Sunday, January 18, 2009

A five year old schools his mama

My five year old son taught me about helping others last week.

Early in the week, his pre-k class made chocolate chip cookies as part of a meal the school and church were making for a homeless shelter. My son Charlie was so proud that the cookies he made would brighten the day and nourish the bodies of others.

The next day, he pointedly asked me about the big bins of baby and children's clothing I have carefully labeled and stacked in one of our closets.

"What are we doing with all those tons of clothes? Eve [his sister] and I aren't wearing them!"

I patiently explained that maybe a new baby brother or sister would join our family someday, and so we would need those clothes for him or her. To this he replied,

"Would the baby really wear all of them? What about the kids at the shelter that need clothes now?"

And he was totally right. I thought about the warm corduroy pants and fuzzy footed sleepers and woolen hats and little hooded parkas in those bins, and the freezing East Coast winter outside, and my selfishness made me ashamed. Charlie and I went through the boxes and picked out the warmest, nicest items we could find, for boys and girls in a variety of sizes, filled some bags and added them to the donations collected at the school.

It took my child's pure heart and practicality to jolt me out of my complacency and privileged bubble.

One organization that is working to feed the hungry is The Quaker Oats Company and its new campaign, Start with Substance. Start with Substance is striving to donate up to one million bowls of oatmeal to those in need.

Here's how you can help: From January 12 through February 28, for every UPC code from a Quaker Oatmeal hot cereal product you enter at, Quaker will donate one bowl of oatmeal to Share Our Strength, a childhood hunger organization. (You'll need to be a Facebook member to participate.)

I don't know about you, but this time of year my family is going through a frightening number of instant oatmeal packets for quick hot breakfasts, making this campaign one of the easiest ways to help the hungry that I've found. One guess as to what five year old is helping me remember to enter the UPC codes and pick up oatmeal at the market.

This post was written for Parent Bloggers Network as part of a sweepstakes sponsored by The Quaker Oats Company.

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