Last year I noticed that my oldest son (then 8 years old) was starting to become obsessed with materialistic stuff. Always talking about the size of this or that house, the cool new toys he saw advertised, expensive cars, etc.
He wasn’t lacking anything he needed (or even wanted for that matter) but I realized that I haven’t been doing a great job at teaching him the difference between what he needs and what he wants. I knew I needed to talk to him. During our trips to the city I would give him change to give the needy, but I didn’t feel that he really understood. I started thinking of what I can do to get him more involved.
I then met these two wonderful women who ran a small organization called “A Cake from the Heart”. They would recruit people to bake birthday cakes for children whose parents really couldn’t afford to buy or bake them one.
This caught my son’s attention right away. In our house birthdays are HUGE. I love to bake so I make so many cakes for him and his brothers. A small cake for their actual birthday at home, a cake to take to school to share with their friends, a cake for their party … and each time it has a theme and a design. For him to hear that there are children who might not even get a regular simple cake for their birthday broke his heart. I decided to get my two older kids involved with this.
In one month we baked 17 cakes for needy children. We asked for their ages and tried to find out what they liked (soccer, dinosaurs, etc) so that we can make the cake as fun as possible. The boys helped me bake and design the cakes. I took the boys with me the first time we went to deliver a cake to the organization. When we stepped inside my boys saw all the second hand items that other people had donated. They saw clothes, toys, baby gear and more.
On the way home, my older son asked me what else we can do to help. He said he never thought about how hard it was for some children to just be able to afford clothes and how sad he felt for them.
We decided together that twice a year (when we declutter the house) we would take the toys and clothes that they have outgrown (or got bored of) and donate it to needy families. My son even got a few of his friends involved.
Around the holiday season we got his class involved and this year we are doing a school-wide project collecting gifts and clothes for the needy.
As hard as the experience was for him, I think it opened his eyes to a world he didn’t realize existed and helped him become a little less obsessed with the materialistic world and a little more driven with helping others.
photo credit: suzyhazelwood DSC00616-02 via photopin (license)
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