Another project our school was involved in these last few weeks was a canned food drive to benefit Kirkcare. As I wrote in my post about it, we have really been learning alot about hunger and how it affects kids and what we can do about it. Thus a simple holiday project became a service-learning project. If you haven’t read the comments on these posts by my students, be sure to see them–their words are proof that they’ve really been touched by the work we did.
So, then on Saturday I was able to extend the learning with my son, Riley, when we helped out at Kirkcare. At first we thought we were going to be loading food from our school onto a truck and then call it a day. Then I found out that we would actually be giving food to families that needed it and I was totally excited! This was exactly what Riley and I had been talking about when we were shopping, and he was going to see it in action!
The set up was pretty simple: A person or family would come and check in, and they would be given a number to tell us how many boxes of food they were to receive (based on the size of their family). We would then get that number of boxes together, add a ham and a bag of apples (and a bag of candy if there were children in the family) and then help them load it into their car. Simple set up, but with amazing results.
At first Riley and I helped take food outside, but then Riley was given a really important job. He became Riley, the Apple Man: he added 2 bags of apples to each cart that we were loading. Again, simple job, but totally appropriate and special for a 4YO boy. He was able to interact with the families as they came in, and to talk with all of us as we got boxes together. There was a really nice lady from Kirkcare (I wish I had gotten her name!) who took a special interest in Ri, and helped him in his work. She was known as the “Candy Lady” and of course, shared some with him.
Riley when we first arrived. “Look at all this food, Mommy!”
A better view of the room of food! I thought it was so cute that Riley went around and found all of the things he knew he had bought to put in the boxes. He was so proud that he had helped!
Riley, the Apple Man! (He really is jazzed to do this job. Just not about me taking a picture of him doing it.)
Riley putting apples in a cart with Mrs. Frierdich.
I am so happy that I was able to do this with my little buddy. Even though he’s only 4, and he doesn’t understand what it feels like to have a hungry belly, and he doesn’t know anybody that does, he totally gets that one little person can make a difference in the life of somebody else. He knows that he is lucky to have the things he does and that there are others who don’t. Even since this food drive, we’ve wrapped gifts for a Stuff the Stocking project at his daddy’s school, where he knew that he was getting gifts for kiddos who wouldn’t have had any, and he noticed that his own preschool is having a canned food drive now! Before last week, he wouldn’t have even known what that was, or what he was supposed to do. Now he knows how to join in and do important work–work that many adults don’t participate in.
My hope is that I can continue this work that we started in him this week. I want to always help him to ask “What can I do?” I want him to be involved in helping others, not just at the holidays. I want him to grow up to think of others before himself, to always look for ways to be involved in his community. Even one little person can make a difference. And some day that little person will be a bigger person, who hopefully makes an even bigger difference. 🙂
Wanna join me? How do you help promote this with your own kids? What do you do to help others?