As a parent and grandparent, I am amazed at the way my young granddaughter can delight in the magical moment of “now.” She can be skipping with smiles of joy, singing loudly and joyfully and un-self-consciously, and just enjoying life. But within seconds, upon seeing another child crying or a sign about a lost dog, she turns sad and curious and wants to help. The tender heart of children – with their innate compassion – such a gift!
At the same time, I decry the affluenza (epidemic of overconsumption) of our society and the amount of money spent on superfluous things such as expensive Halloween costumes and pet luxuries, and the lure of expensive designer labels on clothes, equipment, bottled water (!?) that influences my grandchildren (and me!) and makes them want more and better… And I can become dismayed and critical.
Little Girls, Big Hearts
But then, the generosity and goodwill of children reaching out to other children shows more fully the compassionate nature of youth who are nurtured to see beyond themselves. They want to make a difference!
That is the story of two young girls whose hearts were touched when they learned about children who were surviving but experiencing deep poverty.
Ava celebrated her 9th birthday much like other children, with a party and presents. But for her party, Ava asked the kids she invited to bring presents for other children – those who did not have toys or new clothes, or even a home to live in. Her friends responded with great generosity and brought new, beautiful, fun toys to give to families in the Family Mentor Alliance program – those who were homeless or just recently moved out of homelessness.
Children Understand the Gift of Giving
Another young lady was deeply moved when her family “adopted” another family experiencing homelessness in the Family Mentor Alliance program. She decided she wanted to do something on her own for other children in poverty, and sometime other than Christmastime. She worked for six months doing chores and earned $100. This summer she and her mom went shopping with the money she earned and bought 12 baskets, filling them with coloring books, candy, bracelets, stickers, and playing cards. The family assembled the baskets together and delivered them to the Mission to be given to children. The children who receive the baskets are so excited and thankful!
As I consider these tender hearts that spur these precious children to such sweet acts of generosity and kindness, I am reminded of Jesus instructions in Matthew 18:3 – And Jesus said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. “ My prayer is that my heart will be so sensitive and my hands so open like these two young ladies!
There are many opportunities to bless children and families who are experiencing poverty and homelessness as these young ladies showed! Mentor teams are now forming and being trained to walk alongside a family as they move out of homelessness. Call Michelle, 884-2771 at FMA for more information.
Michelle Swanson is new in the role of the Director of Family Mentor Alliance, but is not new to FMA. She and her husband Doug have served on mentor teams with 3 families, walking alongside them as they moved from homelessness to housed. Michelle loves working with families, and partnering with faith communities and local organizations in the fight against homelessness.