies, which some soldiers like to carry to give to local children they encounter.

Description of Activity

In this non-local long-term Faith in Action project, you reinforce the idea that all people are our neighbors even if they live in another country, even if they are involved in a war, and even if our government is at war with their country.

Tell the children that the Golden Rule and “Love thy neighbor” are ideas they can put into action. Ask them to remember that our neighbors are everyone on the planet Earth, not just people who live on our street or community or belong to our congregation or go to our school.

Invite the children to help you brainstorm about some neighbors in different parts of the world who may be in need of a show of kindness or support. Tell them you have some ideas for kindness to neighbors far away, and want to know what they think. Share briefly the information you have gathered about organizations and programs you have researched, and what they do. If you have identified projects through which children could reach out to people their own age – such as the Heifer Project International – mention that, to help children identify with the recipients of the kindness they will undertake to do.

As children respond to your information and contribute their own ideas, write each idea on the newsprint. Thank each child for his/her idea and discuss every one. If something is not realistic, gently explain why it might be hard to do.

Once you have several ideas that could work, ask the children to vote on which they prefer. Once you have chosen a Golden Rule project, discuss how the children will be involved in making it happen. On a new sheet of newsprint, brainstorm a list of actions that need to be taken. Examples could be gathering new or gently used books, school supplies, or clothing, sponsoring a child, sending holiday greetings and or calling cards to soldiers or doing a bake sale to raise money for an organization.

Session 9 provides next steps in this Faith in Action project.

For more information contact web @ uua.org.

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Wednesday, October 26, 2011.

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