Reflections on our Trail Cleanup Project

Reflections on our Trail Cleanup Project

Our Experience

The sun rose over the mountaintop as we opened the breakfast bag given to volunteers. I bounced Everly in the ergo to keep her from fussing.Teams of teenagers completing mandated community-service hours congregated next to buff mountain bikers ready to give back to the trails. And there we were: me, a woman not exactly known for her strength, and my 18 month-old daughter, clinging to her fisher-price shovel. Not long after we got there, my husband arrived with our 4 year-old son, we grabbed a pair of clippers and headed for the trails.

clipping
“I’ve never seen volunteers that young before,” a ranger muttered. “Future rangers of America,” I answered proudly. When we got to our assigned area, we were instructed to look for fennel. Apparently, it isn’t indegenious to the area, and it takes water away from other plants. My husband was actually doing some work clipping while I followed Everly around, trying to make sure she didn’t eat any of the trail mix that she had dropped in the dirt. Scott came back and informed us that the rest of the fennel was located in an area replete with poisonous plants, and we realized that there really wasn’t much more we could do to help. The ranger told us to take a walk, to enjoy the day.

trail

Reflections

Because of sharp tools and poisonous plants, this project is probably better suited for older volunteers. However, I’m still glad we went. Why? I like the idea that we spent our Saturday learning about the environment. I like that my son is learning that it is important to participate in community service days, and I like that he was talking to me later on about how he helped “get that fennel” so that other plants could grow. I know there are people out there doing more important, helpful things, and I hope we will be more like those people in the future, but, for now, I’m grateful for the experience, and I’m also grateful that my daughter didn’t ingest dirty raisins or poison oak.

Want to do something like this with your family?

If your kids are a bit older, or if you want to try something like this regardless, you can see my post “Taking Care of the Environment” for tips on how to get started. Do you have any tips on how to help kids take care of the environment? If so please share them! Also, if you are interested, click here to start a club of your own. Thank you so much for reading, and let’s go serve our community on purpose.

Showing Love to those Suffering from Illness

Showing Love to those Suffering from Illness

our April Project

Recently, I’ve gotten to know some awesome people who are doing great things. One such person is Amy Lehman. When she found out about our club, she emailed me to let me know that her daughter, Kaitlyn, had recently overcome cancer. Dedicated to mobilizing people in the community, Amy is involved with a wonderful organization that supports local families who are dealing with pediatric cancer. After hanging up the phone with Amy, I resolved to work with the Bumblebee Foundation to put together something to encourage families who have kids with cancer. Heather, the founder of the foundation, suggested that we make Easter baskets to give to four different families; thus, our April Project was born.

Since we’ve started working on this, it has been amazing to see how generous people have been in donating items for the Easter baskets. We have four coordinators who are working to collect donations, and all of them are receiving generous donations. One of my friends even encouraged her daughter to sell lemonade to support Dylan, a 2 year old with eye cancer. Members of the group have donated their own services (photography, massage, etc.), and we’ve also received donations from Trader Joe’s and other businesses. So much kindness. Our baskets are “due” next week, and I still need to take my son to Target to pick out some Legos for one of the baskets, but as I’ve watched the collections grow, I’ve been so excited to think that the parents and kids who have spent hours in the hospital will receive a few things that might brighten their days.

donations

Are you interested in doing something like this with people you know? Here are a few tips to help you get started.

1. Contact your local hospital: Call the hospital in your community and ask them if they know of any local charities that support those dealing with cancer or other illnesses. If so, give them a call and follow the steps below. If there aren’t any charitable organizations in your area, ask the hospital if they will allow you to bring gifts to families at the hospital who are dealing with difficult illnesses.

2. Plan a theme for your gifts: we decided on Easter baskets because it is almost Easter, but you can plan your theme around any holiday. Having a theme to organize your donations around is helpful for participants, and if you are crafty (I’m not), this can help you make things pretty.

3. Collect Donations: ask the person in contact with the family (or families) what kind of donations would be most helpful. You can make one basket for the person who is sick, or you can make “baskets” for each member of the family. After you decide on this, think creatively about how to solicit donations. Use social media, visit local businesses, or make things yourself. This part is fun!

4. Deliver the Gifts:  talk to the hospital or foundation about the best way to deliver the gifts. You may not be able to do this yourself, but the important thing is that the families are receiving the donations.

5. (Optional): Share your experience: post pictures of your donations on our Facebook page, or share a “success story” with us on the blog. The more we talk about service, the more other people want to be a part of the fun.

resources

It can be difficult to talk to our kids about the fact that others are dealing with illnesses, but I believe that it is important for them to be aware of what is going on in the world so they can develop compassion. Here are a few resources that might be helpful. If you know of any others, please share them!

Books

1. Franklin Goes to the Hospital: This sweet book is about a turtle who has to go to the hospital to get his broken shell fixed. It is geared toward younger readers, and it deals with the theme of courage.

2. Harry Goes to the Hospital: Written by a doctor, this book deals with a young boy who is staying in the hospital. Harry doesn’t like dealing with all of the tests and other challenges, but he feels loved and supported.

 Video

1. #Rallyon for Kids with Childhood Cancer: this music video shows kids who have cancer playing and experiencing hope. This is a good one to show kids to start talking with them about the issue. Please watch and share: every view earns $1 towards cancer research.

I personally haven’t known the agony of watching one of my children go through cancer, but I have respect and compassion towards anyone who has. Let’s work together to make families dealing with cancer feel acknowledged, loved, and supported. If you have any thoughts on this post, or if you have other ideas about how we can show love, please let us know. Also, if you are interested, click here to start a club of your own.  Thank you so much for reading, and let’s go love people on purpose.