Simple Service: Our local shelter

Service Project: donate items to a local shelter

Prep time: minimal

Cost: $10

Duration: 2 hours

Lesson(s) learned: real kids are in real need

How we did it:

Whenever I’ve taken my girls to donate items to those in need in the past it’s been hard for my three year old. It is too abstract of an idea. Sending items to “someone” just doesn't make sense.

Underwear and toiletries are two items that our local shelter (the Eugene Mission) is always in need of. Thinking of donating some needed items there, an idea came to me. Maybe if Ruby could put a donation in a box she decorates (like she does for her friends’ birthday parties), she would be able to understand that it was going to a real kid. I got a box out of the garage and set it on her art table so it would be ready when she woke up the next morning.

Unfortunately, Ruby seemed to wake up on the wrong side of the bed. Groggy, tired, and not in the mood to talk, she walked from her bed to mine and laid back down while the rest of the family ate breakfast.

After a while I came in and sat down next to her, “Hey Ruby!”

“I’m sleeping, Mom,” I looked at her wondering when my almost-4-year-old turn into an almost-14-year-old.

I tried again, “Ruby, today we’re going to do something super special.” Dead silence followed so I pressed on, “We’re going to make a special present for a special girl.”

She started to get interested, “Who?”

“Well, there’s a girl who doesn’t have very many clothes and we need to buy her some underwear. You can decorate the present and then we’ll go to the store and pick out some nice underwear for her and then we’ll take it to the place she lives.”

Her eyes lit up, “I have an idea, Mom! Why don’t we go to the store and buy me a present instead!”

After some back and forth convincing and explaining she was on board.  She had the idea that probably a six year old girl needed the underwear and that she could probably help make the present.

She got out of her bed and went to her art table. She decorated and decorated and talked and talked about the 6 year old girl who needed a new pair of underwear. Ivory saw the excitement and sat next to her to help out. They were both excited.

We went to the store and picked out some underwear, a book, and some Ariel shampoo. Once again Ruby mentioned that maybe she needed a present, too, but she was easier to convince this time around that the other girl needed the present more.

At the shelter Ruby marched right in and said, “I have a present for a six year old girl. Do you know her?” The woman at the front desk, though a little taken aback by her abruptness, said that she would deliver it to the children’s home. Ruby was satisfied and overall seemed to feel good about the experience.

I know the package of underwear, the book, and the Ariel shampoo are only filling a small fraction of the needs out there, but I hope today my daughter learned that a real kid needed a real pack of underwear and that it was her job to help.