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Cultivating the Next Generation of Giving

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Gainesville family volunteer organization, A Very Good Deed, teaches children about the gift of giving back.

Friendship binds together Andrea Love-Leonor, Shilpa Patel, and Jennifer Sabile. But what makes the bond even stronger is their mutual commitment to serve the greater Gainesville community through A Very Good Deed (AVGD). AVGD is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization they founded focused on volunteer service. The idea arose out of a desire for parents to involve their children in hands-on giving to others through simple, coordinated, well-planned, creative activities.

Jennifer commented, “All three of us are professional women; I have three children, Andrea has three, and Shilpa has two—all under the age of ten. Because we work a lot and realize all too well the heavily-committed nature of modern family life, we wanted to devise easy, convenient ways to involve our children in giving back.”

If children see their parents writing out a donation check, that’s one thing. But to actually participate in age-appropriate acts of kindness takes the experience to another level, instills positive life lessons, and makes doing good things for others a commonplace reality.

The first event produced by A Very Good Deed took place late last year at the Food4Kids warehouse. A group of more than 20 adults and 30 children spent the day unpacking donations, sorting through items for expiration dates, and repacking food boxes for needy families.

Andrea recalled, “This type of direct involvement has the ability to cultivate giving hearts in our children. It instills in them a desire to respond to the needs of others who may be less fortunate. They can see the value of their contribution firsthand. And positive, service-oriented activities reinforce their ability to grow emotionally and become better siblings, friends, and citizens.”

On Earth Day, AVGD organized a fun event where parents and children got together to plant azalea bushes at the Ronald McDonald House in Gainesville. Tropic Traditions donated the azaleas, and landscape designer Tammi Wait helped the children develop their planting skills. Added value at this volunteer gathering was an opportunity to learn about recycling and reusing materials and taking care of the earth, while spreading around some of Mother Nature’s beauty in the form of flowering shrubs. Actions definitely speak louder than words when the entire family is involved in volunteering time and effort to give back.

Recently, AVGD partnered with Ronald McDonald House at Haile Plantation Golf and Country Club to do a “Baskets of Sunshine” event sponsored by Comfort Temp Company. Families involved with AVGD got together to make and distribute Easter baskets to the siblings of sick children at Ronald McDonald House and UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital.

“We had a great, enthusiastic group who contributed to making up and giving out over 100 baskets to kids who often get overlooked in view of the serious illnesses their brothers or sisters are dealing with,” Shilpa said. “And Newell and Hebah Fox deserves special thanks for donating tons of Barbies and Hot Wheels toys.”

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