Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Pay It Forward

It’s hard these days not to obsess about the economy; we’re thinking more carefully about every dime. We have friends who are really struggling just to get through the month. We’ve always tried to make the children understand how very fortunate they are, and to see all of the things that they take for granted; in the past, this has mostly been stuff like a bedroom full of toys and the occasional treats when they go the store, but lately, we’ve been talking about things like food and shelter — the basics.

My kids have a hard time imagining what it would be like to be hungry — there is always food in our house, and the worst case scenario for them is having to eat what I am serving instead of a meal they have cobbled together out of kid food (cheese sticks and chicken nuggets and fish crackers). The idea that a family might not know where their next meal is coming from is completely baffling to them.

I’m grateful for that, really, but I also want them to be aware that not everyone gets to choose between two different kinds of cookies for lunch, or have a Gatorade for every soccer practice. I want them to know that those choices come with a responsibility — if we can afford Gatorade and fancy cookies, we can afford to share what we have with those who have less.

Not only can we, but we need to, because it’s the right thing to do.

Here are five ways you can share with families who need a helping hand.
1. Sign the Scotts’ GroGood pledge, and help them help Feeding America.
2. Participate in Share Our Strength’s Great American Bake Sale.
3. Clean out a closet and donate what you can’t use to a group like Habitat for Humanity.
4. Host a dinner party: provide all the food and ask your guests to bring donations (cash or canned goods) for your local food bank.
5. Help your kids host a book party: each child brings a gently used book (or two) that you donate to a shelter or to the local Ronald McDonald house. Do a craft where kids write and decorate their own books.

I really believe that the more we have, the more we should give, but I also believe that the more you give, the more you will feel like you have enough.

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