A family that plays together stays together

A family that plays together stays together

Q&A with do-gooder-er Marion Duffield

The McLellans and the Duffields became one big beautiful blended family more than 20 years ago: three kids, two parents and the family mascot, a new puppy aptly named McDuff. “McDuff is long gone now, but I swear he was the favourite family member,” laughs mom Marion Duffield. “So ‘McDuff’ was the perfect name for our family’s page on xocial.”

For their first xocial campaign, the McDuffs challenged each other to 31 days of random acts of kindness. Four weeks, more than 10,000 points and a lot of love later, they’re hooked. “This won’t be the last McDuff family campaign,” Marion says. “I think it’s teaching us to give back forever.”

XOCIAL:
Why did your family create a xocial campaign?
Marion:
I wanted to see if it would work. My children are all grown up now but when they were small we helped them set goals and rewarded their efforts, so it just followed on what we’d always done. With xocial, the reward is how good you feel. And who doesn’t want to feel good?
XOCIAL:
Who participated?
Marion:
It was all three of my kids, their partners, my two little grandchildren, my husband and me—so from ages three to 55. I didn’t expect my granddaughters to get involved but they did. The three-year-old was hands-on with building birdhouses—they built one a week and she’s so proud of the tree on their property that’s become the birdhouse tree.
XOCIAL:
When did things start to get interesting?
Marion:
We created a challenge to buy a pair of TOMS shoes—for every pair of TOMS you buy, TOMS gives away another pair to someone in need. Anyway, I completed that challenge and wrote in the comments section that I’d give another pair of TOMS to the first person to see what I wrote. Of course my eldest son and his partner were the ones to get the shoes—they left us in their dust during the whole campaign. We had a lot of fun. People were so focused on the numbers, setting goals and putting reminders in their phones and texting each other about what they’d seen each other doing on xocial. We hit our 5,000 XP goal pretty quickly and decided to double it.
XOCIAL:
What was the most popular challenge?
Marion:
Definitely any challenge that had to do with family. That surprised me. I thought they’d be like, “Oh, I’m with you all the time, I don’t have to give back to you,” but they all made that extra effort. Even challenges that didn’t involve family became chances for us to bond.
XOCIAL:
How about the least popular challenge?
Marion:
Volunteering for three hours at a charity was a hard one. A couple of us did call some charities to see how we could help but no one got back to us. That definitely told us of a need they have! I’m going to contact them to see if I can volunteer to help with their communications.
XOCIAL:
Any interesting stories from the campaign?
Marion:
One of my favourite memories from the campaign is from my five-year-old granddaughter. The challenge was to leave a small toy somewhere a child would find it. Savannah picked out two butterfly nets and one of those plastic bug carriers at the Dollar Store and we hid them in the park on the way to school. She was so excited. She said, “Nana, can you imagine how happy they’ll be? Can we do it again and I’ll use some money out of my piggy bank?” She’s only five—she can barely sit still, can’t read or do math, but she knows what it feels like to give back. My husband and I had tears in our eyes.
XOCIAL:
What was the best part of the experience?
Marion:
As a mom, it was definitely watching my kids give back to the community. They bought meals for homeless people, picked up garbage, one of them even drove a lost senior home from the grocery store. My husband and I give back to our community a lot and we’ve always encouraged the kids to give back but it’s hard for them to follow in our footsteps because of the stage of life they’re at. xocial showed them that when you do a lot of little things, they add up to a big thing. I think that made a real impression on them. I think this could become a life-long giving experiment.
XOCIAL:
Any tips for other families interested in starting their own campaign?
Marion:
Oh yes! Mix up your campaign champions so it doesn’t all fall on one person. For our next four-week campaign we’re going to have four family members each take a week—they’ll come up with the challenges for that week and do fun stuff to keep everyone engaged until it’s the next person’s turn. Also, make sure you have a wide range of challenges, from really simple to more complex. That way everyone can participate. I also think open-ended challenges let people use their imaginations. We said “Smaller footprints are better!” and didn’t say what people had to do to get a smaller environmental footprint. That way they could get creative.

 

 

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