I grew up with parents who gave back to their community on a very regular basis - food drives, volunteering at the recycling center, serving dinner at the homeless shelter, doing the heavy lifting to help set up whatever, whenever. I remember being toted around with my sister to this place and that, to lend a little help...and sometimes to do something big. My mom and dad have both sat on the board of many a non-profit over the years. Volunteering was just the norm for them. The standard they have set is too high for me to ever possibly match, but I do believe there is something that every person can give. And that helping others is not just a holiday event. Sharing this with our kids can set the stage for how they will conduct themselves as they become contributing adults of our society.
Living 3 miles away from my parents, my kids spend a lot of time with their grandparents and they are now experiencing the same thing I did. Every Thursday, my 71-year-old dad meets "the guys" (his fellow volunteers) for breakfast. After they fuel up, they head over to Trader Joe's to load up whatever food the store is donating that day (usually meat, fruit and veggies, bakery items - think things that are getting close to their spoilage date. Trader Joe's is VERY generous - another reason to love that store - I mean, besides the fact that they give balloons and stickers to the kids and have great healthy food that kids will actually eat!) and they take it over to Santa Maria Urban Ministries in downtown San Jose, a facility that aids needy families with emergency food, clothing, education and more. A couple of weeks ago, my 3 little kids and I accompanied my dad on his trip to Santa Maria. My dad and I had been talking about the food needs getting larger while the aid gets smaller. And, especially since I have been talking with my kids a lot about (as we call it) The Money Problem, I thought it would be a good time to start giving the kids a real in-person taste of lending a helping hand.
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