These are strange and difficult times we parents are in. Most especially for those of us with school-aged children. As a mother of eight - six of which are elementary, middle school, high school and college aged, I'm witnessing the effects of 'School at Home' first-hand. From much-anticipated school functions, events and programs cancelled indefinitely to the social woes of not seeing their friends and classmates every day, children are reeling from the effects of Covid-19. Don't even get me started on the joy of online learning. Oh, and the insane amount of food my children are consuming?! It's astonishing. Their appetites have literally quadrupled in quarantine. (Heck, to be honest, mine has too!)
As a mother, I can't help but worry about those without. I've read and listened to countless news reports pertaining to the amount of children that will go to bed and wake up in the morning with empty bellies because their only reliable source of food and warm meals were the schools that are now closed. I am proud to say that I live in a community that has overwhelmingly responded to those stories and reached out to those families and there are plenty of programs in place to ensure that our neighbors do not go to sleep hungry.
But as my children were crafting and creating their little mess-making hearts out the other day at the dining room table (for the 100th time that day), it got me thinking about the kids without school supplies at home. The children that don't have access to books and reading materials without school. I began going through our surplus supply of new pens, pencils, markers, paper and crayons. I had my children go through our gently read books and collect the ones that could go to new homes. We had so much to give. But, how do we do it during this time of social distancing while adhering to the stay at home orders?
I decided to dig out the vegetable growing stand that I had created last summer for the kids. I cleaned it up, added a shelf and a few metal baskets to create an Art Cart full of gently used books and school/art supplies all wiped down & sanitized - free for anyone that needs them. We set it out at the end of our driveway with a homemade sign. I took a few pictures and shared them on social media in hopes to get the word out.
In the past few days, my children have excitedly watched from the front window as children have stopped to pick out a book or grab a pack of crayons and a coloring book (or both!) They've happily waved to the families and given them a "thumbs-up".
Mister Rogers taught us to "look for the helpers". I hope to teach my children to BE the helpers whenever possible in times of confusion and distress. To simply do what you can, when you can. Even if it seems small - any act of kindness may be big to someone else.
We WILL get through this, my friends. And we WILL do it together!