Giving Families' Good Mail Challenge for February 2017

This month's challenge was inspired by an experience I had with my five-year-old son, Frank back in December. After he'd been attending kindergarten for almost six months, I received that dreaded note from his school nurse saying his medical file was incomplete. You know the stated that I'd failed to submit proof of his eye exam and dental check-up prior to the start of the school year. More importantly, his vaccinations weren't up to date. 

Frank in his favorite Chewbacca pajamas.

I immediately scheduled an appointment at the pediatrician's office but, for obvious reasons, I hesitated to tell Frank he needed to get shots.

When we arrived at the doctor's office a few days later, the nurse who checked us in explained she, too, had a young son. This prompted Frank to begin asking questions about whether or not he plays Pokemon Go. Within seconds, they were comparing captured Pokemon on our phones, and Frank was totally at ease.

When I realized it was almost time for him to get the shots however, I started to sweat - a lot - knowing I was probably going to have to restrain him. 

When all was said and done, Frank was absolutely furious at me. He felt so betrayed and kept yelling, "Why'd you do that to me?! Why'd you do that to me?!?

If looks could kill, I would be dead.

I tried to tell him the shots were important...that they'd keep him from getting sick...that they HAD to be done...but then I realized, my words had never been backed up by action because my children have never seen me get a shot. Ever.

A few days later, I got a call from Hoxworth Blood Center, our neighborhood blood bank, reminding me it was time to donate blood again (I'm O+, which is pretty common, so I try to give regularly). 

Hoxworth's seven centers in the Greater Cincinnati-area are just a few of the many blood centers nationwide providing blood and blood products to surrounding hospitals. I love what their website says, "Blood donation is one of the few ways that you can literally 'give of yourself' to make a difference in someone else's life."

That's when I came up with the idea for this month's challenge, which is to donate cookies for people who've just donated blood and, if time (or courage:) permits, for parents to donate blood, saving a life while modeling bravery for their children:

My friend, Samantha over at Raddish, a cooking club for kids, provided us with the recipe for chocolate sprinkle cookies, which is absolutely DELICIOUS! We modified it slightly, however, as I didn't realize I was out of cocoa powder. (Turns out hot cocoa powder works just as well:) 

If you're tight on time, consider buying pre-made cookies instead, like your favorite box (or two!) of Girl Scout cookies. To find a sale in your area, visit, and then type your zip code in the purple box. 

If you want to do more, please consider donating blood when delivering your cookies. There are millions of reasons people chose to do so, but here are just a few reasons submitted by recent donors: 

Not sure where your neighborhood blood bank is? Click here to find one in your area.

Can't find one in your area? Contact the Red Cross; they have mobile units and will come to your work, church or school to host a blood drive.

The first time I ever gave blood was in high school, and I've been giving ever since. 

Unbeknownst to me however, my husband, Andy had NEVER given blood before, so he tagged along and gave blood too! 

While he tried to play it cool, he was a bit nervous...especially with the kids watching. But the "4-square breath" technique helped calm his nerves. If you (or your children) have a fear of needles, try tracing the sides of a square in your mind as you control your breathing like this: 

  • BREATHE IN for 4 seconds
  • HOLD for 4 seconds
  • BREATHE OUT for 4 seconds
  • HOLD for 4 seconds
  • And then repeat. (Repeating is important:)

If you think seeing someone give blood before you go would help, check out this short video. (WARNING: It shows a needle insertion.)

Whether you decide to give blood or not, we hope you'll have fun baking cookies for this month's challenge. And remember, we'd love to see your cookies! Please share your photos with us on Facebook and Instagram. 

@GivingFamilies #GivingFamilies 

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

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

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

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