We have more toys than we know what to do with.
The vast majority of the toys in our possession are currently suffocating under the lids of clear storage containers, which are confined behind metal rolling doors at our local storage facility, frozen in time as their owners quickly outgrow them. Two storage units full of stuff since February of 2016.
Stuff we have clearly been able to live without for almost two years.
The storage units are filled with the things we didn’t give away that wouldn’t fit into our 720 square foot house, or into our current 1200 square foot rental.
When our new house is finally built and we hoist all of our stored things there it will feel like Christmas as we open boxes! Or, maybe a little bit like we picked up a grab box of miscellaneous things at the local Goodwill store. 😉
I am thinking I may have a yard sale in my future!
Well, I am happy to say that our children haven’t really missed a beat with all the moves and with the reduction of their things. But somehow I still have those moments where I smack my head and wonder how on Earth there is still so much stuff in their room. I look around and struggle to figure out how a floor can be covered in such an array of toys when 80% of their toys and half of their stuffed animals are in storage (or have been sold or donated…..shhhh!).
Sometimes, as I step over fragments of marble towers, Barbie shoes, Legos and dirty clothes I spiral into a speech of entitlement and the importance of respecting and taking care of one’s things. As I do so, I wonder if all of the ears of the children living in third-world countries are burning as I reference how they would take better care of the toys. The toys I see thrown onto the floor instead of being placed lovingly back into their proper bin or basket.
Is Target to blame? HomeGoods? Is that where it all begins? Is it the fault of those box stores and the cute bins and baskets stacked on their shelves, empty and begging to be filled with marble tower parts, train tracks, cars and Barbie things? Are they the reason behind the excessive toys? Bins bought and then filled?
No. I am pretty sure it is the other way around. Toys beget the basket and bin business.
Anyway, as I ramble to my littles about why one should take care of one’s things, they usually look at me, eyes slightly absent from the lecture reel that is unrolling freely from my tongue, half-digesting the fact that there are many, many children who don’t have a fraction of what they have.
It is similar to the speech I opine over green beans and what not. You know the speech.
Back in my day, when I walked uphill both ways to school 😉 I had a handful of cherished toys. And, as far as I can remember, I took pretty good care of them. I believe this is evidenced by my Fisher Price castle that is still going strong thirty-eight or thirty-nine years later. See! I have proof!
I know I am not managing the material/toy thing the best that I can. As a matter of fact, I am confident there are many, many parents out there who have it figured out much better than I do.
But, in all of those moments of frustration, where I talk about their excessive possessions (which are admittedly my fault), I am thankful I have real opportunities for my kids to give back and gain a real perspective of children who are in different circumstances than theirs.
We have been members of a group, in our community, called Little Helpers for several years.
Little Helpers holds monthly service projects designed to give little hearts and hands opportunities to become involved in their community, understand the importance of volunteering, see the blessings in their own lives and gain a sense of accomplishment from helping others.
Through Little Helpers, we have been able to make and take blankets to a homeless shelter. We toured the facility and learned the importance of the operation while gaining awareness about needs within our very own community. The children were able to create something, with their own hands, that would go on to be used by someone in need.
They left the shelter with a new understanding and full hearts wanting to go back and help again.
“For it is in giving that we receive.” – St. Francis of Assisi
Another month, we decorated and filled bags for homeless children for the Project Night Night organization. Through the activity the kids learned there are children who are homeless who don’t own a book or a blanket. The kids were able to decorate a bag and fill it with a book, a stuffed animal and a blanket. They learned that not every child has hundreds of books lining shelves in their room because not every child has a home.
A couple of years ago, Little Helpers partnered with a local church and helped bag potatoes at the Mooresville Christian Mission, which is a local organization that helps people living in poverty. The Christian Mission believes,
“The kindest thing that we can do for those living in poverty is to offer hope, believe in their abilities to move beyond poverty, and to help them obtain the skills to become self-sufficient.”
And they do. The food pantry, where we bagged potatoes, is one of the many pillars of support they provide to the community.
This past weekend our Little Helpers group partnered with a group called Kids for Kindness to paint tiles for children who are hospitalized. As the children painted and created they knew they were giving something important to a child, just like them, who needs a splash of joy in a battle for health.
It was also nice to learn more about another organization that was founded out of the desire to teach compassion, kindness and giving to our children.
We will think and talk about the children who will receive the tiles and how the tiles might make them feel. We will think about the battle they are fighting and will hope and pray for them.
And, I know my son, who has a newfound love for baseball, will sit and wonder about the boy or girl who received his carefully painted baseball tile. He will think about that child for a long time. They are in his heart.
I am eternally thankful for the wonderful women who lead these two organizations locally, who help provide organized and thoughtful activities for our children to grow beyond their existence in kindness, love and charitable work. Thanks to them, it is easier to provide my children with valuable experiences in giving.
And, even though my children continue to leave things laying all over the floor versus using the lovely bins I have purchased using a portion of their college funds, they are learning the importance of kindness and charitable work. And, they are learning about the different facets of our world and our community versus that which resides within their bubble.
If you are interested in getting your children involved, there might be a Little Helpers near you. Find them on FaceBook or email LittleHelpersKindKids@gmail.com. Or, reach out to Stacey at Kids for Kindness to see how you might be able to participate here in Lake Norman or start something similar in your community.
“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” – Aesop
Aesop and His Fables
Aesop was a Greek story teller, who is known for a collection of fables known as Aesop’s Fables. Many of the fables have animal characters or inanimate objects with human characteristics that speak and solve problems. Tales that are credited to him were gathered over the centuries.
Ancient sources have scattered details of Aesop’s life, including indications that he was a slave who was born around 620 BC. The location of his birth is disputed, as is the cause of his death.
Aesop’s Fables is a collection of tales credited to Aesop, who was a storyteller believed to have lived between 620 and 564 BC. The stories began from oral tradition and weren’t compiled until over three centuries after Aesop’s death. By then, various other stories were credited to him even though the material came from outside the Greek culture. More stories continued to be added to his fables even though it was demonstrated they were from other authors.
Aesop’s Fables were used in the teaching of children and still are today. Some of the more notable titles are:
The Ant and the Grasshopper, The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing, The Tortoise and the Hare and The Boy Who Cried Wolf