Share the Love: 5 Easy Ways for Children to Help Our Community

In the midst of a pandemic, our community was also devastated by a derecho. If there ever was a time to give some extra love, it’s right here and right now!

In honor of Valentine’s day, here are 5 easy ways you can include your children in sharing the love right here in the Cedar Rapids area:

Share the Love 5 Ways for Children to Show Love to the Community1. Marion Cares

Marion Cares provides families with advocacy, connections, and services to meet their basic needs. With kids back at school, Marion Cares is receiving more requests from the school counselors about students in need of winter snow gear. This is a basic need not only to keep students warm but to also give an equitable opportunity for students to fully participate in recess. In order to be able to play in the snow at recess, children need to have snow boots, snow pants, and mittens/gloves. Recess is so good for the mental health of students, especially during this difficult time!

Share the Love!

  • Check out Marion Cares Amazon Wishlist and have your child choose some needed winter items you can order have shipped straight to Marion Cares.
  • Or, shop locally and deliver to Marion Cares at 1050 McGowan Blvd in Marion. (You can call 319-377-5344 to see what the greatest need is and line up a time to take in your donation.)

2. A Senior Care Facility Near You

COVID 19 has been rough on everyone, but perhaps for no one as much as our community’s senior citizens. They have been cut off from family and friends, often having to trade hugs for occasional screen visits. If anyone needs some love, it’s our seniors.

Share the Love!

  • Build a snowman facing the resident’s windows.
  • Make some DIY snow paint to write notes in the snow outside their windows.
  • Create birdseed heart ornaments to hang in the bushes outside the windows. Try this one for little kids or this one for older kids.
  • Make these DIY Heart Sun Catchers to deliver.
  • Call a local care home near you and ask for a pen pal for you and your child to write notes and send some art to brighten their days.

3. Families Helping Families

Families Helping Families is a nonprofit organization offering programs and services designed specifically to help Iowa’s foster care children and the families who care for them. The average child in foster care moves 7 times before the age of 18, usually abruptly, leaving their home with very few personal belongings. Families Helping Families seeks to make these transitions more bearable through their services and programs. Currently, there are nearly 10,000 children in foster care in the state of Iowa. 

Share the Love!

  • You and your child can go through his or her gently used clothing to donate, just call 319-294-9706 to see what size clothing they are currently in need of as space is limited.
  • Shop for new school supplies or new children’s clothing in sizes needed to deliver to Families Helping Families at 3516 Center Point Road NE, Cedar Rapids. 

4. Food Pantries

Local food pantries provide food to people in need and help clients stretch their funds to help them stay in their house, pay for medical care, make a payment for their vehicle, repair an appliance, pay a utility bill, or at the very least, help them not be hungry. Check out this link for a food pantry near you that you can share the love with.

Share the Love!

  • Give your chosen pantry a call to see what they are most in need of and what days and times they are open for donations.
  • Take your child shopping, or have them pick out some favorites with you when you order groceries online to bring to the pantry together. 

5. Valentines for Veterans

The Iowa Veterans Home serves approximately 500 veterans. They strive to provide a continuum of care to Iowa’s veterans and their spouses in an environment focusing on personal choice and individualized services to enhance their quality of life. 

Share the Love!

  • Your children can make handmade valentines for veterans and mail them to the Iowa Veterans Home at: Quartermaster, 1301 Summit Street, Marshalltown, IA 50158.
  • Here is a list of other items they could use if you’d like to make a care package with your Valentines.

While the pandemic and derecho have brought so many unwelcome changes to our community, you can teach your children that one thing will not change. We still love and care for one another and that’s what makes us Iowa Strong.

“The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.” Coretta Scott King

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