Planting the Seed of Compassion with Seeds of Caring


While adjusting to pandemic life has certainly had its challenges, one silver lining that I’m sure we’ve all noticed is the influx of good deeds, acts of kindness, and people becoming more active in contributing to the community, especially those in need. We’ve all seen a tearjerker video or two honoring our frontline workers, and lovely stories in the news about helping lonely or elderly neighbors as they navigate quarantine life.

Now that my son is old enough to start understanding the concept of helping and doing kind things for others (as opposed to not too long ago when he thought I was going to give ALL of his toys to kids who don’t have many toys, which resulted in a meltdown and stashing every item in his playroom into “secret” locations), I wanted to take advantage of Seeds of Caring‘s amazing events where as a family we can give back to the community and learn important lessons from each volunteer experience.

I’d heard of Seeds of Caring in the past through friends and even in some Columbus Mom blog posts, but had yet to get involved myself. I signed our family up for a virtual event creating greeting cards to mail to front line healthcare workers. This led to the opportunity to speak with their Program Director Nolle about the organization and their purpose. I left that conversation with actual tears in my eyes and feeling so inspired to participate more in their events. I am so impressed with not only how they give back to the community, but the why behind it.

While giving back and volunteering is always great for children to do, Seeds of Caring takes it one step further and helps volunteers reflect on the experience and really think about who they’re helping, the impact they’re making, and how it makes them feel to help others. In addition to organizing and hosting the event itself (whether it’s packing lunches for those in need or making welcome kits for immigrant families), Seeds of Caring always has a 15-20 minute activity like reading a book together or completing a workbook page. This encourages conversation around the act itself. As Noelle told me, an act of volunteering is wonderful, but doing it once won’t change a child’s life.

However, if you keep volunteering, and keep talking about it, every conversation you have with your child and every question you ask about the experience plants a seed in your child to grow into a compassionate adult; thus the name Seeds of Caring!

Photo provided by Seeds of Caring: A family volunteering for one of their cleanup events

Prior to Covid, Seeds of Caring had 100% live events, and they did about 12 events a month. Covid forced them to get creative and figure out how to empower families to have these same conversations and give back to the community from home. While their live events used to fill up quickly and they couldn’t always accept all of the families who wanted to sign up, this new way of doing things has allowed them to have exponentially more participants. So if you ever tried to get into an event but could not, this is the time to sign up! They plan to keep offering at-home events for the foreseeable future, and have started adding back in live events.

You can find a list of opportunities on Seeds of Caring’s website under “Volunteer”. When you sign up for an event, you will be emailed a packet that includes the details for your event and ideas for discussions to have with your child about it. Some events are totally free, and some do require you to purchase items to contribute; the details listed prior to signup are very clear on if any sort of investment is required.

When we signed up for the free card making event, our packet contained the cards to print out and color, along with a talk track and questions to ask relevant to the event. There was also a video included that discussed how important it is to keep your “bucket full” and how we can help fill the buckets of others when they are feeling down, just like we’re doing by sending cards to healthcare workers.

My son, Dexter, coloring his greeting cards for frontline healthcare workers

We had so much fun making the cards and talking about it! Even though my son is only three and may not fully grasp everything we are talking about, I love that we are “planting the seed” in him to grow up to be a compassionate adult who looks out for and supports others. We can’t wait to participate in other events, and recently signed up to make wellness kits for at-risk LGBTQ+ youth in partnership with Kaleidoscope Youth Center, as this is a cause we are passionate about supporting (here in Columbus there are an estimated 1,750 homeless or at-risk to be homeless LGBTQ+ youth.).

I encourage you to take a look at the events, see what stands out to you and get involved! Not only are these events great to do as a family, but consider hosting a virtual event as your next Zoom family birthday party! Or as the weather warms up, getting neighbors together outside to assemble care packages or sack lunches. It could also be a great opportunity for classrooms, scout troops, etc. who are looking for ways to get involved in the community.

Photo provided by Seeds of Caring: Take an at-home event outdoors to safely bring friends and family together for volunteer opportunities

We would love to hear about your Seeds of Caring experiences, and let us know if you sign up for any of the upcoming events!

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Stephanie Dougherty
Stephanie is a Columbus native, having grown up in Dublin. She attended Ohio University where she met her husband over a friendly game of flip cup. She has been working for the same talent acquisition outsourcing and consulting company since graduating college, going on 14 years and is currently the Director of Implementation. After a three-year stint in Tampa, she and her husband decided to settle back in Ohio in 2008, and Stephanie won the Columbus vs. Cleveland debate (her husband says she's not tough enough for Cleveland anyway.) After almost eight years of marriage and three years of fertility struggles, they had their son, Dexter, in April 2017 thanks to IVF. They currently live in Grandview Heights after living in the Short North for almost 10 years. They love exploring the city as a family and are frequent COTA bus riders. Stephanie is determined to stay hip to all the new restaurants and places around town even after becoming a mom. Their family goes out to eat way too much, but she still loves cooking, especially recipes that use cauliflower as a substitute (is there anything it can't become!?) She is obsessed with bargain hunting but still manages to spend way too much money. You can follow along on their family's adventures on Instagram at @thecbuskid. Stephanie also has a dog, Athena, but she doesn't have her own Instagram because all she does is sleep and steal food right out of their hands.