Category Archives: Community Helpers

Homemade Christmas

We usually make homemade cards and gifts to share during Christmas for our neighbors, friends, and community helpers. 

Her are a few simple ideas to help you do an activity like this. You and your kids can be as creative as you want.   With just a few inexpensive supplies, you can make cards and gifts that turn out unique and special.  One great thing about doing this is that it is easy for kids of all ages to participate. 

Homemade Christmas


I set out scraps of wrapping paper, recyclables from other crafts, glue, construction paper, scissors, crayons, colored pencils, stickers, ribbon, etc in the center of the table.  The kids cut out things from the scraps of leftover pieces of wrapping paper and glued them to folded construction paper.  They also drew pictures, added a few stickers, wrote messages, and glued on a computer printed picture of the kids all together.


These were the cutest homemade Christmas cards and so easy to make.  Some of the cards they made had a snow theme and they used blue paper and white and silver or foil snowflakes.  Some of the cards they made had a gift theme with presents and trees and red ribbon.  Some of the cards they made had an angel theme and they cut out white angles and glued them onto red paper.   

It usually takes a few afternoons cooking and making cards to share.  For several of the gifts, we made chocolate chip cookies and no bake cookies.  

For the no bake cookies we put them into clear plastic cups to protect them from breaking. 

Then we covered the cups with small clear plastic bags and tied on ribbons and foil snow flakes.  We used white ribbon on some, and red ribbon on others. The kids enjoyed making gifts to share.

Remember Your Community Helpers

Community helpers get to know many families in a local area, in different ways by providing services families need.   For example, a community extension agent helps families gain life skills for a better quality of life like teaching nutrition, leadership, and sewing classes, 4H clubs for kids, helping you raise a garden, or identify trees or plants in your yard, etc.  a garbage man collects your trash and recyclables each week, and a mail carrier brings a family their personal mail and packages five or six (out of seven) days a week. Doctors and nurse help those who are sick.  Hospice helps with those who are dying.  Red Cross, Salvation Army, local churches, and food pantries help with financial difficulties and disaster relief.  

Each community has lots of community helpers, many are paid positions, but many are volunteers too.  Even though you may not encounter all of the community helpers in your local community, and if you do their contact with your home might be very brief, it is still significant.  You certainly would spend a fortune to thank them all with cards and gifts and that is not practical, and I am not suggesting that.  But I am suggesting to pick a few, perhaps the ones you have had a lot of contact with over the past year, or even for a few months, and let them know you appreciate them.  

Sometimes it might be easy or sometimes it might be hard to get to know your community helpers.  For example, when you live where you can easily see your mailbox or trash cans from your dwelling, it is easier to get to know your mail carrier or garbage man.  It is much harder to get to know them if you live where you can’t see them when they are ate your dwelling, such as if you live in an apartment building where there is a community mail box on only one floor, or if you live down a long lane where you may seldom see the mail carrier or garbage man, or if the garbage man comes at night.  It is not always possible to get to know some community helpers.     

When we lived in NC, our mail carrier’s name was Robin and she became a sweet friend over the five years we lived there.  We could easily see the mail box from our front door and the kids were so excited when they would see her coming down the road and delivering mail to all the mail boxes in the neighborhood.  Robin loved the children and always greeted them warmly.  She loved learning about them and their homeschool projects.  Many of the packages she brought to the house included curriculum or project supplies for things the kids were making in their school work and she was always eager to learn what they were doing.  She even gave them candy on a regular basis.  You can read more about our mail carrier Robin in the story P Is For Postcard.   The kids were thrilled to bless our mail carrier with their homemade Christmas project.  They left her gift in the mail box so when she opened the mailbox she would get a special surprise!

Check out what the kids did for the garbage man, one of their most favorite community helpers. They also made gifts for the local 4H and county extension agent, their clubs and activity leaders, youth pastors at church, and many neighbors too.


An activity like this is beneficial in so many ways. Besides the social skills aspect of talking with people and thanking them, there are lots of other skills one can practice too.  The kids get to practice creativity, fine and gross motor skills while creating their cards (cutting, gluing, folding, drawing), they practice writing skills too.  My kids also practiced math, reading, and life skills baking and following recipes.

It is important to teach kids to appreciate community helpers. It is important to teach kids about showing gratitude and hospitality too.  

Appreciation and Gratitude Are Skills Too

This Christmas was very different for us, as the funds were tight and we have had to rely on the generosity of others.  We could not buy supplies to make fun stuff this Christmas.  We also came down sick in the weeks leading up to Christmas, and while having fevers and respiratory issues, we honestly didn’t feel very cheerful or excited to make lots of things.  But we are grateful for what others have done for us, for what we have, and for each other.  We wanted to convey our gratitude.

Even if you only have a little, you can double (multiply) or cut in half (divide) something your are making for your own family, and you can give it to others and let them know you appreciate them.

We did not buy any special ingredients, but used only what we had on hand.  Some of these ingredients were given to us to feed our family, and some of the ingredients were things we had on hand in the pantry (like cocoa, yeast, sprinkles, and food coloring).

We made a list of possible things we could make, and we also had some apple butter we made earlier in the fall from the trees on our homestead that we could give.  Finally the kids voted and decided to make homemade sugar cookies, chocolate chunk cookies, hot cocoa mix, and homemade bread to give away and thank people in our community (community helpers, pastor, family, and daddy’s coworkers).   

One thing I wanted to convey to my kids was that there are many community helpers that are probably seldom appreciated.  It really makes their day to receive appreciation from families they have served through out the past year.  


Do you know your community helpers?  How do you feel about giving cards or gifts to your mail carrier, garbage man, or other helpers in your community?  If you do related activities, please share examples of what you do to show your community helpers you appreciate how they serve your family. 


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Merry Christmas Mr. Garbage Man

We love the people who help out in our community.  There are so many different things people do to take care of the needs of a community.  But our Garbage Man is a special favorite community helper. 

This is our fourth Christmas in this house (our fifth Christmas in North Carolina), and we have had the same garbage man all four years.  He often takes time to talk with the children for just a minute in his busy day.   He has a special place in our hearts.  Many times the children have shared cookies and treats with him as our way of saying thank you for his hard work and dedication.   They are always courteous and thank him for collecting our trash.  He seems deeply surprised and pleased that our children treat him so kind and with such admiration.  I am sure he is not often thanked for the work he does. 

Each week the children anxiously wait for him to arrive and they run to the front porch to wave and say hi when he stops in front of our house.   They wait on the porch or at the front door until he leaves and they wave goodbye. 

He always waves goodbye to them.  Then a few minutes later they run to the back of the house and watch through the window as he drives to a nearby subdivision and collects garbage there.  A few minutes later he travels down the road behind our house and they get one last glimpse of him.  If it is a nice day and we are outside in the back yard playing, or eating a picnic lunch in the yard, they wave goodbye to him a second time. 

Our family made special Christmas cards and gifts this year for our community helpers.  We wanted to let them know how much we appreciate them.  Each card was different and personal.  I was so proud of the cards the kids made for everyone. 


We used a variety of colors of construction paper to make the outside of the cards.  Some cards had additional papers glued into the inside, others did not.  The kids used markers, crayons, pencils, and stamps depending on what card they were making.  We used a variety of wrapping papers and cut out different Christmas themed shapes and pictures.   Some of the cards included a picture of all of the kids together, others included a drawing or craft the kids had made.  I will share more pictures of cards and gifts they made in another Christmas themed story.


For the Garbage Man, the children cut and pasted wrapping paper ornaments onto a homemade card.  They used markers to write a special message.  Then they attatched an additional paper inside the card where they drew a picture of him collecting our garbage and thanked him and in the top of the card they wrote a special verse just for him.  They made fudgey “no bake” chocolate oatmeal cookies and wrapped them up very pretty to give him. 

As soon as he arrived they darted out of the house to greet him.  And yes, the kids are in shorts, in December. It is amazing to me how warm the winter is here. We have very few cold days and we can often wear shorts even in December and January.  Sometimes it is chilly in the morning, but by the time lunch time rolls around, it is comfortable temperatures again.  I would never dream of doing that in Indiana or Kansas this time of year. But it is normal here in this section of the Blue Ridge Mountains on the edge of NC and SC. The temperatures stay very mild for most of the year.  Anyway, they showered him with appreciation, and blessings for the coming year.

                     Thank you for all you do Mr Garbage Man.   We appreciate you. 

                    Merry Christmas Mr. Garbage Man!

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No Time For Flash Cards
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Fire Safety Workshop

We had 70 homeschoolers meet in the park for fun playtime and learning adventures today.  

Take Action Tuesday hosted a Fire Safety Workshop today with the Blue Ridge Fire and Rescue Department.

Chief Gary Brown explained lots of stuff about emergencies, fires, and fire safety to the kids.

Some of the things he shared with us today:

Blue Ridge Fire and Rescue

Is the biggest and busiest local fire department in Henderson County.
Average of 2,000 emergency calls a year.
Busiest day was 17 calls in one day.
Have had firemen with injuries over the years, but no fatalities for the fire fighters
in their fire station. 
The Chief has a tough job deciding when to send fire fighters into a rescue situation, or if it is too dangerous, or if no one is expected to be alive, wait and send the fire fighters in to a recovery situation.
Fire department is called to all wrecks and uses the “Jaws Of Life” to cut people out of bad wrecks where they are trapped.  They call for a helicopter ambulance to life line the injured to the hospital after using the jaws of life to get them out.  It takes about 25 minutes to rescue using the jaws of life, and 8 minutes to life line them to the hospital.  Most folks only have a window of less than one hour to get serious emergency medical help to live following a serious accident (called the GOLDEN HOUR), so using a helicopter helps them make it through the small window of time, and increases the number of people who survive.

Some of the other things firemen do:

Search for lost people, including the elderly and children who have wandered off.
Rescue pets
Fire Prevention Programs in schools and homeowners associations.
Tip: If you get lost, “HUG A TREE”.  That means if you get lost, stay in one place so the search team can find you.

Fire Safety:

Don’t play with matches or lighters.
Don’t play near the kitchen stove.
Call 911 if there is a fire.
Practice a Family Emergency and Fire Plan
Do not go under a bed or into a closet if there is a fire.
If there is smoke, crawl on the ground to a door so you don’t breath in the smoke in the room.
Always feel a door before opening it.  If it is hot, do not open it and go out a window instead.
Establish a meeting place outside for everyone to meet at if the house is on fire.
Don’t go back in a burning building for anything!
If you catch on fire, STOP, DROP, and ROLL.
Be sure your home has working smoke detectors.
A house can burn from 1,200 degrees to 4,000 degrees fahrenheit.
Firemen wear an alarm on their uniform, and it goes off if the fireman has not moved for 10 seconds. This helps other firemen find them in the smoke.

He gave the kids and parents lots of time to ask questions.  Then he took the families out to his truck.

He explained the tools, equipment, and gear on the fire truck, etc.

He demonstrated how the fire fighters put on their uniforms, and their oxygen tanks so they can breath, despite the smoke and fire in a building.

A fireman has to wear a lot of protective, and useful gear to fight the fire and rescue people trapped inside the burning building.

He explained the different gear and tools stored on the truck and how they are used to fight the fire or rescue someone in a dangerous situation such as in a car wreck. 

One amazing fact about this fire truck is that it stores 700 gallons of water and also has a pump to get water from other trucks that specifically carry water.  (I believe I heard him say the truck can pump 2,000 gallons of water a minute if needed, but they don’t usually turn the pressure that high as it can injure a fireman to try to control the hose at such high pressure.)

He opened the truck for kids to see where the firemen sit.  This truck transports 4 firemen and all their gear, plus lots of hoses and tools and equipment needed by additional firemen on the scene.  Many of the items are needed by volunteer fire fighters who also get the emergency call, and rush out to the scene in their own cars or trucks to help.

Next, he let the kids climb up and see the inside.

Learning by doing is what really makes a difference for kids in their understanding and what they remember. 

I just love it when the kids get the opportunity to touch what they are learning about, and try things out.

Two emergencies came over the radio and Chief Brown had to pack up and go to help.    He explained the emergencies to the kids as they came over the radio.  One was a car wreck, and one was a child poisoning.  The child was in the home and got into adult medications and this poisoned his body and he needed emergency medical help.  So off he went to assist his team.   He sounded his siren as he drove his truck out of the parking lot.

Chief Brown brought boxes full of goodies for the families to take home t
o further the childrens learning. 

Each of the children received a coloring book, a pencil case (filled with pencil, eraser, notepad, ruler, sticker, and a bookmark), a fire fighter hat, and some fire safety brochures.

In addition to a great workshop, the kids had plenty of playtime in the park with their friends.

This just brings such a smile to my face.  I enjoy watching the children play and visit together.

Moms got lots of support, and time to visit together too.

Some families packed a picnic lunch, others headed home for lunch.

It was a beautiful fall day.

Chief Brown has agreed to come again and bring a Fire House Trailer for further learning.  In the Fire Trailer kids will learn hands on fire safety with a fireplace, outlets, kitchen stove, bedroom, smoke detectors, and a room full of smoke to practice getting low to the ground and feeling their way to safety.

A Special Thank You to Chief Brown and the Blue Ridge Fire and Rescue Department for sharing your knowledge and time with us today.

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No Time For Flash Cards
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