Edited on 1.12.10
Participating in A Silly Little Sparrow's blog party which highlights something you might have done this week "Worth Tooting" as she says...so it wasn't THIS week, but a few weeks ago, but I think I can still hear my horn lingering a bit as I was very proud of this experience with my little girls..
The greatest gift I received for Christmas this year was a one and half hour experience that occured the Monday before Christmas. The twins and I, and with the sleeping baby in tow as well, reported to our church at 9 AM to load up our car to deliver toys to the local mission that our church is affiliated with. Apparently, there had been a fire at the mission and many supplies as well as donated gifts and toys had been damaged. So within four days of notice, our church managed to donate over 1000 toys to deliver. In addition to having the girls donate toys during their preschool class the Friday before, I felt it would be a great experience to have them help deliver the presents. I admit, as I pulled in to this unfamiliar territory of California, I was second guessing myself just a tad as to what I was seconds away to showing my children. This atmosphere is quite different from your usual stereotypical "orange county" setting.
When we pulled up, the first person we saw was a homeless man who was sitting on the curb of the sidewalk, as he pouring rainwater from his shoes. Barefoot, he had the most swollen feet I had ever laid eyes on. Two filled-to-the-top shopping carts sat next to him. The girls immediately began questioning me - "Where is his house? Where does that man sleep? Does he have a toothbrush?" I could feel my heart ache as I had to tell them the honest answers to those questions - there was no sugar-coating anything in this situation. The girls saw more and more people who looked just like this man, but much to my surprise, yet just as I had prayed they would react, they were incredibly eager to get out of the car and start carrying in the numerous bags of toys and food. Nothing that they saw in front of them - the moms in line for groceries, the children waiting along the sidewalks, the overflowing garbage bins and stench that filled the air - put a damper on their excitement to "be helpers." I was in awe of their excitement, their concern for these individuals, and their desire to walk those toys up to the sidewalk with such pride. I can see the "spring in their steps" in the picture below. All of this at just 4 1/2 years old.
The girls were disappointed that they didn't get to actually pass out the toys directly to the children but I told them that is something that we can look forward to doing in the future. And the real gift to me during all of this? The girls never once asked if they could keep one of the toys or whined about a toy that these children were getting and they weren't - I have two well behaved children, but come on, most children would like to keep most toys that they have their hands on, correct? It made my heart smile to hear them say "someone is really going to like this toy."
I was so proud of my "little helpers," and so thankful for their willingness to participate in helping others in need. The day proceeded and everyone they saw throughout the day, the conversation started with "we were helpers today..." and the details followed. We have a long way to go before they are at the mature age to really understand the reality of this experience, but you have to start somewhere, right?
this is just one pile ...4 more of these piles were created alongside the building!
We discussed how the homeless man wouldn't have a need for the toys so we gave him some cash to hopefully get a meal for the evening. A second gift was given to me that moment when he said "God bless you sweetheart. Merry Christmas to you." I hope we at least brightened Christmas for a few deserving individuals that morning.