Friday Fuel: Give Back While You Sleep

Now that school is underway and you’re gearing up for classes, homework and extracurricular activities, weekends might be your best option for free time with friends. And, what better way to combine fun and friends on the weekend than with a sleepover?! Yet, community-minded kids also want to make time for helping others, too. You can do both! This Friday we’re sharing a family-friendly volunteer event that turned the fun of a sleepover into an opportunity to give back.

Take a moment to think about what makes a sleepover so special. You might think about spending quality time with friends while doing the things you love or just the ability to have a comfortable and familiar place to sleep at night. The kids at this volunteer event had pledged to support children with medical challenges, and they recognized that during long hospital stays, these kids don’t have their familiar bed or the chance to plan sleepovers with friends. So, to support their peers, they thought of a way to bring a bit of sleepover fun to them while in the hospital!

The participants talked about what gives them comfort at night, and a common theme was reading bedtime stories. Each volunteer brought a book to donate to their local hospital, but they also took it one step further. Sometimes cozying up with a pillow or flashlight during a sleepover and telling your own stories can be even more fun! Each volunteer designed their own bedtime story-starters to help get a child’s imagination going. Kids in the hospital will get their very own story-starter pack designed by a volunteer with the hopes that it helps them get cozy, use their imagination and be transported somewhere silly, wild or magical as they head to bed.

"We did stories, so they could feel comfortable. I made a monkey riding a unicorn with other monkeys putting cake on their head. That would make a kid feel happy and silly!”

How can YOU get involved? SIMPLE!

Step#1: Plan a sleepover! If you’ve outgrown the sleepover, help plan one for a younger sibling or friend.

Step #2: Take some time to talk about and appreciate the things that comfort you (or what comforted you when you were little).

Step #3: Create bedtime story starters like the ones pictured here, and donate them to your local children’s hospital.

If sleepovers are not a usual part of your weekend fun, then here’s your chance to get creative! Find a way to infuse YOUR favorite weekend pastime with a little philanthropy. The combination of fun and giving back might be the most invigorating thing you’ve done since actually getting a full night’s sleep.

This piece was written by Marissa Nadjarian. We are proud to have Marissa as one of our main contributors and Mentor Me Learning Advisory Board Members. She is a service-learning specialist, educator, mother and founder of Philanthroparent. Learn more about Marissa and her work at