|The loot for donation
This post today is a little different from the previous ones. It is still Nora’s Birthday party themed. But, we are sharing what we did with her birthday gifts. If you have not already read, my fresh faced 7 year old had two parties. One with friends and one with family the following day. So that would be a lot of gifts. We had 12 girls at the party, which would mean 12 gifts. I have been to a lot of kid parties, and always struggle with what to get the kid. If I don’t know the family well I don’t know what they already have, if they are allowed to play with certain toys, among many other problems. So what we almost always end up picking is a bunch of random little things that equal one gift. Multiply that by 12 and that is a lot of “stuff”. The family party is a little different, they know here, our family, and her specific interests.
We began a discussion with Nora on how many gifts she will be getting. She had just been to a party and mentioned she thought it took a long time for her friend to get through all of his gifts. He got lots of the same ones, and it made the party feel slow. Her words. So I explained that one option would be to not open her gifts at the party, but a lot of people do like seeing their friend open the gift they gave. I prodded a little, honestly for her to come to the same conclusion Dale and I had (donate the toys). I explained she could play with her friends, do activities, have fun, and then donate to some sick kids stuck in a hospital. When I laid it out there like that she jumped on board. I was so proud of her, she never faltered from the idea. Gladly helped me word our plans on the invitations, and was eager to take them to the kids. The day of her party the kids brought a ton of toys for donation. All different sizes, genders, age group, and interests. Nora was so excited to add to the pile and see it grow. We also had many Mom’s mention the idea was wonderful and something they will do for their kids birthday. If this is a trend we start, I am thrilled. Spread it around, take it and make it into their own.
The following weekend we gathered all of the gifts in a box, with a few our kids picked out too. Nora wanted to write a note and give a picture so the kids know who she is and why she wanted them to be happy. I mean, this girl. She got “it” so well. We donated the toys to Children’s hospital of Milwaukee. They have some strict rules for donation. The toys need to be new, in original packaging, and not too big. They give a toy to a child who has a long stay and is needing some cheering up. We have been so fortunate in that none of our children have had lengthy hospital stays. Gavin had one stay when he was 6 months old for a Kidney infection (that is a whole other story) but he was so young and it was only a 2 day stay. Other then that anything my kid’s have, has has been fixed with a quick trip to their pediatrician. I cannot imagine what the families go through of long term sick children. But, the day to day was what we were trying to improve. Help them feel they are not alone, someone cares, and brighten those little kid’s faces.
I also eagerly turned this into a lesson on life for my Littles. Explaining giving, how lucky we are to give and be healthy, how kind it is for Nora to choose to do this, and how much we hope these kids get a big smile from these toys. It was a great lesson learned for all three. And a moment I was beyond proud of my selfless girl for doing this.
She wrote this note on her own while we were getting everything ready. It gave me chills to see how happy and thoughtful she was. Her understanding this was for the other kids. I am amazed by her kindness, willing to do this, and happiness in getting to do so. Not many 7 year old’s would have been this eager to give up toys. We took the toy’s to the hospital, made sure Nora was there all the way, she handed them her note. The hospital staff was shocked and moved that she was donating her Birthday toys. We were not able to go up and see any kids, for very obvious reasons. But, Nora skipped out of that hospital, she glowed and floated out of there. Dale and I were not far behind, for the same reasons Nora was. But, for reasons all our own, our parenting proud reasons. Sometimes our kids surprise us, teach us, and give love more then we could ever hope. This was one of those moments.
Since then Nora has decided next year she wants to donate things to a animal shelter. She wants to be a Veterinarian or a Zoologist, animals are her thing. She adores them, and wants to have friends bring supplies that the shelter needs. I think this tradition is one I am going to be happily passing onto each child. When they have a friend party we will have the child pick a charity or cause to have things donated to. I am not sure how we will handle it if the child does now want to. I don’t want to force this on them, but do want them to learn that a party, having friends, and celebrating their special day is so much more then the pile of gifts you get. My kid’s are not wanting for anything, and if they did get 12 new gifts it would be difficult to find places for all of them because of the other toys they already have. This is not their doing, but a side effect of the fortunate way we can provide for our kids, and the extended family who adore our kids, and shower them with gifts. Adding more from friends is not a necessity. I am not saying everyone should do this, or guilt you into forcing this in your kids. I am simply putting this out there as an idea and a alternative if you are feeling like the toy gluttony of kids parties is a little much. There are other options.
With kid’s I have realized sometime’s the things my kids can teach me are just as important as things I teach them. Her being so willing and eager to donate these gifts was touching. Something I am not sure I would have been able to do at 7. She decided to do this was an idea I put out there, but she went along with it and eagerly expanded upon it on her own. There was never hesitancy or attitude for not getting the gifts. In fact, after the family party and her new pile of gifts. All geared toward her and her love of reading and art. She got two very similar gifts, instead of using the gift receipt and getting something else she chose on her own to add it to the pile for donation. She did this quietly on her own. Yes, sometimes the lessons learned are for the parents from the children. They can surprise us in the best of ways.
What is one of your favorite causes or charities? I have lot’s of birthday parties in my future and am open to any ideas.