Monday, April 20, 2009

Pass It On

Today's post is about giving to others and giving ourselves a gift at the same time. 

I spend so much time moving, cleaning and sorting STUFF. I hear most of the moms I know complain about this phenomenon. I know that having a kid means having more stuff just because kids need a different array of stuff than adults--toys, kids' books, kids' clothes, etc. but I have realized that there is an element of sentimental mushiness that is making it hard to get rid of some of Will's stuff. 

Well, that had to end. And I decided that it could end by getting Will and myself excited about the idea of giving some of that stuff. Not "cleaning out" or "getting rid of" because that is sad and heart wrenching (at least to me!!) but "giving" means blessing someone else with the joy that the STUFF brought us. Anyone who isn't following me here is either not a mom or is just stronger than I am. We're talking about baby toys, books that we've read together 300 times, and even a pair of Will's little Robeez shoes (still in pretty good condition, as his fat little feet were almost too big for this pair when he received them as a gift).

So, here it goes...

Me: "Will, did you know that there are kids who don't really have many toys? Kids who don't have all the nice clothes that you have?"

Will, playing with a truck, "Vroooommmmm!! Mom, can you move your leg so my truck can go by?"

Me, thinking: "Hmmmm....this isn't really working."

Me: "Will, would it be sad if you were a baby who didn't have any toys? What if you had nothing to play with?"

Will: "That'd be so sad. No Elmo? No dinosaurs?"  *gasp* "No firetrucks?"

So, the conversation went on, and we talked about how as we grow up, there are things we outgrow, things we don't need anymore. And it's time to pass them on to other people.

Then we got a box, and put things in it that we both didn't need. I gathered a few of my shirts, a pair of shoes, etc, and I made suggestions for his stuff that Will either agreed to or vetoed. I allowed vetoes. I don't want this to be painful! I want him to think about his plenty and to think about contributing to others as a positive thing, of course.

So, we took the box to the local Family Promise charity. It's a place that gives the items directly to families in need. There's not a resale shop, rather it takes referrals from agencies and social workers. 

Will had a lesson in giving, recycling, and realizing that the things he is too old or too big for can be useful to someone else. 

And I have a little bit less STUFF to clean, organize and corall this week. We both won!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Feeding Our Neighbors...With Easter Eggs?

Willy and I enjoyed another opportunity to serve and have fun together! 

Our church has a great relationship with the community library across the street. The library was holding an Easter Egg Hunt, and decided that the cost of admission would for our food pantry!

So, kids hunted and gathered, and volunteers boxed and loaded and unloaded and categorized the jillions of random donations so that they could be passed out to folks at our next Saturday distribution. 

Another afternoon well spent, serving and enjoying every minute of it.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Make a Difference at the Corner Bus Stop

The Toole family lives right down the street from the bus stop. Daddy Toole is the most frequent bus rider in the family, but Will is a big fan of the bus and loooooves to watch buses, ride on buses, point out buses, and pretend he is a bus driver. He also enjoys "The Wheels on the Bus," so you could say that buses are a pretty big interest of his right now.

Today our project was to clean up our local bus stop. Mommy Toole walks to work and passes this bus stop every morning and afternoon. Since we also live pretty close to a college, it is a very popular bus route and this bus stop is pretty well-used and, unfortunately, well-trashed.

Sometimes when we walk by it on the way to the playground, Will points it out "look at all the trash!" 

So, here was the plan: pick up the trash and get the bus stop back to a pleasant place to sit and wait. 

We began with some supplies: 

** two plastic grocery bags (although, at the end, I realized I should have double bagged them)
**four pair of rubber gloves 
**two rubber bands

Why the rubber bands? Well, they don't seem to make disposable gloves small enough for 3-year-old hands. So, the rubber bands were there to hold on Will's gloves, like so:

We walked the 1/2 block to the bus stop and found this: 

I think you can already see the trash behind the bench, but let's zoom in: 

As Will said, "How sad that some people put their trash on the ground!"

So, we picked up and bagged up the cups, wrappes, straws, bottles, cans, tons and tons of cigarette butts, and unidentifiable other junk.

The most intersting piece of trash we found was this one:

It's a bicycle seat. Allright, it was not that interesting, but after 248 cigarette butts, it was unique.

And here was our haul--2 bags of trash (check out the rebar sticking out of the right bag) and 1 bicycle seat. It was a good day!

When we were all finished, I asked Will if we had done a good job. He smiled at me and said, "Our bus stop is pretty now!"

Mommy and Willy Toole, bus stop beauticians.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Show a little heart

Will and I are working on a project for Valentine's Day. Along with cards for family, friends, and teachers, we are making some cards to send to other people. Since Will's at a stage where the cards are kind of generic (i.e., he's not writing anything in them, mostly just gluing down hearts that I have cut out for him!), I haven't figured out exactly where they are going yet, but some thoughts are:

1. The army hospital (the school I worked at last year did "Valentine's for Vets" and sent cards to veterans who were long-term residents of the was apparently well received and the social workers told us how happy the guys and gals were to get them)

2. A nursing home

3. Service folks--those fire fighters we love so much, the letter carrier, etc.

4. Suggestions????

Here is Will working on a card at his little desk. He is happily coloring and will add some hearts later. He writes his name, and sometimes some random letters, too. It's truly a child's work, and I know that anyone who receives it will know it came from the heart.

Anyone else doing something special for Valentine's Day to help let someone know they are on your mind??

Monday, January 19, 2009

Who's hungry?

A project that I enjoy taking Will to is our church's "food distribution" day. Throughout the month, people bring in donations of food--all canned stuff. One Saturday a month, a bunch of volunteers get together and sort, bag and hand out the food. They also fix and serve a meal that all the food recipients and the volunteers eat together. There are between 75 and 150 guests each month, but the numbers have been on the high end recently, with the economic problems facing the community.

Food is organized into categories--chili, canned fruit, canned veggies, corn, spam, vienna sausages, tuna, etc. Then each volunteer grabs a bag (those reusable bags from a local grocery store) and grabs one of each item, circling the tables, which are in a long recatangle. When you get to the end, you have a full bag. Drop it in the "finished area" and return for another bag.

The process is so easy that a 3 year old is welcome and his efforts are appreciated.

I was wary of bringing him the first time. What if people think he's in the way? What if they are annoyed at me? I just played it by ear, knowing that if the job focuses on continuous motion, it is probably perfect for my little guy!

And, to be honest, everyone reacted to him very well. While most people were circling the tables on the inside, we made the outside the "slow lane" and just circled at a slightly slower pace. We had to do this because not only are Will's legs shorter, but he had to pause at each new item to declare it "Corn! I like corn!" or "Beans...yuck!" People happily respected that, went around us if they needed to, and smiled at Will's efforts. He clapped when we finished our work, leaving this pile:

Sorry for the poor picture quality. I'll try to post a better one the next time we go. Just know that this is about 150 bags with about 20 cans of food and a 2-lb bag of rice in each one! And about an hour after this photo was taken they were ALL GONE.

And the effect on Will? He told me, "I like to share my food, because I like corn and other people like corn too. " Perfect. Just don't ask him to share his ice cream :-)

Does anyone else do food distribution work or food pantry work with their children? Share your experiences or other similar suggestions for getting your child involved!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Cookie Making Fun!

I love baking cookies! I especially like making them with Will. He is just so happy and has a great time. He enjoys the process, the scooping and shaping, and then the magic of how the dough becomes....A COOKIE!

He is really getting into the idea of making or doing for others. I told him that we were going to make cookies for other people, some for firefighters and some to take to other people--a few friends as well as his teachers. He was thrilled. He kept saying, "So and so will be so happy with the cookies!"

Of course, we ate a few ourselves to...ahem..."test" them, but overall he was happy as a clam to put them into baggies and containers and drop them off with other people, knowing that they would enjoy the fruits (or baked goods) of our labor.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Angel Tree Report

To wrap up the previous "attempt at giving"....

Will and I went shopping and had a great time. Once it clicked that this shopping trip was NOT about him, he got it and ran with it.

"I think Jason would like this one," and "I have one of these, let's get Jason one, too!"

We soon had a bag full of cute cars and trucks and even a little train with chunky animals that ride in the was a perfect collection for a little boy! And Will seemed so pleased with himself he didn't notice that we bought NOTHING for him. I was afraid that we'd have to end the trip with a "little treat for you for being a good helper and so nice to Jason" but it seems like the message got across. I'm not saying that another time there would not be weeping and gnashing of teeth, but this is a start!

Willy and one of his favorite stuffed critters, Raccoon, wish you a "Mewwy Tismas!"