Helping Hands Playdates have started! They are designed for the youngest Little Hands, babies-5 years old, to see how they can positively impact the world around them by learning about and doing service. The setting is a retirement community so the young children come with a parent/caregiver and interact with 'wise' folks. Everyone, young and old, works together to do a special service project after learning about the need through story and song.
At our first ever Happy Helpers Playdate, our theme was homelessness. That might seem like a weighty topic for toddlers but the kids did great with it. Here in Eugene there are a lot of homeless people so the kids are used to seeing people out begging for money at the side of the road. We learned that everyone, no matter your age, can help. We started the playdate off with a little storytime featuring a book about an animal who had lost his home. We explained what it means to be homeless and introduced the project of the day, making hygiene kits for the Eugene Mission. The Mission receives lots and lots of samples of toiletry items and wanted help putting them in a more accessible format. We put shampoo, conditioner, and soap in a little bag along with a flyer telling the hours and location of the mission. They will use these in outreach programs. Along with assembling kits, Happy Helpers could color placemats for Meals on Wheels, play, and eat a snack.
At our November Happy Helpers Playdate just days before Veteran's Day, we focused on those who serve our country in the armed forces. We sang patriotic songs and read stories of soldier fathers and helping others. We decorated pillowcases for soldiers in combat hospitals and colored pictures to be sent with care packages to deployed soldiers.
What I love about these Playdates is that these very young children see that they can make a difference for good in the world. The things we talk about are big topics for people so young but we break it down into songs and stories the kids can readily understand. The highlight of each Playdate is actually doing something about the theme, showing the kids that little hands CAN.
Join us at our next Happy Helpers Playdate, December 5, 2016 as we decorate Christmas cards to be placed on each bed at the Eugene Misson on Christmas Eve.