Scraps of Life

October 28, 2010 by Amy Clark

I think most of us are grateful for what we have, not just around Thanksgiving but all year long.

My family has much to be thankful for, the biggest aspect being the support and love we share. And I’ve always felt that giving to others was an important way to spread thankfulness.

As I reached adulthood, I was often constrained by thinking it was my personal circumstances that were keeping me from giving to others. I’ve realized over the last few years, though, that it wasn’t my wallet that was a hurdle to giving – I just needed to be more aware of the possibilities that exist – for me and for you – to make a difference.

There are many things I have in my possession that I can do with the limited talents and budget I possess. Really, the possibilities for good old-fashioned giving are endless. I refer to this effort as my “scraps of life” giving. Here is what I mean:

Clean out those couch cushions and pockets

Do you have a spare change jar in your house that has been gathering dust? Rather than saving it for something for yourself, consider taking that donation to a worthy organization instead.

Call up a cell phone donation

The rapid rate which families go through cell phones these days is quite amazing! With most cell phone plans, the opportunities to upgrade come around every couple of years. The dilemma of what to do with those old, outdated cell phones is no longer a problem now that organizations like are around.

See anything worthy in your house?

The cost of eyeglasses is astronomical when you don’t have an insurance plan that covers them. Consider taking your gently used glasses to the Goodwill, Lion’s Club or local optician.

Craft your way to giving

Do you possess the gift of crafting? You may not realize how valuable that talent is. It can make the difference in the life of a child, soldier or someone who is undergoing medical treatment. A quick Google search of your crafty skill and the word charity should pull up a number of worthy organizations that you can help.

Whittle down your shoe collection

I admit it: I have a shoe buying habit and have developed quite the collection. The good news is that old shoes can be given new life because of a worthy organization called Soles4Souls, a Nashville-based charity that collects shoes from manufacturers and the public and distributes them worldwide.

Read more about my Scraps of Life giving efforts.

Kids give too

From a simple “please” and “thank you” to helping others at community centers and food pantries, my husband and I try to teach our kids to be happy with what they have and to share their thankfulness with others. That’s why, as a family, we make gifts to give to special people in our lives. Here are a couple of my homemade ideas that only require simple ingredients and clean, reusable glass jars to instantly become welcome gifts.

Hot Cocoa Mix

4 cups nonfat dry milk powder
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 cup non-dairy coffee creamer
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 (4 ounce) package instant chocolate fudge pudding

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl. If a finer consistency is desired, you can pour the mix into a blender or food processor and run it through. Place in an airtight container. Add a tag that instructs the recipient to use 1/4 to 1/2 cup of mix (depending on preference)  to an 8-ounce mug of boiling water.

“Oatmeal Cookie” Milk Bath

1 cup cornstarch
2 cups powdered milk
1/2 cup oatmeal (not instant)
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix all ingredients in a blender or food processor until it becomes a fine powder. Package the mixture in a glass jar with a note instructing the user to add 2 tablespoons of the mix to bathwater for a soothing soak.

Kenmore recommends…

A fine gift idea for a child, Shel Silverstein’s classic moral tale The Giving Tree: 40th Anniversary Edition includes a CD read by the author.

Amy Clark

Amy Allen Clark has been the driving force behind MomAdvice since 2004. In addition to running a successful community for women and running after her two kids, she has appeared on The Early Show, and in Parents magazine, Redbook, Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food, MSN Money and The New York Times.