By Gretchen Salyer,
Founder and CEO of June Care
February 14, 2022
Six Ways for Families to Share the Love this Valentine’s Day
During the pandemic, many people have felt isolated and disconnected from their friends and
neighbors. Here at June Care, we want to encourage families everywhere to use Valentine’s
Day 2022 as an opportunity to share the love with your communities and reconnect with those
around you (“JUNE” stands for Joining Up Neighbors Everywhere.)
These EASY ideas will help you make wonderful memories with your family while also teaching
your kids about the gift of giving back to others. We hope you and your children are able to try
at least one of these ideas this week to help celebrate Valentine’s Day and share the love!
1. Donate Stuffed Animals
I don’t know about your house, but somehow, we have buckets and buckets of “stuffys.” Every
year, we hold a “pet parade” in our house, where we take out all of our stuffed animals and put
them in a big circle. Then we have a parade to celebrate each of the animals before selecting
which 50% will go to be loved by another child and which 50% will stay in our home. However
you and your kids like to purge, usually families with young children always have a few extra
toys laying around that could be better used by someone else.
These days, lots of shelters, family groups and community centers will accept stuffed animals
that are in good condition as part of their inventory for the families they serve. Check with your
local community center or donation centers to find out if they are accepting donations. Use the opportunity to teach your kids about gratitude (we like to thank each stuffed animal for their
contribution to each child) and talk about how we can help those who are less fortunate than us
(it’s good to emphasize how happy each stuffed animal will make another child). You might also
enjoy a bit less clutter in the process. 😉
2. Make Valentine’s Cards For Neighbors
We don’t have to wait for Halloween to go and visit our neighbors. Valentine’s Day is a great
opportunity to have your kids make simple Valentine’s cards for your neighbors and drop them
off at their door. With this activity, you can go as narrow or as broad as you like. We like to stick
to the neighbors directly on our street (this also allows me to give the girls some independence
as they deliver the cards, since I can see them the whole time), but you can choose to do a few
blocks or simply one neighbor who lives next door.
If you are new to your neighborhood, this is also a great opportunity to include a little picture of
you and your family along with your names and your phone number (if you feel comfortable
doing so). It’s rare these days that neighbors look out for each other, but by including your
phone number and a bit about you, you are inviting those who live closest to you to reach out if
and when they need something… which also opens the door for you to find support and build
community yourself. My girls love doing this activity every year and usually also include a little
sweet for the members of each household to really spread the love (read sugar). 🙂
You can make very simple Valentine’s cards using your supplies at home. I also liked the ideas
here if you want to get crafty!
3. Video Call Grandparents (or other relatives you haven’t seen in awhile)
Every holiday can be a great time to pick up the phone and call Grandparents and other
relatives, but Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to get the family together and FaceTime or
Video Call with Grandparents who you haven’t seen for a while. It’s easy to make these calls
special and engaging for your kids with a small amount of advanced planning, too. Here is a
link to some great and creative ways to make your video call engaging, fun and special for your
kids and their grandparents.
4. Make a Care Package
If you know someone in your life or in your neighborhood who has had a tough year, or could
use a little extra love, you could consider making them a care package. Most people LOVE
getting presents and unexpected gifts can add a lot of joy to someone’s day. The care package
can be simple, here are a few ideas for what you could include:
– A handwritten note to let them know you are thinking about them – this is also a great
time to include your name, address and phone number to let them know they can always
reach out if they need anything.
– Something sweet
– A simple mug with some hot chocolate or tea
– A scented candle
– Some flowers (cut or purchased)
– A good book (or Amazon gift card)
Use an old shoe box (or any box) and have your kids decorate it (stickers, paint or even crayons
are great for making any box feel ‘special’). Add in your care items and maybe some tissue
paper or cloth and then drop it off outside of someone’s door or in their mailbox so that they are
greeted with a loving surprise the next time they check the mail.
5. Make and Share Valentine’s Cookies
Valentine’s cookies can be so much fun to make and decorate (note – if you are not a baker, you
can often find pre-made Valentine’s cookies at your local grocery store that can be purchased
and then decorated). Invite a few friends over or host a June Care playdate and have a cookie
decorating party (make sure everyone washes their hands before decorating the cookies to be
shared) and then send everyone home with a little plate of cookies to share with their families.
In terms of decorating supplies, you can keep it simple with white, pink and red frosting and then
lots of different sprinkles and decorative toppings for the kids to use to decorate. If you want to
extend the playdate, put on a kid-friendly Valentine’s Day movie for all of the kids to watch while
you clean up and assemble the cookie plates. Movie ideas: “Be My Valentine,” “Charlie Brown,”
“Shrek,” “Trolls,” “The Princess and the Frog,” and more kid-friendly movie ideas can be found
6. Volunteer as a family
If you are feeling a bit more ambitious (and are comfortable doing so), Valentine’s Day is a great
opportunity to find ways to volunteer as a family. Some of my favorite things I’ve done with my
– Volunteering at a local animal shelter
– Serving food at a local soup kitchen
– Facilitating a canned food drive for your local food bank in your neighborhood, school or
– Picking up trash at a local park or playground
Often you can find opportunities to volunteer as a family on your local city or county websites.
Alternatively, you can also reach out to local food kitchens, animal shelters or your parks and
recreation department to ask about other opportunities to give back as a family.
However you and your family decide to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year, we hope you can make it one to remember. After so much bad news in the recent past, we can all use a reason to celebrate love this year. If you are a family who has the capacity to give back this year, we hope your gifts are as much of a blessing to you and your kids as they will be to those you are serving. If you don’t have capacity to give back this year, my sincere hope is that someone close to you gets this message and you can be ‘given to’ 2022!
Thanks for reading and… more importantly, thank you for helping Share The Love this
Gretchen Salyer is the founder and CEO of June Care, a community-based approach to childcare. Gretchen and her girls love giving back… and also candy, so Valentine’s Day is well celebrated in the Salyer household.