Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Public Service Announcement: Meals on Wheels

Based on a conversation last night, I realized I haven't really chatted much about Meals on Wheels.  That we do it has popped up, I think, but not how truly awesome it's been for our family.  I figured I'd write it up here, because it seems to come up a lot in face-to-face conversations about how to do more service with young kids.

I'll be honest: I had serious doubts that Meals on Wheels could go well with three children 6 and under.  When I signed up the first month, it was for ONE go-round.  How bad could an hour be?  We had such a blast that first month that we're now on the rotation for the last 5 months.

What I liked about the idea in general:

(1) Our church does it once a month, so there's no way it will get dropped no matter how busy we are.  We can always make time for an hour a month.

(2) It gives my children a chance to meet a demographic that isn't really in our life.  We see a lot of kids and moms, but not really elderly persons.  I always loved visiting nursing homes as a child, and this is a way to serve people who deserve some kindness after giving to the world all these years.

(3) It only takes an hour.  This seemed like a perfect child-friendly option.  

What I LOVE now that we've been doing it for 5 months:

(1) The people on the route adore seeing the kids.  Last month, Jack brought pictures for everyone on the route.  This time, they not only remembered his pictures, but Evelyn had pom-pom-balls and scissors waiting for when he came, so he could make her more.  

(2) We have some amazing conversations in the car about why bodies break, when people die, why some of the persons are sleeping when we come even though it's the middle of the day.  It's exploding their understanding of the complexity of life stages, and I think good things are coming out of it.  

(3) My children absolutely love it.  When I tell them it's Meals on Wheels day, they dress faster than any other thing in our life.  All three say something along the lines of, "I don't want them to get hungry waiting for us!"  Teaching my children that they are needed and can give valued service back to the community is an incredible side effect.  I wasn't really predicting that. 

(4) They are building relationships.  When we get in the car after one drop-off, they're excited to hear who the next person is.  Andrew: "Oh, John is next? He was wearing a blue shirt last time.  I remember him."   My children have never once acted like this is some duty in their lives, but something really special to them.  I know it's because it's about people and not just a vague sense of helping.  I like that they are meeting the persons they're helping.

Those are the highlights, but I'm sure there are more.

No comments: