A few weeks back my mom told me about this post in which Ann Voskamp spent her birthday giving back instead of receiving and it got my wheels turning. About a week later I heard about Project 7, a company that gives back part of its profits to give back to others and a new birthday tradition was born.
Lily and I sat down to dream up ten ways to give back on her tenth birthday.
First we headed out to Meijer to buy 10 packs of Project 7 gum and some ingredients to bless someone with a homemade meal. Our first act of kindness was to pass one pack of Project 7 gum onto the cashier and tell her about the Project 7 mission (so of course she can steer people towards it in the check out lane). I get the impression that cashiers don’t get a lot of love during their day so this one was a good one.
Our second act of kindness was to make a meal for our foster baby’s aunt. She is who most likely will adopt our baby and we have developed a nice relationship with her. She recently had surgery on her ankle and has been in a boot and who wants to hobble around the kitchen with a boot on your foot?
My go to meal these days is pulled pork sandwiches (stick pork roast in crock pot, pour some sort of carbonated beverage over it, pull it out and shred 8 hours later) with homemade macaroni and cheese and of course brownies. You gotta do brownies. (ps. always pack in disposable containers. Other “bringing meals to others” tips here).
Homestyle Mac N Cheese
1/2 c. 4 different grated cheeses of your choice (they should total 2 cups) If serving kids I lean towards mild cheddars, Parmesan, American and Swiss. Adults I throw in goat or blue cheese, maybe a smoked cheddar. Really any combo works.
1 lb. elbow macaroni
1 T. salt
2 t. unsalted butter
2 t. flour
1 1/2 c. heavy cream
1 c. bread crumbs
1/4 c. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/4 t. salt
fresh ground pepper
Heat oven to 500. Cook pasta to al dente in a large pot of boiling water. While pasta is cooking, combine the cheese in a large bowl.
In a small saucepan, met the butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in the flour stirring until there are no lumps (about 30 sec). Slowly add in the cream. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 1 min.
Drain pasta and add to the bowl of cheese. Immediately pour cream/flour mixture over. Cover the bowl with foil and let sit for a few minutes. Uncover bowl and stir well until completely combined. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Combine bread crumbs, Parmigiano, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
Pour pasta into a 9×13 baking dish and sprinkle with bread crumb mixture. Bake about 7-8 minutes until topping is golden brown.
Our third act of kindness was a doozy. We had a slumber party with 8 of Lily’s friends on Friday night and instead of presents we asked her friends to bring donations to our favorite local charity, Kids Food Basket. And her friends DELIVERED. Check out this haul!!
we dropped off our haul with a nice little pack of Project 7 gum
Which brings us to random acts of birthday kindess four through seven. We attached little sticky notes to the rest of our gum.
Then we set out about town. And this is when the fun really started.
First we went through the drive through at Wendy’s and paid for the car behind us. Then we drove over to Aldi’s and paid for a woman’s groceries. Next we headed to Starbucks and bought coffee for the person behind us in the drive through. Actually the baristas at Starbucks were so impressed with Lily’s mission that they “paid it forward” by giving her a coupon for a free beverage. I see a hot chocolate date in our future!!
For birthday acts of kindness seven, eight and nine, Lily really wanted to write notes to her three 5th grade teachers telling them how awesome they are. And her final act of kindness was to give some extra money in the church offering plate because “I want to thank God the most.” and then my heart exploded
Every time we did something for someone we handed them (or had the cashier hand them) a pack of gum with a little note.
I don’t know how each person paid it forward, but I know it was a rush doing it. It took such little effort and very little money to add a little happiness to someone’s day. Which is a pretty big thing actually.
And that is exactly the mission of Project 7. One little pack of gum can make a really big difference. They hope to give away 1 million meals with their FEED products. One pack of gum gives away 7 meals. They hope to plant 1 million trees next year with their SAVE the earth products. One pack of gum plants a fruit tree. And to help, all you have to do is buy a pack of gum. Such an easy way to pay it forward.