It took some thought to come up with a way we could give back to society without necessarily giving money or just whipping out the credit card, the m.o. of Christmases past. I wanted to do something that would be about more then just me & my wallet, so that the kids would be aware and involved.
As I frequently talk to my girls about empowerment and perseverance, it seemed the natural place to contribute would be My Sister's Place, a homeless shelter that is under the Catholic Charities umbrella, specifically for women with children. It not only gives these women shelter, food, and clothing, but also an address they can use to establish employment. We have made a donation off the wish-list in the past, when I was trying to show the kids what it meant to be homeless. That time did not go quite as expected as they were so confused about where all the women and children went if they did not have a home. It is still a work in progress.
In any case, in brain-storming what we could do, this is what materialized:
The benefits of this experience are innumerable:
1. Actively doing something to help someone and teaching my daughter to do so simultaneously.
2. Reaffirming the goodness in people in desire to help those less fortunate (except the one lady that didn't let us past her driveway because we must have looked intimidating - or she was recovering from being bombarded for more money at the end of her transactions at an assortment of venues around town).
3. Seeing the pride in my daughter when she was able to explain what we were doing to the neighbors all by herself.
4. Getting over our fear of walking in the darkness in order to do something valuable.
5. Alone time - with one child - alone. Such a miracle.
6. Being asked at the end "What do I get for doing all that work?" (By work she meant walking in the night snow for over an hour to deliver her requests) and getting to explain what "satisfaction" means.
7. Being reminded how much we have.
8. Creating an opportunity for the next phase of the project : collecting our portion of what we will give as another "alone" opportunity with "Middle Reed"
9. Getting to say "hello" unepxectedly to the neighbors (difficult to do in the winter when everyone is inside).
10. Walking hand in hand in the quiet, snowy night with my first baby. Stopping abruptly because Isabel had to hug right then because she was overwhelmed by happiness.
Definitely gonna do this every year.