Age is just a number when it comes to making the world a better place. That’s what Alexandra Sklar and Lisa Geyser, the founders of the nonprofit Families Giving Back, believe.
Lisa and Alex became fast friends in a parenting group when their oldest children were 6 months old. “We were new moms, Jewish, and had similar backgrounds, growing up far less privileged than our children,” says Alex. “We often talked about how important it was to us both that our boys grow up appreciative of what they have and understand…[that with that, comes] the responsibility to help those less fortunate. Equally important, we wanted our boys to know that, even though someone may have different circumstances than we do, we are all the same and should be treated equally.
Both families have two boys who have all grown up and volunteered together. Lisa and Alex searched for an organization where their children could also participate at an early age, but they didn’t find many options. So they decided to create their own.
Both moms wanted to instill in their young boys the importance of helping others and giving back. They believed it was possible for young children to make a difference. Knowing families like their own who wanted to volunteer together, Alex approached Lisa with an idea. Within the same week, they founded “Families Giving Back” and “we haven’t stopped since,” says Alex.
Because Lisa and Alex know how demanding life can be, they carefully crafted an organization with a variety of options for families to participate. “No matter the age of your children or how much time you have, Families Giving Back can help your family make a positive difference in our community,” says Lisa. “Our events are one-hour in length to fit into busy families’ schedules. If families can’t attend an event, they can participate through a wide variety of more convenient, at-home projects benefitting nonprofits across the Valley. The organization’s website is also a great resource for simple ways families can integrate giving back into their daily lives,” says Lisa.
Families Giving Back has over 800 volunteer families and has logged more than 1,500 volunteer hours, not including at-home projects and donation collections. Some partnering organizations include Free Arts for Abused Children of Arizona, Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Southwest Human Development and Valley of the Sun United Way.
At last month’s 5th Annual Thanksgiving Meal Bag Assembly event hosted at Pardes Jewish Day School, families each brought five non-perishable Thanksgiving food items and $10 grocery store gift cards. They colored and decorated paper grocery bags with markers and stickers and made Thanksgiving cards before forming an assembly line of 300 volunteers to assemble nearly 700 meal bags during two one-hour shifts. The bags were delivered to Granada Primary School, a Title 1 school in Phoenix. “It’s always so much fun delivering the bags. Some of the students help unload the truck and they are incredibly appreciative and sweet,” says Alex. “It’s always one of our favorite events of the year!”
“There’s no prouder moment as a mother than watching your children do something to help someone else,” says Alex. “It’s been amazing to watch them grow into caring, compassionate boys who will continue to make helping others a way of life. It’s [amazing] watching our young volunteers work so hard and feel so good knowing that they are helping other people, other kids, and proving that the smallest of hands can make a big, positive impact.”
Get involved at familiesgivingback.org.