Service Project: Donate items to a local children’s home/shelter
Prep time: None
Duration: 1+ hour
Lesson(s) learned: No matter where you live, there are children in your community that need your help.
How we did it:If you have children, you understand the need to regularly go through their stuff and do something with items they no longer need. Since Addie is a toddler, she seems to grow out of clothes, toys and other things on a daily basis. It’s fascinating to watch! Her 18-year-old brother, Alex, recently moved out and we decided that it would be good for Addie to move into a “big girl” bedroom (a.k.a., Alex’s old bedroom). I found it to be the perfect opportunity to guide Addie through the process of sorting through her things and setting aside items that she would like to donate.
This is such a simple and easy thing to do with your children! As a parent, there are numerous opportunities that you can use to guide your children through this fulfilling activity. I think it makes the activity much more relevant and rewarding for your children if they have prior exposure to the organization that will be receiving the donations. Perhaps it’s a local non-profit that the family found based on an internet search? Better yet, maybe it’s an organization that your children have already volunteered for? In any case, the more your children understand and connect with the mission of the organization that will be receiving the donations, the more likely your children will internalize the importance of what they are doing. Since Addie is only 2½, I still need to select the organization and thoroughly explain why we are donating items.
In addition to moving Addie into a new bedroom, we also upgraded her to a queen size bed. I knew that we would be donating crib items, changing table accessories, toddler bedding and lots of clothing. I really wanted everything to go to children that were in desperate need of these things. Many organizations are very selective about the types of items that they will accept so I recommend that you call ahead to ensure that the organization will accept your items. I thought that a children’s shelter would be the perfect recipient of our items. I called our local children's shelter, Children’s Receiving Home of Sacramento, and spoke to a donation coordinator. I outlined everything that we would likely donate and she answered enthusiastically that they would love to take it all. She explained that they are always in need of gently used (or new) items that a baby, toddler or child would use. According to their website, “The Children’s Receiving Home of Sacramento is committed to positively impacting the lives of children, youth, and families affected by abuse, neglect, behavioral health issues, and trauma in California” (http://www.crhkids.org/our-mission-vision-and-values). After talking with her and learning more about the receiving home through their website, I couldn’t wait to have Addie go through her bedroom!
We spent an entire day going through Addie’s bedroom and playroom. We gathered up a whole car load of items. It was heartwarming to hear Addie say, as she was putting her stuffed animals into a bag, “This is for a child with no home.”
Car full of donation items. Check! Toddler ready to haul everything to their secured donation shed. Check, Check!
The first item that she put in the donation shed was a bike helmet that she had grown out of. Initially, she didn’t want to let it go but when I showed her that it wouldn’t fit on her head she happily gave it up.
This is Addie putting down a bag full of bright, fluffy pillows. She had already helped me carry over her crib mattress, changing pad, and diaper pail (barely used and disinfected!).
A few more trips back and forth to the car and she held the last remaining thing….a new, plastic bath mat. We felt great donating her pack and play crib along with two big, collapsible hampers full of clothes, shoes and sippy cups!
Two days after we dropped off our donation, we received this lovely note in the mail.
Each time I perform a service activity with Addie, I’m reminded that it starts with us, the caregivers of our children. How would a young child ever know that there are other children in their community that don’t have a permanent home? How would they know that those children are in need of basic items, like a jacket or socks? They won’t unless we expose them to opportunities to help those children. It doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, some of the simplest activities can reap huge rewards for your community.
As I’m out and about in my community, I’m frequently reminded of our mission statement, which is;
Little Hands Can is dedicated to
inspiring and empowering children to
better their communities by
connecting them with
local service opportunities
This is absolutely what I want for Addie!
I hope that you have fun empowering and inspiring your children to do great things for their community!
Kelli worked in the technology industry for 20 years before taking time off to raise her daughter. She has an 18 year old son and a 2 year old daughter that have taught her how to appreciate every moment with them.