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!