Why Our Family Started Dropping Off Cookies Around Town -- And You Should Too

by Jenny Emerson
Originally Published: 
A brown-haired boy in a blue-orange jacket and a blonde boy in a red shirt dropping off cookies arou...
Courtesy of Jenny Emerson

Inspiration to do good in our community can come from many places—our kids, a conversation, or the community. Unfortunately, we need to be present to recognize an opportunity and then have the energy to execute a plan to spread kindness. As a mother of two children (seven and nine), life is often busy — and let’s face it, parenting can be exhausting. To add one more thing to our list can overload us to a point we become the frazzled family, showing up with no shoes to school or clothes on backward or forgotten lunches (sadly all have happened more than I would like to acknowledge publicly).

Recently, one relaxed Sunday, I was inspired by my children’s interest in baking. Instead of saying no, I said yes, and a few hours later, my kitchen was dusted with flour and butter blobs. My daughter made a vanilla cake from scratch, which she cut into the shape of a cat and covered in homemade but delicious lumpy lavender vanilla buttercream. Despite cooking at altitude in Denver, my son successfully baked a batch of tasty chocolate chip cookies.

Baking lots of treats for our family of four caused my own internal angst about healthy food choices at home. Whether my anxiety was warranted or not, I questioned if we should eat all these treats, or should we try to give some away?

Courtesy of Jenny Emerson

This was an opportunity for us to inspire joy and practice kindness in our community. I suggested taking some cookies (of course not all) to the fire station, but both kids wanted to give them to a local retirement home that we had visited in the past. In addition to the cookies, my daughter decided to make a poster of cats at the pool to decorate the walls of the retirement home.

So we loaded up to make an impromptu visit to the retirement home during dinner time which promptly starts at 4:30 pm. Once we arrived, we asked the Activity Director for permission to hand out cookies to the residents while they were sitting at tables for their meal. Interacting with the elderly can be uncomfortable and scary for children (and adults) because of the impact of aging on the body and mind. Many of the residents are in wheelchairs, are unable to speak clearly, and are hard of hearing. I shared with my children that even though this experience can be intimidating, for them to inspire joy, they just need to smile and be their cute kid selves.

We went table to table and my kids tentatively (maybe fearfully at first) offered the plate of chocolate chip cookies to the residents who often reached for a cookie with an unsteady hand. My children quickly realized how happy all the residents were to receive a cookie. My kids, with eyes looking down, shyly smiled and asked at each table, “Would you like a cookie?”

As they handed out the goodies, they both gained confidence and ventured independently to the tables to interact with the elderly folks. My kids inspired joy in the residents, one cookie and one smile at a time. Best of all, they received the experience of giving to others and practicing kindness to individuals who are in a different life stage. At every table, the residents expressed how grateful they were for the homemade cookies and a visit from children. They kept asking us to come back to visit them soon!

Courtesy of Jenny Emerson

If your family wants to spread kindness in your community, one small act is all it takes!

Ten Ideas of Places to Take Baked Goods to Inspire Joy in your Community:

1. Police station

2. Fire department

3. Teacher’s lounge

4. A parent or grandparent’s workplace

5. Animal shelter (for the volunteers)

6. Food pantry

7. A friend

8. A new neighbor

9. A coach

10. Someone who is sick or has a family member who is ill

Courtesy of Jenny Emerson

As parents, how can we model practicing kindness and giving back in our family? How can we provide our children with ideas to inspire joy in others? How can we make kindness a family value and priority in our busy lives?

Baked goods are a great place to start.

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