To help our kids experience Lent, their dad suggested that each week they perform some act of service or help someone in need. The first week it was obvious who we were going to help: the Japanese. The kids decided we'd buy bottles of water, give it away, and if we got any donations we'd give it to the Salvation Army for their work in Japan.
I went to CVS and was thrilled to find 24 bottles of water on sale for $3.99. I grabbed three cases. While I was standing at the cashier's register I told her what the girls were up to. "Oh, that's so nice. Here's a $5 coupon towards the water," she said. So, the water cost us about $7.
The girls and I made posters and then put the cases of water in a baby stroller. We walked to our local hospital with our signs and bottles and hung out near the parking lot on the sidewalk. In an hour we had collected $75! Not bad for free water! One moment I will never forget is when an Asian looking man pulled over and asked if any of us was from Japan. "No, this child's from China, these two are from Africa, and our friends here are from Mexico and the Dominican Republic. I'm just a native New Yorker." He looked at us surprised. "My father is Japanese," he said. "Thank you for doing this."
The next week the girls made two trays of lasagna and a gigantic salad, and we brought it to a homeless shelter that runs a parenting support group. The ladies were thrilled. I was more thrilled that the girls made this meal entirely by themselves!
The following week the girls' dad suggested that we sort out clothes that we don't need and give it to a veterans group. The kids were not into this project and I ended up spending hours sorting through twenty years' worth of clothes. Unfortunately, the driver of the veterans' truck also thought we were donating our baby stroller which I had parked outside. I managed to hop on the truck before it pulled away and grabbed it out of the back.
This week we are going to go door-to-door to collect breakfast foods for a local food pantry. A lady who volunteers there told me recently that they never have enough coffee, so we're going to do a "Have a Java Drive." The girls have half a day of school of tomorrow so we can get started on it.
I have to say that the kids have been willing participants in all this but this past week their giving spirit reached new heights. We went to see Watoto perform. This is a group of two dozen orphans from Uganda who spend a year singing for free at concerts and requesting support for their orphanage/village. Watato seems to be an extraordinary charitable enterprise and the girls were mesmerized by the children (ages 7 to 14). We went to see them a second time. We plan to see them at least one more time during their east coast tour. The beautiful thing that happened was after seeing them one of our princesses announced that she wants to give her entire savings account (more than $800 of hard-earned cash from two years of work as well as every penny she ever found, and from cash gifts from doting grandparents) to the children of Watoto so they can go to school, buy clothes and have food to eat!
I am humbled by this child's kindness. It's so clear that her generosity and love makes the Lord really happy, too. And that was the point of our Lenten activities.
Peace to all...