Ok – this post has nothing to do with quilting or sewing and everything to do with service to one’s community, helping those who need it, and bragging about one of my kids. Sorry, I can’t help it – but I am so dang proud of her so I decided to write about this. Plus, it may inspire another family to do a similar project once they see how easy this came together.
Our family has always felt the importance of volunteer work. My parents instilled it in me and my sisters from a long ways back. I have tried to instill it into my children as they grew up. Because of this, Julia is already an active volunteer in our community. She has been helping at the local food ministry since she was about five years old. For the past four years she has volunteered at the thrift store benefiting the animal shelter off and on as her school schedule allows.
Julia and I were recently talking about other ways she could actively volunteer in the community. She wanted a project that was ‘all hers’. She wanted to think of it, organize it and carry it out on her own. After some discussion, she decided to hold a Toiletries Drive for the shelter. To do this she first got permission from her principal to hold the event at school. Then she approached the shelter and asked for a ‘wish list’ of what they needed in this regard. They were thrilled to give her a list of items such as toothpaste, tooth brushes, hand sanitizer, antibiotic creams, antacids, deodorant, lip balm, band aids, and many other items along these lines.
Julia’s next step was to create a little brochure which she posted at school and gave to the principal and school secretary. They both posted it on various avenues of communication with the students and parents. I posted her project on my personal Facebook account so my local friends and neighbors would know what she was trying to do. Oh. My. Gosh. The response to Julia’s project was just awesome.
She specifically suggested people donate all of those free little shampoos and lotions that one collects from hotel visits which often seem to linger on in the bathroom cabinet. She also proposed cash donations and promised to use them wisely to purchase what was needed. People from everywhere donated. Kids, moms and teachers at her school brought items in. Neighbors, friends and family members donated money. She ended up with bags and bags of items plus $245 in cash donations.
Yesterday she and I went to the local dollar store. She carefully counted and selected items from the list. It took quite a while to fill the cart but she heaped it with all sorts of supplies.
Calculating what she had spent, keeping notes on how many of each item she had selected, and figuring out what the tax would be was quite the process. She wanted to spend all of the money but not exceed the $245.00. She did great and has about $10 left over which we will take to the dollar store once more to buy a few more things. We didn’t dare go get more items on that trip. It took the cashier forever to ring up more than 200 items as I boxed them up and Julia tracked the costs. The other customers in line were so patient and kind. They could see she was doing a project and if they asked, she would explain it. One older gentleman chuckled and said ‘oh phew, I thought that was all for you.’ It was so nice to see everyone being supportive and sort of cheering her on rather than grumbling about having to wait behind her for a bit.
This picture makes me smile – she has a receipt that is about three feet long!
In addition to collecting from friends and kids at school, Julia also asked two of our family dentists for donations. One dentist donated a carton of toothpaste tubes and the other dentist gave her a box of toothbrushes. This is one generous community we live in!
There is so much value in a project like this! For one, she learned to define the steps needed to get this going. She approached adults – at school, at the homeless shelter and the local dentists – on her own – to ask for permission and support of her project. She lugged supplies home, posted signs at school, promoted the project on her social media account and will finish up by bringing the donations to the shelter next week. She also plans to write thank you notes for many of the donations. If I think about how projects are done in the professional realm, many of these steps are the same. I feel like this was a hugely valuable experience for Julia.
Honestly, it wasn’t all that difficult. I would strongly recommend something like this if your family is looking for a way to give back to the community. If your kiddos are younger, you might want to be more hands-on and supportive. As a teenager, Julia required only a little coaching here and there but truly she did 90% of the work herself.
I am really proud of this girl and she is (rightfully) proud of herself. She likes the fact that she started this, kept to a timeline that she developed, and was very successful. If you have any questions about implementing a project like this, feel free to ask. These are the times when parenting is so gratifying; when we see one of our kids giving time and energy in a selfless manner.
And now just a quick Thanksgiving recap: We had a great holiday! Very quiet with only three of us celebrating together but so much fun. I also held my first big sale in the shop. Orders kept me busy and I truly appreciate each of the orders I received, some from blog friends and others from new customers – thank you so much for supporting my business!