Given that it's the holiday season, I wanted to find a way to pay it forward. It's something that I don't do nearly enough of plus, though my daughter is only 3, it's important to me to start teaching her compassion at a young age. Yahoo! gave me the opportunity to get started, via their Ripples of Kindness Campaign. Can one good deed inspire others and create a ripple of kindness? Based on my experience, I would argue that the answer is yes. Though based on the age of my daughter, I would have done at least one thing differently.
I decided that Promises 2 Kids, a cause recently brought to my attention, was the perfect place to start. They offer a broad array of services to help San Diego's kids in need, including the Polinsky Children's Center, the County's only emergency shelter for abused and neglected kids. They provide protection, shelter and support for nearly 3000 kids each year. Have you ever thought about where kids go after being yanked out of domestic violence and similar situations? This is it. And can you imagine the emotional trauma these kids might experience? It's gut wrenching.
Their wish list includes sporting equipment for the kids, a concept I rightfully thought my daughter would grasp. She understood we were headed out to buy soccer balls, footballs and basketballs for boys and girls who did not live with their mommies and daddies. She was very excited and I let her pick out some of the items. We matched Yahoo! donation and loaded up our car.
We headed over to Promises 2 Kids. I explained that we were dropping off the balls, and though there are kids that live at the facility, we would not see them. I repeated this over and over again. We hauled in our huge bags, filled out donation forms, chatted with the staff, and left. It was so easy and rewarding, that I will certainly do it again. Then the questions started rolling in.
"Mommy, where are the kids?"
"We can't see them, because it's for their own protection." (Should have thought of a better answer.)
Silence. Her wheels were spinning.
Gulp. I explained that sometimes bad things happen and that this is where kids go when they do.
"Are they sad?"
"Some might be, but that's why we brought them some things to play with. This is the very best place these kids can be."
We drove in silence the entire way home. On hindsight, I really wish I would have practiced my answers to her inevitable questions. It's a heavy topic for a 3 year old, but she still talks about these boys and girls every so often. However, I'm positive that she now understands:
- That there are boys and girls who aren't as fortunate as she is.
- We bought a car full of stuff and gave it to them.
- That it's nice to be nice.
She's still young, but I truly believe children learn by doing, and the message won't stick unless her father and I continue to pay it forward. I still feel warm and fuzzy about what we did, and have been inspired to contribute to other organizations over the last few weeks, though I can do better. If you've performed a recent random act of kindness, I'd love to hear about it.
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*Katie Dillon writes La Jolla Mom, an award winning lifestyle site about food, travel, parenting, homekeeping, and local happenings. She lives in La Jolla with her husband and preschool aged daughter, and is a proud member of the Yahoo! Motherboard.