Celebrating Giving

Disclosure: This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group™ and Project 7 but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #chewforchange http://cmp.ly/3/8vNxcO

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.

project 7 gum

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?

Project7 meal

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).

mac n cheese2

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.

pay it forward 2

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.

pay it forward

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.

Also follow Project 7 on Facebook and Twitter for more information

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.


  1. I was so hoping you would post about this when you made mention of it on your twitter feed. What a fun day you had!

    I had no idea about the gum! S2 can chew gum in class…imagine his coolness…but from now on, I know just what gum we’ll be picking up. Thanks for letting me know!
    Denise at Life With Four Boys Coffee Please recently posted…Directionally ChallengedMy Profile

  2. Love this. Absolutely LOVE it. (And that is a HUGE haul! Looks like Costco exploded! ;) )
    JessieLeigh recently posted…5 Fall Meals from 5 Pork ChopsMy Profile

  3. What an awesome idea! I love it so much!
    Jenny from Mommin’ It Up recently posted…What you don’t know CAN hurt youMy Profile

  4. Love, love, a hundred times love this.
    Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect recently posted…Poverty, Donkeys and Hard ChoicesMy Profile

  5. That’s so awesome! My tween had a spa birthday party last month and we asked for donations of hair brushes and shampoo for the area homeless shelter. Just like your daughter’s awesome friends, these girls really came through! I was surprised at how many items they brought. Thanks for reminding me of how very good people are!
    Shannan recently posted…Why does hair color change during puberty?My Profile

  6. Christie says:

    You, Jill Mama, are doing a fantastic job raising a sweet daughter. From loving on foster kids to 10 random birthday acts of kindness, you are leading your family in loving others. Made me tear up thinking about those people who were surprised by Lily’s kindness!

  7. Brilliant! I love it! I’ve recently been on the receiving end of a random act of kindness and it made SUCH a huge difference to me. I’m hoping to do something like this for my birthday now. It’s such a great idea!
    Christie recently posted…Damsel in Distress Part 759My Profile

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