It's been really hard for me to wrap my head around what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School less than a week ago. Normally, I'm one who takes note of these horrific stories and then tries to shut them out of my world, avoiding the news so I don't internalize the hurt and suffering.
But this time, watching horror stories on the news day after day and hearing stories of viciously murdered kindergarteners has really broken my heart. The mama in me imagines Colin as an elementary school-age kid, and I literally have no words. Just tears.
So when I heard that my favorite former anchor of the Today Show, Ann Curry, had started a movement via twitter about doing 26 random acts of kindness to commemorate the 26 lives lost in this tragedy, I knew I was in. The tricky part is that with a sick baby and a potential snow storm today, we can't venture too far from home. So we have to start small, with things we can do from home or that require very minimal travel.
Many of you know that in my former life, before the days of stay-at-home-mommy hood, I was the volunteer coordinator at a local nonprofit. I've seen first-hand the wonderful acts of kindness that others can do, and I've already made an effort to teach Colin by example. We've delivered food and purchased Hanukkah gifts for the less fortunate.
But all of those projects have revolved around upcoming holidays, and I love the feeling of doing good because we want to. Not because we're taking part in an organized program or because others are doing it to, but because it's a right and an honor. Because it feels good to give back, and in the wake of such a monumental event, it's a great way to turn something terrible into something positive.
So Colin will help - mostly by being the cute baby that makes others smile, while his mommy does the typing, the driving, the paying and the giving. Here are our first five of our #26 Acts of Kindness:
1) Donating clothes. This is something we do regularly, and I already had a pile of stuff brewing in the closet, so it seemed like a great way to start! Because of our lovely germ-fest going on, we're going to deliver them on Sunday when daddy can watch the dude. We take our clothes to The ARK's Thrift Shop, where ARK clients can shop using vouchers and any money from other sales goes directly back into their budget to fund the awesome work they do!
2) Colin is so lucky to have four wonderful and worldly-wise great-grandparents. And because we live far away from them, we don't get to see them all that often. I thought one of our 26 Acts should be something nice for them, because honestly, if they weren't around, we wouldn't be either! Plus they are the greatest, so here is what we did:
#26 Acts #2: Going online to order and surprise C's great grandparents with photos from his six month portraits - it will definitely brighten their day"
3) This one is my favorite so far. In my work at The ARK, one thing we heard from recipients of aid from the food pantry was the exorbitant cost of diapers. And having a baby myself, I know - diapers are a necessity. So we ventured out for a (not-so) quick errand this afternoon in between Colin's naps, and here is what we did:
If you can't read it, it says, "#26 Acts: #3 Diapers are expensive! Please take and use this gift card to help defray the cost if you are in need of some assistance, and pay it forward by doing something nice for someone else." I hope that whoever sees it takes the message to heart and only takes it if they need it, instead of just seeing it as free money. While we were at Target, we did #4 too.
4) Buy 26+ grocery items for a local food bank. We chose to buy food for the JUF Uptown Cafe's pantry. I talked to Colin while we walked through the grocery aisles about why this mitzvah was important. I am pretty sure he was just interested in the cereal boxes, but hopefully he absorbs some of this :) Below is the face of a boy who needs a nap...
And 5) I've been thinking of one of our pals a lot this holiday season. She's been out of town since before Thanksgiving visiting her family, because her dad has cancer, and she wants to help him and her mom and spend as much time with him as she can. We miss having her and her baby girl around, and we hate to see their family face this kind of pain during the holiday season. Since Colin and I can't cure cancer as act number 5, instead I helped Colin send his first bouquet of flowers to a girl, his pal L, who has a sick grandpa.
I think we are off to a great start!
So, here is the fun part.
Post a comment on my other blog Adventures of the Fried-baby with your idea of a way to do something kind for others that costs $26 or less. Not only do I appreciate your ideas, but on Sunday, I'll do a drawing using a random number generator to pick a winner, and that winner will get a $25 Amazon Gift Card (since they don't sell them in $26 increments) to use to pay it forward to someone else!