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Our Year of Giving

A project to teach compassion sows the seeds of big change in one family and their community

Published on: May 24, 2014

We all resolve to do more to help our community, but with busy lives filled with work, school, soccer practice and more, can just one family make time to make a difference? One mom, Chanda Mundil, shows that you can.

Mundil is the mom of two young children and one on the way. Determined to teach her kids how to give their time and energy to others, the Seattle-area mom embarked on a project in September 2013 to get the entire family involved in serving the community once a month for an entire year. She dubbed it “Our Year of Giving.”

Since then, Mundil has seen her family’s volunteering efforts quickly grow from a bake sale in the garage to fundraisers and events in partnerships with local businesses. Our Year of Giving has generously given funds and supplies to organizations like Art With Heart and Treehouse.

Our Year of Giving is an inspirational endeavor that any family in Seattle can undertake on their own.

ParentMap recently chatted with Chanda about how she began the project, her favorite moments from the year so far, and tips for getting started with your own Year of Giving.

What inspired you to create Our Year of Giving?

The curiosity of our 5-year-old daughter sparked this adventure with the simple question, “Mommy, why are those people standing in line?” We had just driven past our local food bank, and there in the pouring rain were several people waiting their turns.

After my botched explanation, I decided to research how we could get involved. We figured, what better way to teach our children the importance of helping others? I was quickly discouraged because most volunteer opportunities dismissed families with small children like us. Our Year Of Giving was born so that we could help in our own ways.

How has the project impacted your children?

We saw an almost immediate impact with our daughter because she has been involved in each project so far, whether it’s baking cookies for a bake sale or collecting supplies for a donation drive.

Last month I noticed she was collecting toys around the house. When I asked her why, she responded, “I am setting up a free toy store. You know, for kids that don’t have any toys, so they can come pick out what they like.”

I knew right then and there she fully comprehended what it means to give freely to others. It is a moment we will hang on to forever.

As for our 2-year-old son, he is too young to understand, but what I do know is that he understands joy when our family is together. (And he does like any event with food.)

How do you choose an organization to support?

We choose organizations that support children or families in some way, or that have impacted our family life.

For example, we are one of many families that navigate life with food allergies, and that is why we chose to support FARE during the month of April. We hosted a fundraiser at the Issaquah Highlands Ben and Jerry’s, with a portion of proceeds directly benefiting the continued research and education needed to battle food allergies.

Do you have any tips for getting a retail partner involved?

All you have to do is ask! We have been amazed at the willingness of retailers to not only partner with us in hosting events, but to supply donations, too.

I always start with a simple phone call and then follow up with an email detailing our project and how we plan on publicizing their involvement. We have also been careful to ask if the businesses have any guidelines regarding the use of their names and logos across social media.

Do any events from the past year stand out as favorites?

It is so hard to pick a favorite. One recent project stands out as a teachable moment for us, and that was our bake sale benefiting Icing Smiles. We simply baked treats and also asked friends to supply treats.

There we stood in the back of our garage with a card table set out and the Seattle rain pouring again. I kept thinking, “No one is coming.” Before I knew it, we literally had traffic [backed up] and raised a ton of money under the umbrellas.

It was a reminder that events do not have to be grandiose to be successful. It is the goodness in people that make a fundraiser special.

Do you have any other advice for families starting their own year of giving?

Set out to serve your community in ways that work for you. It may sound selfish, but the reality is that we are all busy. I found out I was expecting our third “little giver” during the first month of our project, so we have had to adapt to our abilities.

Keep it simple, too. There’s no need to spend a lot of money. Just use the resources the non-profit organizations are able to help with, such as flyers and advertising or event space.

Lastly, do not be afraid of the word “no.” You will hear it, and when you do, just say to yourself, “Next!”

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