by Jennifer Glose, Business Manager
As my children and I sat down to Thanksgiving dinner this year, the turkey seemed a bit moister, the yams incredibly sweeter, and the family stories so much more meaningful.
Less than a week before Thanksgiving dinner, my 12-year-old son, 8-year-old daughter and I volunteered for the Allentown Rescue Mission’s Thanks for Giving Food and Supplies Drive. This event was a two day effort held at local Giant and Wal-Mart food stores in order to collect food and supplies for the homeless people of the Lehigh Valley.
What an amazing learning experience for my children!
Since I am a communications major at Cedar Crest College, I could not help but observe the interactions between my children and the many types of people that they came in contact with during those two days.
My son actually made quite a few friends during those the experience, ranging from different genders, ages, and races. In fact, one man my son befriended was an older gentleman, who dropped off an entire carload of canned yams and boxed stuffing. The gracious man kept stopping by to see if my son was hungry or cold and even brought him a small apple pie to eat while he was volunteering.
During the event, a gracious woman dropped off a vanload of socks, underwear, and handmade blankets for the homeless. As my daughter helped the woman unload the van, she could not help but smile from ear to ear, feeling comfort in knowing that so many homeless people would be warm this year thanks to this woman.
As the food and supplies drive progressed, our hands and feet started to feel pain from the cold. But, in thinking about what the homeless people of the Lehigh Valley must go through in these harsh times of the year, my kids and I pushed on.
As my daughter shivered, sipping on her hot chocolate, she gleamed with a bright chocolaty smile.
“This is really fun!” she exclaimed.
My son’s cheeks were red from the late fall air, but his smile and enthusiasm continued to encourage customers to come out of the store with more and more items for the homeless.
“I am so glad I came to help, Mom!” he expressed.
Our first family volunteer experience to help the homeless at Thanksgiving will be one of our most cherished family memories. The family unity that we shared on those days, as well as the many friendships that we formed, are what we gave thanks for the most at our dinner table this Thanksgiving. I am grateful to be able to show my children a good example in the importance of volunteering and in the many lives that volunteering can touch. Most importantly, volunteering plants a seed in children’s lives, which will help them grow into giving adults.