Monday, April 20, 2009

Community Service

"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world." -- Anne Frank

We are our kids' greatest teachers. More than anyone else, they will remember what we taught them. And that goes for what we model as what as what we talk to them about.

My son's scout troop does a cleanup at one of the local schools as a thank-you for letting them use the gym for pack meetings. The pack partners with one of the local Girl Scout troops and they also get to help. We did that recently. The parents brought the kids and some yard tools and we spent about 45 minutes pulling dead plants, raking leaves and picking up trash around the school grounds. It was cold and windy but the kids had a good time and they did a good job for the school. Afterwards the pack paid for a wildlife expert to bring in some wild animals -- a lemur, a skunk, a python and some others. The kids got to learn some things about the animals and touch them, too.

This is something in which the kids can take pride. When they get out of the car in the morning, or when they walk past after school, or hear someone comment on how nice the school looks, they can feel good they've made a difference. They're learning that life isn't just about themselves.

The pack is also doing a food drive and collecting old cell phones to be properly disposed of instead of just thrown into the trash, where they can leach chemicals into the groundwater.

In addition to the scouts, the school collects "pennies for patients" to help with medical expenses. The Awanas group they go to collects supplies for the local homeless shelter and food for the food bank. All around, they have good role models to show them how to be a positive community member.

Some ideas for community service are to volunteer with the Boy Scouts or Girl scouts, serve on the PTA or help at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen. You could also donate old toys and clothes, which has the added benefit of decluttering your house.

What are you showing your kids, either through words or deeds?

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