A Lesson in Giving

Is it too much to ask for my boys to be GRATEFUL for all that they have?

It is a tough thing to teach when every commercial that flashes on T.V. leads my 5-year-old son to say he “NEEDS it.” In fact, just tonight he yelled from the next room: “Mom, do we have this? We really need it.” You know what it was? It was a Gerber commercial for a savings bond! I guess that is better than an Indiana Jones Lego set…but still.

Or how many of you deal with really, overly generous Grandparents? They are the best. The best at so many things but especially the best at bringing a present EVERYTIME they see their grandchildren. It can be the latest craze all the way to a simple Tootsie Pop but they are never empty handed and my kids go bananas when they get here – for both the attention and the GIFT.

About 10 minutes after my parents’ arrival, my 3-year-old son will inevitably whisper in my ear: “Do you think they brought anything for me?”

I want my children to be grateful for what they have. I want them to know that they have the ability to make a difference in other people’s lives and life is not just about get, get, get. I know it is a pretty big request for my little ones but still its what I want.

So today, I think I made a difference.

Instead of staying in and saying things like: “You’re bored? Look at all the toys you have to play with!” I took my kids out into the world and showed them that they can help others and give. We attended an awesome event called, The Great Day of Service!. It took place all over Rhode Island and is in its 4th year. Hundreds of people register to make a difference and are spread out to places that need a hand. It ranged from cleaning up playgrounds, to serving soup to painting walls at local shelters and it was amazing. Unbenounced to my family – I signed us up for a morning of baking cookies. Sounds innocent – right? Well we had to make 2000 cookies this morning and it began early.
We set the alarm and all piled in the car. It was then that I decided to share what was in store. “No, we are not apple picking. No, we are not going to Papas. No, we are not going to the bookstore.” Sighs. “We are going to make cookies…no, not for us.” Sighs. “We are making cookies for people that need our help. They are for others. Will you help me do that today?” A surprising, “YES!” filled the car.
Inside a beautiful church we checked in, received some T-shirts and were escorted to our place of work right there in the church. With chairs pulled to the counters we began scooping cookies onto sheet after sheet, bringing them to the oven and then out to a group of teenagers to be bagged and sent to places all over RI. We laughed as Noah turned a few of the cookies into snowmen and then as Jake made a feeble attempt to scoop up the dough that landed about 50 feet behind him. We tensed up when Noah very loudly yelled, “This cookie is for the person that has nothing at all. No money and no food because this is the best cookie of the day.” Cute-uh?? We also felt very proud when my parents came by tonight and asked about their day. The boys both shared the fun they had -the people they saw in a soup line getting a warm free meal because they needed it and all the piles of cookies that were going to families that would now be happy. They even boasted how they didn’t even eat on cookie! The boys are even quoated in the Providence Journal.
It was such a heart warming two minutes followed by, “Did you bring any cookies for me Papa?”

I tried. We all should.

If you want to teach your children about the act of giving, one idea is to gather up toys, stuffed animals, books or clothing to donate to a local charity. Here are some charities that could certainly use the support.

The Salvation Army www.salvationarmyusa.org.

Newborns in Need www.newbornsinneed.org

Goodwill Industries International, Inc. www.goodwill.org.

– Lisa

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