This month's challenge was inspired by two women whom I deeply admire, Jenn Goodin and Rachel Macy Stafford.

Jenn and I met in 2011 during my last year teaching when her daughter was assigned to my kindergarten class. Jenn's the Executive Director of Cincinnati's Ronald McDonald House, providing families of children receiving treatment at a nearby hospital with a "home away from home." When I resigned from teaching to create Giving Families, Jenn's passion for helping others was a HUGE inspiration.

Jenn (right) with Ronald McDonald and her daughter (my former student!) at a recent golf outing.

Rachel and I met online after I began reading her blog, Hands Free Mama, and commented on one of her posts. She's a New York Times best-selling author and mother of two whose mantra is "Letting Go...To Grasp What Really Matters," reminding parents to resist the day-to-day distractions that can keep us from connecting with our children.

Rachel and her works of art. 

What I admire most about these two women is their dedication to helping families come together, and stay together.

A few months ago, I was invited to review an advance copy of Rachel's newest book, Only Love Today: Reminders to Breathe More, Stress Less and Choose Love. A few days later, I ran into Jenn at an event and immediately began wondering, "How can I help these two women accomplish their missions?!?"

The end result was this month's challenge, making activity booklets for parents and siblings of children who are hospitalized:

When I told Rachel about my idea for the challenge - to use coloring pages containing quotes from her book - I was thrilled she agreed. But when her publisher, Zondervan offered to donate a copy of Rachel's book to each of the 322 Ronald McDonald House Charities worldwide, I was FLOORED!

Please click on the images below to download and print. Additional printable activity pages for kids can be found here and here. 

 

 

After printing ours out to make some books, we enjoyed taking some time to color the pages ourselves:) 

Harper and my sister, Amy coloring Rachel's quotes.

This month's challenge is especially meaningful to me because five years ago I spent a week in the hospital with my then 4-week-old son, Frank who had been diagnosed with viral meningitis and an ecoli infection. As you can imagine, those were some of the most difficult days of my life. Knowing families who are experiencing the same fears I did will have a chance to read Rachel's words of encouragement gives me great hope they'll be able to stay strong amidst the struggle. So again, many thanks to Rachel and Zondervan!

Frank at four weeks old, receiving treatments for viral meningitis and an ecoli infection.

To assemble your books, simply:

  1. Decorate handmade covers with encouraging words like, "Made with Love" or "From our family to yours..."
  2. Print out a bunch of coloring pages, mazes, kidokus and sudokus, and dot-to-dots
  3. Stack all the pages on top of each other, placing your homemade cover on top
  4. Use a hole puncher to punch ten holes along the left-hand side approximately 1" apart
  5. Use a 54" piece of yarn to weave all the pages together by inserting the yarn through the top hole, leaving approximately 10" hanging over
  6. Pull the yarn through the holes, going over/under, over/under until you reach the last hole
  7. Then, go back up through each of the holes (over/under, over/under)
  8. Tie the two 10" pieces of yarn together to create a bow
  9. Double knot the bow to keep all the pages together

When finished, your binding will look something like this: 

 

If you're tight on time, consider buying pre-made activity booklets and/or coloring books instead. I recently found several on clearance at Staples, our local office supply store.

If you want to do more, please consider sending markers, crayons and colored pencils - or other "wish list" items - along with your activity booklets. (We're going to send some gift cards to local restaurants along with our booklets so families can experience a night out.)

 

Finding the address of a Ronald McDonald House in your area is super simple. Just click "Chapter Search" here. (Once you've selected the one you're going to mail your booklets to, you can view that house's individual "wish list" by searching their site for words like "Help Our Families" or "How You Can Help".)  

 

Thanks for completing this month's activity with us, making memories with your children while making a difference in your community!

We'd love to see the homemade covers of your activity booklets! Please share photos with us on Facebook and Instagram for a chance to be featured in our mid-month mailer. (BONUS: Two families submitting photos during the month of March will be randomly selected to receive a copy of Rachel's life-changing book, Only Love Today: Reminders to Breathe More, Stress Less and Choose Love!!!) 


@GivingFamilies #GivingFamilies 

If you'd like to receive next month's Good Mail Challenge, become a member. We'll deliver it straight to your mailbox. (Because kids LOVE getting mail!) 

And, for each membership purchased during the month of March, we'll donate 10% of our proceeds to Ronald McDonald House Greater Cincinnati* (when new families join by clicking their logo below).

Looking for a unique gift idea? Send a gift membership!

*Know of an organization that could benefit from our nationwide network of giving families? Please tell us about them! Send an email to info@givingfamilies.com.
Beth Nowak is a former Kindergarten teacher and mother of two who wanted to make memories with her children while making a difference in her community. Helping other parents do the same, she left the classroom to create Giving Families' Good Mail Challenges... fun and easy, family-friendly giveback activities that can be completed anytime, anywhere using materials readily available in most homes. To learn more and join the family, visit GivingFamilies.com.