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Sharing the love on Valentine’s Day

Make valentines for people who might not be remembered on this holiday. Photo: PhotoNotebook

I remember Valentine’s Day being such a fun day as a kid, racing home to go through my candy and cards. Now, even all these years later, I love watching the same excitement in my children. Valentine’s Day is a wonderful time to remind our children about the importance of sharing love with friends and family, but also making those around us who aren’t family and friends feel loved and appreciated as well. We hope this is something we can do all year long, but around Valentine’s Day we are provided an extra special opportunity. Here are some ways your family can help share the love this Valentine’s Day:

FROM THE HEART

There are so many ways your family can show their love and appreciation, but one of the simplest and most inexpensive ways is by making homemade cards, artwork, or treats. Pinterest (pinterest.com) is an easy way to get thousands of ideas for art projects for all ages. My youngest child is happiest with a piece of construction paper, stickers, and some markers to make a card while my older son loves to read, so he made bookmarks. My oldest loves to bake. We put all these interests and talents together to make cookies, cards, and lots of bookmarks. We brought them to assisted-living facilities near our home and the Heritage House across from Moscone playground. Children’s Hospital is also a good place to bring your goodies. We had enough that we were also able to give some to the garbage collector, mailperson, and crossing guards at their school. 

FUN FOR FURRY FRIENDS

Some others who may not always get remembered on Valentine’s Day are our furry friends. For most children who love animals this will be an easy one. There are many ways they can show appreciation for animals. Last year, my son’s class baked dog biscuits, sold them, and the proceeds were all donated to a wonderful organization called Guide Dogs for the Blind. It could also be as simple as offering to take a neighbor or friend’s dog for a walk. You may also want to call local animal shelters and rescue groups to and ask for ideas of what they need and how your children can help give. Some have age restrictions for walking or playing with the animals, but these organizations are always in need of donations. Your children can use allowance or tooth fairy money to buy new toys, leashes, or bowls for the animals.

PAY IT FORWARD

This is one I know the whole family will enjoy and can really get into. I grew up in the East Bay and always remember whenever our family would cross the Bay Bridge to come into San Francisco (this was before FasTrak), my mom would always pay for the car behind us. We used to get such a thrill trying to watch their faces when they were told their toll was already paid for or when they would speed up to us and honk and wave with big smiles of thanks on their faces. Valentine’s Day can be a fun day to find a few ways to pay it forward and watch the joy it brings to your children and those who benefit from these random acts of kindness. Some ideas you can try are paying for the person’s coffee behind you at Starbucks or Peet’s or pay for the person’s meal behind you at a drive through restaurant. There are also some simple ideas that your children can do such as leaving quarters in a vending machine, returning someone’s cart at the grocery store, or holding the door open for someone.

I think it is important to teach our children from a young age that Valentine’s Day is about more than Hallmark cards and roses. Although all those things are nice, there are many special ways you can teach your children to show their love and appreciation. Also, I know for me, it is essential to find any chance we can to show our children the importance of giving and not just receiving.

I hope your Valentine’s Day is filled with plenty of conversation hearts and chocolates, but I also challenge you and your family to find a few simple ways to help spread some love to others this Valentine’s Day.

 

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Liz Farrell is the mother of three young children. Formerly, she was a news producer in Washington, D.C. and in San Francisco. E-mail: liz@marinatimes.com