Ayyam-i-Ha is a special time for families to think about offering service. It can be a special way for your family to get involved in the wider community, to support an organization you admire, or to offer help to individuals around you. If you are looking for a special act of service to offer for the upcoming Ayyam-i-Ha season, consider these kid-friendly service projects.
Host a Community Party
One mother from Germany, with three children ages 2, 5, and 7, shared that last year they helped host a community party for all the children in their community’s three children’s classes. However, they used this party not only for fun and celebration but a way for the children to come together and serve others.
“In the invitation, we wrote that we would like to ask the children to bring some of their own books and toys which they were willing to donate, collected everything on a big table (usually the kids are very generous!) and after the party we took it to an orphanage, an SOS children’s village or the like. There, we usually took a picture and then we made little thank-you-cards for all the children who donated books and toys so they knew where their stuff went.”
Host a Family Fundraiser
If you are having a party or dinner at your home to celebrate Ayyam-i-Ha with friends, ask them to bring a few cans of food, some clothes they no longer use, or some books they are done reading to donate to appropriate organizations. Have your child help you prepare a poster board about your chosen charity so your guests can find out where their donations are going and a decorated box to receive the items.
Clean Up Your Street
Cleaning up your street can be as simple or as elaborate as you wish. If you have very young children and do not feel capable of organizing a big event, you can simply set a time and day to pick up trash as you take a walk around the neighborhood.
You can also get the neighborhood involved in cleaning up your street by hand-delivering to each house an invitation to help at a certain time and date, and include a “Happy Ayyam-i-Ha” card or freshly baked cookies. Explain that Ayyam-i-Ha is a special time for Baha’is to offer acts of service and that this is how your family has decided to celebrate this year.
Offer Practical Service to Friends
Use the Days of Ha to look out for opportunities to serve those around you, without being asked. Do you know a mother who could use some free babysitting services? Or an elderly couple with a garden that could use some weeding? Call them up and explain that your family would like to offer this service as an Ayyam-i-Ha gift.
One Baha’i community hosted an Ayyam-i-Ha party where participants reached into a bag and selected a service card at random. On each card was written a service to be performed between Ayyam-i-Ha and Naw-Ruz. Services included ideas such as taking meals to elderly or shut-ins, offering rides to someone who can’t get around easily, doing chores around the house without being asked, etc. Then at the community Naw-Ruz party, everyone shared their service success stories with each other.
Visit Your Child’s School
Many parents have made it routine to visit their child’s class and share a bit about Ayyam-i-Ha. They may bring a treat such as cookies or cupcakes, read a story about Ayyam-i-Ha, and prepare a short activity such as making nine-pointed stars with popsicles or decorating a virtue-related coloring page.
You can take this visit to school one step further by incorporating an element of service. Mara shared how her family decided to weave a fundraising project in with their visit to her son’s school for Ayyam-i-Ha.
“Purple Cake Day was founded by Emily Sanson-Rejouis shortly after she lost her husband and two of their three daughters in the earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010. My husband, Mark, was a friend of her husband, Emmanuel. Mark was deeply saddened by the news of Emmanuel’s death. They had recently reconnected and had been talking about their families with one another. When I learned of Emily and her story, I was deeply moved by the tragedy as well as her ability to do something. I felt compelled to participate in Purple Cake Day. As Purple Cake Day falls on 1 March, this is how I will be presenting the service aspect of Ayyam-i-Ha to my son’s classmates. The teachers and I are coordinating a celebration of Purple Cake Day at the school. I’ll be sending home a letter in advance to all the parents. Everyone will be encouraged to wear purple, there will be purple cake and we will learn a bit about Nepal, the chosen country to support this year. We will be asking for donations of clothes, toys & books to send to an orphanage in Nepal which our Baha’i community is a primary support for.”
Here are some other ideas for incorporating service into your Ayyam-i-Ha celebrations:
- Delivering cookies to a retirement home and singing Baha’i prayers and songs to the residents
- Compiling “care baskets” for a teen runaway home
- Collecting unused craft supplies to a local community center (or school) that offers an art program
- Giving women’s clothing items to a women’s refuge
- Selling household items in a yard sale and give the proceeds to a charity of your choice
- Have a “free sale” where you place items outside your house by the road side with a sign that says “Free items for those who need them”
Please share your own ideas about incorporating service into your family’s Ayyam-i-Ha celebrations this year by commenting or adding photos below.
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