Like everyone, I constantly feel like we never have enough money. And just when you feel like you may be catching up on bills, BAM, you suddenly need three new tires (which is what happened to us this week. Good times).
But then I try to remind myself that compared to most people in this country and the vast majority of people in the world, we’re doing quite well. We always have food for meals, we’re able to take a vacation each year and we have a good headstart on E’s college fund.
And I want E. to know just how lucky she is. That’s why I was thrilled when I saw what was on my moms’ group’s calendar for today: we put together backpacks for 10 children at a local homeless shelter.
We all signed up to bring various supplies. I volunteered to get one boy backpack and one girl backpack, which E. picked out.
Once we got to my friend’s house, we stuffed all the backpacks with notebooks, pencils, markers, gluesticks, calculators, books, snacks, headbands and barrettes for the girls, shampoo, toothpaste, soap, washclothes, and more!
As we stuffed the bags, my heart hurt thinking of how this will be the first new things they’ve received in a long time. I hope it helps them start the year off on the right foot. I’m still haunted by the “60 Minutes” report last spring on all the homeless children in Central Florida. Every one of our families could be just one major medical crisis or prolonged layoff away from something like that happening.
I’m glad the other moms helped organize this event. I don’t think it’s ever too early to start having these conversations with your kids. In fact, over the past couple weeks, we’ve been telling E. that it’s time to go through her toys and start picking out some to donate to other children. This playroom has WAY too many toys for one child.
I’ve tried to put it in words she can understand, so now she keeps telling everyone who will listen that we’re giving her toys and the backpacks to “kids who don’t have any money.” I guess that’s technically true but I’m still trying to come up with a better way to explain homelessness and low-income families to her. Any suggestions?
I think as we get closer to Thanksgiving and Christmas that I’ll look for more opportunities to have our whole family involved in charity events. Last year, I took two bags full of her old toys to a foster home foundation, and they were so appreciative. I don’t think they get many donations.
But I’m looking for more ideas, particularly a way I can get E. involved. Any suggestions?
And if you’re looking for ways to help, click here to visit the CBS page that features Scott Pelly’s report on Seminole and Orange counties’ homeless students. The page also has a lot of resources for ways you can help, too.
Let’s help make back-to-school an exciting time of year for these kids — not something else to make them feel worse about their circumstances!
That is so admirable that you are doing that. Kids actually really like helping (and doing things out of the ordinary), eh? A few holidays usually have ways of helping (Halloween – donating costumes, passing out candy in the mall, Thanksgiving – obviously food drives, Xmas, etc.). To this day, I still go through clothes I don’t wear anymore, and rather than selling them, I always bring them to Salvation Armies or those clothing drives. They usually have giant trucks that park out for a few hours a day that’ll take the clothes from you ( I recommend this one, because it helps with cleaning process too – like the one about her toys).
Another thing I used to do with my dad, was go with him when he gave blood. I think I was 9 or 10. I didn’t give blood myself – obviously – but I like getting a soda and a snack there and helping him pick out the colour of the tensor band aid they would give him (“I’m a boy, Carly, you can’t pick pink”). Sounds stupid, but because of that, I have it in my head to give blood.
I think it’s wonderful that you are getting your daughter involved in it. It definitely sticks with them, to want to help people. This is definitely the time of year, where donations really get kicked up, so I am sure you will find some more things to do. (and I would love to give you a recommendation on how to explain other families’ money situations – off the top of my head, the best way to maybe get the point across, is to say some mommy’s and daddy’s don’t make as much money at work as we do, so they don’t have as much money for stuff like vacations and food and presents – that’s kind of how my mum explained it to me – she was actually giving me the Santa isn’t really “talk,” which I already knew, but she was explaining how some kids don’t get presents during the holidays). It’s a tricky thing to explain – but, all the same, you guys are fantastic for doing what you are doing! Hats off to you.
Thanks for the comment Carly! It’s great to hear that your parents’ actions as a child still have an effect on you to this day. Very encouraging!
We’re hoping that we can instill in her some of these values that giving back is ALWAYS a good idea — and chances are, you’ll get more out of it than the receiver. Good deeds have a way of doing that to you.
And I used to sell clothes but I realized it’s never worth the time or effort, and it just makes me feel so much better to pay it forward instead.
Glad to hear there are others out there doing it too!
Cynthia (It All Changes) says
This made my morning (although commenting in the afternoon). Our Vacation Bible School kids put together a box of school supplies for an orphanage our church supports in Kenya and they enjoyed it so much. A nice reminder to give back the simple things they take for granted. Your kids will remember this.
You’re absolutely right. One of the things that puzzled E. the most was when we were packing things like toothpaste, soap, and washclothes into the bag, so it opened up to a really interesting conversation about the things that she thinks she hates but that other kids don’t have access to. Baby steps but hopefully we’ll keep finding new avenues for these lessons.
Thanks for the comment!
Jessica @ Sushi and Sit-Ups says
What a great teaching opportunity and way to bond as a family. Maybe your children will do this with their kids one day!
Thanks Jessica! That is a nice thought — I hope she does, too!