This content was created in partnership with Ford to help make creativity a part of every drive this holiday season.
My daughter Scarlet is six and-a-half years old: a first grader! Which means that she is learning about a lot of new stuff (beyond common core math – that’s a whole other post). One thing on her mind as of late has been the idea of “community helpers” and our social responsibility to the people around us.
As Thanksgiving approaches, we’ve been using our downtime during car rides around town to discuss the things we feel grateful for (our health, our family, our home) and in turn, ways that we can help others who aren’t as lucky right now. We wanted to figure out what we could do to help.
To give you a little background: We live in Los Angeles, which means we drive everywhere. We don’t have a DVD player in the car, and I don’t hand over my phone as a means of tuning her out very often, because I like using our drive-time as time to connect. One afternoon we were discussing this topic of gratitude right as we stopped at a particular intersection near our home where we often encounter people asking for help. Scarlet always wants to give a few dollars to the man, woman, or family we see, and on this day she asks me, with a concerned look on her face, how they ended up there. I wish I could’ve explained it to her in a way that made any kind of sense, but really homelessness is a complicated topic with so many different causes. All I could say is that we don’t know their stories, or how they ended up where they are; but the people asking for help on that street corner were not much different than us, and we should feel a kinship with, and a responsibility to help, people who find themselves in that situation. Scarlet replied that it just wasn’t fair. She said that because we have a house and a car, we could help. And she was right. She is right. I want to encourage this caring spirit in her, but sometimes when we are in the car on our in-town errands, I just don’t have any bills on me. And that means we have to drive away from people in need without doing anything to help them. When this happens it breaks Scarlet’s heart, and mine too! But together, we had an idea.
So as we were mulling over what we, as a family, could do to assist our community, Scarlet said she would like to help the people we see when we are driving. I explained to her that while we are very lucky, we don’t have enough money to give everyone we meet the funds to purchase a home. However, I explained, we do have enough money to give something, maybe a type of gift, to help. I asked her what she thought that gift could be. Scarlet thought about this for a few days. She face-timed her grandmother, who volunteers at a shelter in Sacramento, to ask for advice, then she made a list of all the things she learned that someone currently without a home might like to receive. She presented me the list, and together we refined it to include things our family could afford to give (the original list started with “house” so we had to get realistic) that a person going through a hard time might like to get.
Armed with our list, we set about putting together care packages we could hand out from the car. We went shopping,
packed them up,
and then Scarlet insisted on including a piece of artwork (because “my artwork always makes you feel happy mommy, maybe it will make someone else feel happy too”).
Now every time we hop into the car, instead of complaining about boredom, Scarlet is looking for someone to help. Our family has learned so much from doing this project together. This experience opened the floodgates to conversations about appreciating what we have, and doing what we can to share it and care for others.
Click through to read the full post about our effort to Help the Homeless with Car Care Packages, and consider doing something similar with your family this season. (more…)