Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Paying it Forward

One of the things I love best about the middle school my girls attend is their focus on service and community. They are encouraged to find something they are passionate about, big or small, and use that energy to connect with others and make a difference in the world.

Three years ago, Eve partnered with a friend of hers who started an organization focused on kids with serious illnesses who were spending large chunks of time in the hospital or places like the Ronald McDonald House.  The group is called That Lucky Bracelet and the girls put together customized "Smile Packages" for sick kids. It has been a terrific thing for Eve to be part of and the girls have a lot of fun making gifts for kids based on the things each one tells them they love. The weekend before Easter, we hosted a gathering of four of the girls in our backyard and they spent hours stuffing and decorating hundreds of plastic Easter eggs with candy and bracelets and stickers and bouncy balls that they would drop off at our local Children's Hospital and Ronald McDonald House for the kids and their families.  If you know of someone who would love to get a smile package from these bright, determined girls, hit their website and fill out a questionnaire. Some of the kids who have received packages continue to communicate with the founder for a long time after getting their initial package and it has been a really rewarding experience for everyone involved.

Three weeks ago, Lola was thinking about school supplies, not because she is anxious to go back to school, but because we were talking about the homeless shelter we worked in last Spring. One of the things the girls did while they were there was to volunteer in the childcare room and watch the toddlers while their moms took parenting classes or ESL classes or went to job interviews.  Ever since then, Lola has been talking about those kids and thinking about what it must be like to be homeless as a young child.  She asked me, "How do those kids get school supplies if they can't afford food?" and I replied that I figured it was probably pretty hard.  That they probably had to look through the donated items to find what they needed.  An idea was born. She got together with her best friend to create Education Belongs 2 Everybody, a place where folks can go and donate money to help these kids buy school supplies.  We started thinking, and between backpacks and calculators and binders and all of the other things that kids really need to get for school, the cost can run into the hundreds of dollars easily. And what a great feeling it would be for these kids to get to go to the store and choose their own lunchbox or folders based on the things they love!  If you're so inclined, go check out their website and donate a few dollars through PayPal. Each and every penny donated will go to the shelter we have worked with in the past so that these kids can be better equipped to start their school year off right.

3 comments:

Ilonka Michelle O'Neil said...

You are raising lovely young women, full of spirit and concern for humanity. Their school sounds amazing too.

B. WHITTINGTON said...

What kind girls you are raising. I'm sure your influence in bringing them in contact with people in need have inspired them to give back.
I love that they each have a cause that they believe in. They'll be so much ahead when they become adults, bringing along with them all that they've learned by giving. Thanks for sharing this inspiring story. I intend to share this on facebook. Hope you won't mind. Others who are able need to get their children involved. Barb

Dee said...

Dear Kari, please let Eve and Lola know how much I admire their generosity and good will and their thoughtfulness. What they are doing is recognizing that truly we are all One.

A group called Harvesters here in the Kansas City metro area is raising money right now for weekend eating for children who live in poverty. They get two meals at school--breakfast and lunch--but frequently have little food over the weekend. So Harvesters provides Food packs for those two days. I try to support this effort because the thought of those children without food is overwhelming.

But when I think of the children going to schools and not have the tools they need to learn, I also feel a great sadness that such conditions exist here in this wealthy nation.

I hope your daughters know that the road to change is taking one step at a time toward the goal and they are taking giant steps. Peace.

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