Thursday, March 11, 2010

Almsgiving for Little Ones

Almsgiving is an important spiritual practice that we are trying to foster in our boys, especially during this holy season of Lent. I incorporated several "almsgiving activities" in our Lenten journey calendar. Since the boys don't yet have much understanding of money, we are focusing on giving in other ways.

During the first week of Lent we sorted through their toys and chose some things to donate to children who don't have as many toys to enjoy. We donated them to Goodwill.

Last week we went through clothes and found things that didn't fit anymore or we didn't need. We donated these to a local food pantry that also distributes clothing to their clients.

This week we've been reading about the Woman at the Well, the Feeding of the 5000, and Jesus' Bread of Life Discourse. We've talked about the corporal works of mercy, especially feeding the hungry. And so today, when we went to the grocery store, I had the boys each choose a few items for us to purchase for those who are hungry and not able to purchase the food they need. We decided not to buy some of the "treats" we usually purchase so that we would have money to buy the items to donate.

It was very interesting to hear their comments and observe their decision-making processes. Ray immediately wanted to buy the things that HE likes --- Life cereal, mac and cheese, canned carrots. Adam said he thought the people would really rather have toys. Then he wanted to buy eggplant. (Not that we've ever eaten eggplant.) When push came to shove, I told him to pick out four cans of vegetables. He threw some in the cart and that was that.

When we got home we bagged up our donations and added some other items from our pantry. I made a big deal about taking a trip to a local food pantry to donate the items. On the way there, we had to detour around a big traffic accident. The errand seemed to take forever and the boys just wanted to be outside playing in the sunshine. When we arrived at the pantry, it was closed and no one was there to accept the donations. I was frustrated. Adam was oblivious. Ray was worried that "now the hungry people will have nothing to eat."

And so, we will make the actual donation another day. I think it's important for the children to actually bag the donations up and deliver them. That makes it more real for them.

The remaining two "almsgiving activities" I have planned include:

1. Donating some money from their piggy banks to a charity. We will give them some choices about that. (Unfortunately, our parish did not distribute rice bowls or anything like that. Those are really great "almsgiving projects" for children.)

2. Helping a friend or neighbor with a project. We want them to begin to experience the sacrificial joy or helping others. Any ideas or volunteers? Anyone looking for help from a 3 and 5 year old? :)

Hopefully these activities - as well as our ongoing efforts - will begin to foster hearts of service, generous Christian sharing and giving.

Lent is already halfway over! May we all continue to grow in holiness these days and always.

1 comment:

  1. One simple idea that I started doing with the boys when they were young was helping bring the neighbors trash cans back to their house after the trash man had picked up the garbage. It is simple but they can do it with little help and it teaches them to care for their neighbors. Now some mornings we don't get out their quick enough and a neighbor has done it for us instead! But they should never happen to you with the time your boys get up! Happy Almsgiving! Becky