Giving back is not an occasional habit but a way of life at Friends of the Children. Throughout the year, Friends frequently find ways to engage their kids in community service, and every summer, the FOTC community service committee plans a full-day service project that all are welcome to join. At this summer’s service event, called Care Day, the kids delivered lunch to local workers and tissue paper flowers to senior citizens in assisted living.
In the morning, as kids arrived at the FOTC basement with their mentors, they sat together coloring paper lunch sacks. Some were still groggy and slow-moving, even resistant to the idea of pitching in. Once everyone arrived, they formed an assembly line cranking out PB&Js and adding fruits, veggies, and cheese to the lunches. This hands-on activity woke up the stragglers, and by the time the group had produced a few dozen meals, the kids were all upbeat and eager to help. About half of the group took a van to deliver the food to laborers at a nearby immigrant center. One 12-year-old boy, Robbie*, really took the lead in finding hesitant men who hadn’t claimed a meal and approaching them with the childishly decorated bags of food. It was clear that, although he couldn’t quite articulate it, he loved reaching out to help: “That wasn’t half bad,” he said, as we walked away from the site. Meanwhile, the kids who stayed back at the office made thank you cards and delivered them to the FOTC staff.
After lunch, the group made brightly colored tissue paper flowers and passed them out to the overwhelmed but delighted residents of Marquis Piedmont. One man followed the group around the home after receiving his flower, watching them visit the other seniors. He smiled as he looked on. “I love getting to see kids,” he commented, “You know why? I raised 12.” Edna, a tiny lady who had seemed sad, promptly and wordlessly put her flower on top of her head and sat looking happy as a clam. The kids loved this and crowded around to see her; everyone agreed Edna stole the show.
When everyone circled up to reflect at the end of the day, the Friends said they were proud of the kids for their positive attitudes, and the kids expressed gratitude for the opportunity to help others. Sarah*, 15, said it best: “I liked how everyone put a lot of love into what they were doing, like we weren’t just here because we had to be or someone made us.”
*Names have been changed to protect our program youth.