Catholics around the world enter into the penitential season of Lent on Ash Wednesday. In 2016, Ash Wednesday will be on Feb. 10. Starting after Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday), until Easter, Catholics practice Lenten virtues of prayer, fasting and almsgiving (charitable giving) Catholics “give up things” in sacrifice for others and in imitation of Jesus’s temptation in the desert. So abstaining–got it. But what about almsgiving if you’re poor yourself? What about kids who typically don’t have much money? Can they practice Lent sacrifice? Yes, because almsgiving doesn’t have to involve donations of money. You can make donations of time and talent as well as treasure. Here are no-cost good deeds, ROAK (Random Acts of Kindness) and volunteer work for kids. Use this Lenten calendar of no-cost good deeds, one for every day of Lent.
* Collect gently used clothing for warming centers.
* Wash used stuffed animals to a children’s hospital or nursing home. Sew a little heart on donations for sweet little no-cost good deeds.
* Print and color Bible coloring pages, write messages on the back and send to lonely senior citizens.
* Visit a nursing home and lead a sing-along. This is great friendship building volunteer work for kids!
* Bring tea and cookies to a shut-in neighbor; stay to visit. Gifts of time are the highest form of almsgiving.
* Shovel a disabled person’s walk (or mow grass in warmer climates). These no-cost good deeds are so appreciated.
* Plant a tree and nurture it. What great donations of time and talent.
* Pick up trash in the park. The whole community benefits from this ROAK.
* Call grandma.
* Skype or FaceTime with your annoying older brother in college.
* Fold your sister’s clothes.
* Tidy dad’s work area.
* Cook, serve and clean up dinner. Mom will love these donations of time and talent.
* Donate used puzzles to the library.
* Repair gently used toys and bring to the mission thrift store.
* Drop used books in Green Earth Books boxes.
* Teach your little brother to play a song on your guitar.
* Knit a blanket for a new baby (little blankets make great starter project for kid knitters).
* Bike to the store to pick up your elderly neighbor’s prescription.
* Fix up your old bike and give to the neighbor’s child.
* Wash gently used clothes and drop in Goodwill donations box.
* Make a meal for someone who had surgery.
* Let your little sister pick the TV show.
* Do volunteer work for kids in your family. Play Legos with your little brother.
* Have a free garage sale. Or put gently used give-aways on the curb for people to take. This volunteer work for kids can have a network of positive connections.
* Fill a bag of groceries and leave it on your laid-off neighbor’s porch.
* Draw and frame a picture for your priest’s, rabbi’s, minister’s office.
* Write your doctor a note thanking her for caring for you.
* Find out what the food pantry needs, go shopping, bring groceries.
* Paint a pretty mug for your teacher and fill it with her favorite coffee.
* Attend a funeral (this isn’t exactly volunteer work for kids, but it is a very generous gift and not always so easy to give).
* Cheerfully clean your room without being asked.
* Leave a plant for your mail carrier.
* Babysit your irritating cousins for free (awesome ROAK!)
* Help your grumpy neighbor wash his car (this volunteer work for kids may not involve money, but it will cost patience!)
* Eat only vegetables once a week and put donate money to food pantry.
* Play lullabies on your violin to soothe the baby to sleep (mom will appreciate this ROAK and you get practice time in, too!)
* Fix the broken toilet paper holder or squeaky door (dad will love these no-cost good deeds!)
* Organize the kitchen pantry (generous donations of time and talent in this ROAK)
* Follow the Catholic Relief Services Rice Bowl Lenten calendar activities and put coins in the bowl. tim
* Bring donuts and coffee to firefighters and public safety officers.
Donations of time and talent are probably more heartfelt good deeds than monetary almsgiving.