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Children from around Massachusetts volunteer with Catching Joy by helping at walks for nonprofit organizations, making valentines for Veterans, manning lemonade stands and having fun.

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“They had coloring pages that they would put out, but there wasn’t the volunteer component,” Lisa says. “That’s where Joy came in and she suggested the kids could make ornaments that are donated (along with an artificial tree) to local charities who help children.” Lisa said Joy just makes things happen – and she works well with the kids. “You don’t hear a lot about kids volunteering and giving back to other children,” Yvette says. “So many people think the kids are too young to understand that, but Joy helps make it fun for them.” “When the kids were little, they participated in a jump-a-thon,” she says. A jump-a-thon is an event where parents donate a certain amount of money based on how many their child jumps at the event. That year, the kids donated the money to victims of the tsunami through

the American Red Cross. “Joy keeps the idea of giving to people on a basic level for the kids – she doesn’t put the emphasis on the plight of the recipient, but on the child giving.” It may sound simple, but there is a lot of behind-the-scenes coordinating that Joy does when Max is in school or after he goes to bed at night. But Joy doesn’t think of it as work. “I am so thankful for the blessings my family has,” she says. “It makes us more thankful by giving to others, and we have made so many friends through volunteering as a family, so it doesn’t feel like work.” The events that Joy coordinates are simple for kids to understand. “We may have them make bookmarks and then we donate books with the bookmarks in them to children in need,” she

says. “Sometimes a child will make a bookmark, but want to keep it. We always let them keep one for themselves, but we always encourage them to give one away, which can be hard.” Joy says that if the kids keep going to Catching Joy events, they come to enjoy donating and giving back to others. “She nurtures the positive impulses to create and to do for someone else,” Yvette says. “Children are naturally giving, sympathetic and empathetic. She nurtures the positive impulse to create something for someone else.” Yvette says Joy doesn’t teach giving; she gives children the opportunity to give. “Parents are dying for a way to have their kids give back and volunteer,” she says. “Joy was flooded with calls asking how to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy, and I know she’s working to coordinate

an event to help them.” “I like to be creative and our organization does charity walks and other events to help kids have fun while they are volunteering,” Joy says. “Kids use creativity, crayons and care in our projects.” Joy says as the kids get older, they get more involved in leadership roles in the organization. “Some of the kids now help read or talk about Catching Joy and what the organization is at events,” she says. “Parents should start by bringing their child to one project or event and see how it goes. People want to help, so it doesn’t have to be a major effort, just do one thing.” To donate or volunteer, visit CatchingJoy.org.

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December 2012 baystateparent Magazine  

December 2012 edition of baystateparent Magazine

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