Wednesday, April 25, 2012

teddy bears and tornadoes - an unlikely pair

Age:  over 2
Type:  donation

Several weeks ago a local community near mine was hit by unexpected tornadoes.  Many homes and businesses were destroyed in an area unaccustomed to this type of devastation.  This story is not unlike many across the country, so I wanted to share an email that I received from another mother about what she and her little one did to help ease the pain for those involved in this tornado.  The author of the email, Maria, is a mother to two little girls and author of several books.

After the tornado devastated so many homes in Dexter, I was motivated to do something to help the families who were involved.  I got an email from a principal at one of the Elementary schools. She was collecting teddy bears to give to the children who lost their homes. I thought this was a great idea and was happy to help. I could even involve my 3 year old, Ruby, in this act of kindness. My daughter helped me pick out the teddy bears. When she asked me what they were for, I was afraid to tell her the real reason for fear that she would have a hard time with future thunderstorms. So, I simply said "They are for poor kids". Looking back, I am disappointed in myself for not taking the time to A. explain the REAL reason we were buying the bears or B. Tell her what it meant to be "poor". I made the assumption that she knew what it meant to be poor.

About five hours after dropping the toys off at the Principal's house, we were driving driving home from the zoo when Ruby asked me what "poor" meant. At first I had no clue what she was talking about! I told her that when a child was poor, this meant their family didn't have a lot of money. That maybe their parents didn't have jobs. They didn't have enough money to do fun things like go to the zoo. Oh boy, did this set off tears! Ruby was crying saying " My mama doesn't work! We are poor! We won't ever go to the zoo again!" We talked the entire way home about all of this. It's tough to really remember how young Ruby is when I am trying to explain grown up things to her. She's correct, I don't have a full time job right now. But she doesn't understand the nature of my work and that it brings in income.

Overall, I am happy to have included her in the experience of giving to others. I look forward to doing something like this again. We love to conduct random acts of kindness for our neighbors, UPS man and mail carrier! We are always baking something and giving it away. We also love making projects and sending them to family members. But we haven't stepped out of our comfort zone to help people out of our network and I want to commit to doing this more often.  I believe in the power of Paying It Forward. I believe in living as a kind and generous individual.

As Maria said, it is often easy to do nice things for people 'in our network', but considerably more difficult to help those whom we have never met.  As this project idea indicates however, it need not be!  The simple gift of a teddy bear from a stranger could have more of an impact on a child in a difficult situation than you will ever know.  Thanks for sharing Maria!


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