Last month I had the chance to participate in a backpack drive to benefit needy kids in the DC area.
This was part of a campaign that GM Northeast organized and it started with a giveaway on a local blog. My participation was small. I received a beautiful GM car, a Cadillac XTS that was already pre-filled with backpacks and school supplies. I did scour my house to find additional items I could donate. But really, all I had to do was deliver the goods on a pre-determined day. That said, the experience turned into so much more...
Here's the car. I have to say, as I continue to shop for cars, I LOVE the new features like the review camera.
I can imagine that has saved more than one life!
I had the Twofer come with me for several reasons. One, it was summer and they were not in camp that week and I had used up all of my play date favors. Two, we had a 40 minute drive into DC and I wanted their feedback on the features found in the backseat of this beautiful car (the pull up window shades were a HIT!) Three, it was the perfect time to discuss exactly WHY we were delivering a trunk load of backpacks and school supplies. They need to understand many kids start school with little else than the clothes they are wearing. Many kids don't even bring a lunchbox to school.
The girls had a moment to think about that.
After the delivery and the photo session it was time to go.
I wasn't quite done.
It felt strange to hop into my Cadillac (even if it was only a loaner) and drive back to my suburban life without somehow showing my girls what "homeless" and "needy" really means.
I wanted those words to be more than just words...in quotes. I asked the director for a short tour of the shelter.
Central Union Mission is a shelter and half-way home for homeless men in the DC area. The do, however has lots of services for families including a food bank where they give out groceries, as well as the backpack program for kids who need school supplies, and a little extra love. There is a religious element to the place but it's not overwhelming and my take is a little God never actually hurt anyone.
We saw the rooms where the men stay in their various stages of progress: the bunk room for those right off the street to the small rooms (with doors that close for privacy) for those who have stuck around and are working toward a goal (high school diploma, drug rehab).
The girls were wide eyed and asked me a few whispered questions.
What really struck me, was the kitchen.
This little kitchen serves three meals a day. It serves over 150,000 meals in a year.
That is a lot of hunger.
We got back into our fancy loaner car.
The girls as a LOT of questions.
We had a frank, open, honest discussion about just how lucky we are to have what we have. We discussed the two little girls waiting for their mom to pick up groceries at the shelter. We discussed how easy it is for people to go from ok, to needy.
I want to say a special Thank You to GM Northeast for donating to Operation Backpack, for giving me the opportunity to participate, and for the loaner car.
Have you ever taken your children to a shelter, soup kitchen, or something similar? I would love to hear what your kids thought.