Two Fall Service Projects to Do with Kids

 

Whoa! Thanksgiving snuck up on me this year.  How did it get to be that time of year already?  I was sure I had another week to prepare.  It’s around this time of year that I think more about what I’m thankful for and how we as a family can help others.  So I guess launching this blog is timely in that way.  I hope you all had a wonderful one!

 

In November, we always try to participate in a few projects, and I wanted to share some of those with you:

 

 

1)  A great organization in town exists called Little Hands Can.  They have service projects that are simple, short, and are accessible even for babies.  I LOVE participating in their projects with both boys.  For Veteran’s Day, we went to a memory care facility in town to decorate pillowcases for soldiers in combat hospitals.  Kids of all ages enjoyed coloring, tracing their hands, and writing or dictating messages to our servicemen and women.  In addition, the kids were helping the adults in the memory care facility.  These men and women enjoyed every second of the songs, activities, and delight these children brought with them.  My boys and I always learn something from and enjoy them, too.  Check out their calendar if you would like to participate sometime.  They have weekly events for toddlers and at least bi-monthly events for kids of school age and their families.

 

2) Our biggest project of the month was Good Samaritan’s Operation Christmas Child shoebox project.  If you haven’t heard of this or have never done it before, it may be something to check out next year.  It only occurs for one week in November (this year the drop-off dates were November 13-20).  You either pre-order one of their shoeboxes to fill, or choose two medium-sized empty shoeboxes from home.  If you choose to wrap them, wrap the top and bottom separately.  Then, you make a $9 donation for a tracking label, and designate who your box is for (i.e., boy/girl, age).  The nice part about the label is that they scan the labels as they ship the items, and you can track your box online and see where it ends up in the world.

 

This was SO much fun.  Each of my kids chose an age range and gender for a child.  Then, we picked out boxes and wrapped them in brown butcher paper, and the kids decorated them with stamps and markers.  We spent quite a bit of time watching a video on their website about what Operation Christmas Child is, who receives the boxes, and why.  We talked about children around the world who may not have many of the comforts we share in our home, including toiletries, clothing, and toys.  Then, we brainstormed what we would put in each box.  Both of my kids even picked a gently worn outfit and toy that they would be willing to part with to share with another child in need.  After brainstorming our lists , we did some shopping and filled the boxes to the brim.  We didn’t spend a lot of money, but it was amazing how many wonderful items, thoughts, and wishes went into them.  My kids truly enjoyed every moment of it.

 

And real life happened, too…

 

 

Of course, there were moments where the kids wanted to buy everything in sight for themselves, but, hey, we are a work in progress.  Hopefully no judgment from all of you understanding parents out there.  I was actually shocked at how focused they were able to stay on their Christmas child.  We had NO TEARS during this Target shopping trip!  Amazing.  And, since those other moments were teachable moments, I found myself calm and collected.  I was able to reinforce what our purpose was, “Mr. Track Suit” (my oldest son) was able to reiterate to me our goal and why, and we could move on.  It was pretty amazing.

 

Fast forward to our drop off date.  Now, the drop off location is out in Veneta (a nearly 30 minute drive from where we live), but I didn’t mind the distance.  I had fun, light-hearted conversations with the kids on the way.  It was another chance to talk about the cause, kindnesses, and how happy our hearts feel when we do good for others.  Mr. Track Suit was also so excited to come inside and see all of the boxes piled to the ceiling for kids all over the world.

 

On the way, I had given Mr. Track Suit a carrot to eat as a snack.  Just as we pulled in to the drop-off site, he proceeded to choke on that carrot, gag, and vomit all over his own clothing and shoes, as well as his brother’s.  (Luckily, the Christmas shoeboxes were unscathed).  For about ten seconds I thought about cleaning everything up and then running in, but I had to throw in the towel on that one.  There was no cleaning that up without a sink, shower, and a variety of cleaning products.  Mr. Track Suit was devastated that he wasn’t able to join me inside.

 

Amidst the chaos, I realized his sadness was a testament to how much he had invested in this project and how much he truly cared about it.

 

Maybe TMI, but I guess my point is that, despite our best efforts, sometimes real life creeps in.  We are human.  Things that drain us, frustrate us, and exhaust us find a way to threaten to ruin our greatest of intentions or best of moments.  But, those moments don’t actually have to be destroyed.  It is true that thoughts and gestures DO make a difference.  And remember PERSPECTIVE.  We have a car to travel where we need to go, we have computers that give us the world at our fingertips, we have clothing, toys, and toiletries, and we have each other.  Many people in the world don’t.  Remind yourself during those messy and seemingly awful moments that you can look beyond the dark cloud (and sometimes puke) and see the sunshine behind it.  We have a lot to be grateful for, and we are trying to do some good.  This is something I’m working on.  And I think (hope) I’m getting better at it.

 

Much love,

 

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