A few days ago, I mentioned a mini-challenge wherein I want to not only minimize my material goods and consumer behaviors, but strive to find a way to GIVE to others of my time, energy, and resources–in ways that are also not material.
If I told you I had the energy to dive into this challenge head first today, I’d be stretching the truth. I’m just now coming down from two weeks of deadline-driven chaos at work, three fully-packed days of Halloween Hullabaloo, and well, two Butterfinger bars for breakfast. Just livin’ the American Dream here, folks.
I do have the focus, however, to outline my plan and invite you to join me in my efforts. Let me give you some background … I attended a luncheon last week for a local charity that provides services to children with Autism. I was invited because I volunteered some time last month to help them pull together a brochure and some signage for a fundraising event they were hosting. But while I was there, I was so inspired to help this organization that I wanted to encourage you to find a cause to support as well.
There are a ton of organizations out there that not only need financial support (which is difficult for all of us in today’s economy), but volunteers and services, also. In fact, one that comes to mind is Operation Sack Lunch, an organization that prepares sack lunches and hands them out to homeless and hungry neighbors on the streets of Seattle. I don’t personally have much experience with this organization yet, but this is the kind of service opportunity I want my children to participate in … giving back to our greater community, and learning how real people are really living.
I’m going to interrupt myself for a minute to point out that if you have children between the ages of 0-5 years old, you are totally exempt from volunteering outside your home. Raising a healthy, happy, and well-balanced member of society is your contribution. I know this because I used to be over-committed to every volunteer opportunity that passed me by … from civic organizations to mission trips, summer camps and youth groups. I literally reached a point of pure exhaustion and burn out. It happened to coincide with my first pregnancy, so I felt I had a good excuse to bail out of all community involvement for a while. And so I did. I don’t regret it for a second.
But now that my children are old enough to start getting involved in extra-curricular interests of their own … soccer and T-ball, dance and music … I’m looking for ways to not only enrich their lives, but to teach them the value of enriching the lives of others. So, the bigger vision for my latest mission is to not only find organizations that can benefit from the marketing strategies I might be able to provide, but also those that could benefit from the little helping hands of my children … assembling sack lunches, or collecting cans of food.
So, here is today’s after school activity. My kids and I are going to spend the afternoon designing and coloring a flyer to pass out in a local neighborhood that announces our intentions to collect food next weekend. Tomorrow, we’ll go to the neighborhood and pass out the flyers so that our neighbors will have enough notice to clean out their pantries. Then, next weekend, we’ll load up our little red wagon that Santa left for us last year, and head back to that community to collect cans of food to donate to our local food bank. The next day, we’ll have family breakfast, being very mindful of the food that we are so blessed to have filling our bellies. And then deliver our collected donations to the food bank.
It doesn’t have to be a part of a hugely orchestrated and overly political organization. It just has to come from your hearts. Grass roots. That’s how I plan to change my community.