It’s Random Acts of Kindness Day!

It seems like just about every day of the year is the National Day of something lately. Sometimes it’s ridiculous—do we really need a day devoted to dog biscuits (that’s next week, if you’re nodding enthusiastically)?

Still, Random Acts of Kindness Day is something I can get behind.

And it’s the perfect day to get involved in our Random Acts of Kindness Challenge. It’s super simple:

  1. Take a picture while performing a random act of kindness. It can be as simple as putting a quarter in a parking meter that’s about to expire or paying for the person behind you at the Starbucks drive through.
  2. Post the picture on social media with the hashtag #WwKBeKind.

That’s it! By doing those two things you will automatically be entered to win two family passes from The Westchester Children’s Museum (pretty kind of them, no?). We currently have very few entries, so your chances of winning are fantastic.

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Random Acts of Kindness Challenge

Random Acts of Kindness Challenge

Tensions have been running high lately. I think that no matter what side of the aisle your political views fall on, we can all agree on that. Scrolling through my social media feeds has become something that I almost feel like I need to steel myself for. Friends, family members, and complete strangers are at each other’s throats, flinging insults as freely as if they were Mardi Gras beads.

This is not OK.

While I feel very strongly about my political convictions, I refuse to engage in name calling and messages of hate (does anyone actually think that will change someone’s mind?). What we seem to be forgetting is that we’re stronger when we’re united—not when everything is “us” versus “them.”

I won’t pretend I know the answer on how we can get there. But I do know that the anxiety I feel over almost every new headline is very real. I also know that all of this tension can’t help but rub off on our kids. And when my kids are effected, the Mama Bear comes out in full force. Something must be done.

My solution: A Westchester Random Acts of Kindness Challenge

The single best way to diffuse a tense situation is by being kind. I don’t care what situation we’re talking about. Kindness can change everything. And if we take a great big group of people and pledge to sprinkle a little kindness wherever we go? Nothing but good can come of it. You’ll feel good. Your kids will feel good. The community will feel good.

So here’s what we’re going to do.

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Westchester Kid | Amanda Carlson Gives Back to Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital

Westchester Kid is a series that shines a light on Westchester county’s best and brightest kids. Through their cool achievements, go-getter attitudes and desire to give back to our community, these kids are people we can all look up to.

Westchester Kid

Our newest Westchester Kid is Amanda Carlson, a 12-year-old from Yorktown Heights who took a scary hospital stay and turned it into a much more positive experience by giving back to the local hospital that treated her and helping other sick kids in the process.

Westchester Kid Amanda Carlson during her hospital stay at Maria Fareri Children's HospitalTell us a about your hospital stay.

On November 17th I was admitted into Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital and diagnosed with a rare strain of E. coli know as Shiga toxin. During this time, I was isolated to my room and in a lot of pain. After five days, I developed a very rare side effect from this E. coli called HUS (Hemolytic-uremic syndrome). This syndrome caused the breakdown of my red blood cells, platelets and kidney function. There is no treatment for HUS, only support. I was under the care of a team of awesome doctors and nurses. They would test my blood twice a day. I had to get three red blood cell transfusions. These were kinda painful.

What inspired you to start your project and how did you get it off the ground?

I spent 16 days including Thanksgiving at Maria Fareri and during this time I wasn’t allowed to leave my room. The Child Life & Creative Arts Therapy Department at the hospital would always bring me arts & crafts, games, and movies to entertain me and help the time pass.

The hospital also has “Fun Centers” to keep kids entertained. The Fun Center is powered by Nintendo. It is a large screen on a cart that has the Wii. The cart can be signed out through the Child Life Center and is brought to your room so you can play. All the games are there also. You are also able to get on the internet from the console. I would have loved to have been able to play with a Fun Center but there were so few of them and so many sick kids. I never got the chance.

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Westchester Kid | Abigail Rosenbaum

Westchester Kid is a series that shines a light on Westchester county’s best and brightest kids. Through their cool achievements, go-getter attitudes and desire to give back to our community, these kids are people we can all look up to.

Westchester Kid

This week’s Westchester Kid is an 11-year old Cortlandt Manor girl who got a grant from the Candreva Environmental Foundation for $500 to put recycling bins in every classroom in her school. Impressive, right? Abigail Rosenbaum explains how she came up with the idea and how she made it happen.

Tell us a little bit about your project. 

I started it in 4th grade. I was assigned to write up a book report on any topic I wanted. I chose to look up stuff about recycling because I thought it would be cool. After I researched it, I realized that trash in landfills is a problem especially because most people, including our school, don’t have recycling bins and recycling systems.

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Westchester Kid | Nick Merando, Eagle Scout

Westchester Kid is a series that shines a light on Westchester county’s best and brightest kids. Through their cool achievements, go-getter attitudes and desire to give back to our community, these kids are people we can all look up to. 

Westchester Kid

 

This week’s Westchester Kid is Nick Merando, a 16 year old from Cortlandt Manor, who became an Eagle Scout last July. This is a huge honor in the scouting world and Nick achieved this rank by cleaning up a local walking trail. Here’s what he had to say about becoming an Eagle Scout and about the project that helped him get there.

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Westchester Kid | Alexa Robtoy-Credidio and Her No Waste Program

Westchester Kid is a series that shines a light on Westchester county’s best and brightest kids. Through their cool achievements, go-getter attitudes and desire to give back to our community, these kids are people we can all look up to. 

Westchester Kid

Today’s Westchester Kid is Alexa Robtoy-Credidio, an 8 year old from Cortlandt Manor. Alexa started the (tentatively called) No Waste Project to teach kids at school about food waste and ways to waste less. She wanted to create a space/program that would allow kids at school to share or donate their unwanted food. When she learned that wasn’t possible, she found another way to speak out about waste.

This year, Alexa will be in charge of a program to try and help the kids at her school understand what waste is and how they can make less of it, as well as discussing healthy eating and trying new foods. She’ll also hold a contest about waste and continue to educate her fellow students, checking in on their progress on minimizing waste throughout the year.

This is definitely a girl after my own heart. Here’s what she had to say about her project.

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Westchester Kid | Matthew Macedo from A Miracle Christmas In Yorktown

 Westchester Kid is a series that shines a light on Westchester county’s best and brightest kids. Through their cool achievements, go-getter attitudes and desire to give back to our community, these kids are people we can all look up to. 
Westchester Kid

Today’s Westchester Kid is Matthew Macedo, a 13 year-old Yorktown Heights boy who holds an annual toy drive called A Miracle Christmas in Yorktown. This will be Matthew’s third year collecting toys. In previous years, he’s collected over 100 toys each time. Today he tells us about his efforts in his own words.

Tell me a little bit about your project.

I started the toy drive because I wanted to make sure as many kids as possible could have a present to open on Christmas. Kids that are less fortunate or sick kids at hospitals deserve to enjoy Christmas, and kids around the world expect to have a present to open on Christmas morning.

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Westchester Kid | Let’s Play It Forward

Westchester Kid is a series that shines a light on Westchester county’s best and brightest kids. Through their cool achievements, go-getter attitudes and desire to give back to our community, these kids are people we can all look up to. 

Westchester Kid

Today we’re talking to Anthony Lombardi, a 16 year old senior at Somers High School. Anthony and some of his friends noticed they had an abundance of unused sports equipment. Instead of just throwing them away, these kids put their heads together and started a 501C3 charity that has helped thousands of kids all over the world. Here, Anthony tells us about the charity, Let’s Play It Forward, in his own words.

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Westchester Kid | Austin and Gianna, A&G Anti-Bullying

Westchester Kid is a series that shines a light on Westchester county’s best and brightest kids. Through their cool achievements, go-getter attitudes and desire to give back to our community, these kids are people we can all look up to. 

Westchester Kid

Meet Austin and Gianna, best friends who have teamed up on an anti-bullying mission. Their goal is to make sure no one ever feels alone and their dream is for bullying to end. They tell us about what they’re doing to put a stop to bullying (in their own words!) below.

Austin and Gianna, Anti-Bullying for LifeNames: Austin DeLonge (14) from Yorktown Heights and Gianna Zaccagnino (11) from Mohegan Lake

Accomplishment: They created anti-bullying Facebook and Instagram accounts. They hope to create a community where kids and teens who have been bullied will share their stories with each other. In the future, they’d like to speak to organizations and to raise money for support groups.

Three facts about Austin:

  • I love art.
  • I love music.
  • I play soccer.

Three facts about Gianna:

  • I love Harry Potter.
  • I want to be a marine biologist.
  • I love sharks.

Tell us about your project.

We started A&G Anti-Bullying because we want people to think before acting. We want people to stop bullying, for them to see what happens to others when bullied. We want people to not feel alone and to share with us.

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Give Hope Bake for Pediatric Cancer

Do Good | Give Bake Hope saleI’m a big believer in teaching kids at a young age to give back. Whether it be through donating toys, food or time, it’s never too early to make giving… well, a given. But as a parent, I know it can be really tough to find ways for kids to volunteer. Many places won’t let them get hands-on experience until they’re teenagers.

The Mamaroneck-based Pediatric Cancer Foundation (PCF), a national nonprofit organization dedicated to curing pediatric cancer, is changing that. PCF is launching Give Hope Bake, a nationwide, community-driven bake sale effort to raise money for the foundation during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

“We’re encouraging any person, young or old, kids or parents or a combination thereof, to get involved in an easy-to-implement way of raising money for this cause that is near and dear to us,” explains Bonnie Shyer, PCF board president. “There are so many people out there—groups, clubs, teams and individuals—who can have an actual impact on pediatric cancer research and patient and family support by gathering together and hosting a bake sale at their local schools, churches, temples and malls.”

So far, PCF has raised over $55,000 from Give Hope Bake sales in the past four years. All of the proceeds from the events (which are often children-led) go to patient care, treatment, equipment, and research to help find a cure for childhood cancer.

How can your family help?

Host a Give Hope Bake sale!

Whether it’s as simple as a lemonade stand-style setup in your driveway or as elaborate as getting your whole neighborhood, sports team, or scout troop involved, doing something is better than doing nothing.

PCF offers some great tips for a successful bake sale which includes: social media sharing, putting out a donations jar, and making a big poster to put by your table. The organization will also send you t-shirts if you reach out with your information (see previous link).

I absolutely love this idea. My kids love to bake and they love to give back. I love that they can really get involved. From baking to poster making to collecting money, they can do all of it.

Do you want to throw a Give Hope Bake sale together?

If I can get 15 local families to commit to baking and/or volunteering for the sale, I’ll find and book a location for us to hold it at. Comment below or email me at jen@westchesterwithkids.com if you’re interested. I’ll coordinate all of the details!

PS If you and your kids volunteer or give back to the community on your own, I’d love to hear about it! Post a picture on social media with the hashtag #WwKDoGood and I’ll share them from time to time.
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