Thursday, January 21, 2010

Using What We Have

The star plaything in our house this week is unexpected. In fact, last weekend I nearly threw it out.

It is an empty Costco cashew bucket full of old bottle caps. I started saving the caps a while back thinking they might be fun for a project (as the buttons on a cardboard spaceship, the wheels on a toilet paper tube car, that sort of thing). We've used a few for projects, but they add up fast.

In my latest battle against clutter, I moved to chuck the container, caps and all, but as I did, I tiny voice behind me said, "Mama, I want dat."

Since then, the caps have been sorted by color and counted many times, cooked in a stew, batted by cats, and methodically replaced in their container. Elliot proves once again that kids can be satisfied with so little. In too many cases, that is a necessity, as for the children now living on a Haitian golf course who are still finding a reason to laugh amid so much destruction, armed with nothing more than a piece of cardboard, a steep hill, and gravity.

I cringe every time I hear the call for Haitian support reminding everyone to overcome the urge to send blankets or water and simply send cash. We sent some cash, but still the urge to provide real, tangible help remains.

Thanks to a recent Star Tribune article about volunteering with children, The Littlest Volunteer, I can put some direction behind that urge to help and a long held assumption that "someday" I would start doing good in the community with the girls. Thanks to the organization Doing Good Together, we now have many ideas that don't have to wait for "someday."

My favorite starter project is the "Birthday Party" party, where Maya and a few friends can put together birthday party kits to give to a local shelter (cake mix, frosting, candles, and an array of small gifts).

This and other ideas are small ways to give, but may use the time that we have to give our whole family a stronger connection to the world around us. The next step is simply making it happen.


Anna said...

When my niece was little, those caps were used to put glue in for projects. You just never know what will catch a child's fancy...

I love that birthday party kit!!

jstromli said...

Someday is now isn't it???? We started family service projects when Isabella was 18 mths old. I've had some mom friends who think it's pointless to include 2 year olds in service projects and I cringe...there is SO MUCH they can absorb, learn, and do to help! I love the ideas you posted! GREAT STUFF!


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