I have had opportunities in my life to meet many, many different people, from many, many different backgrounds, with many, many different stories. I have always thought that the people in the best position to offer help in this world, are unfortunately the people who do not. Husband and I have always endeavoured to show our girls that they are lucky to be born in a country like Australia, where we have fresh food, clean water, free health and education systems (regardless of our opinions of these systems, it boils down to the fact that we’re lucky to have them. So many countries do not) and where we are safe from the ravages of war. We also like to show our children that they are lucky to be born into the family, and the lifestyle that we have. We are not fabulously wealthy, by any means, but we do have more than one property, we do a fair bit of travelling around Australia, we have just returned from an overseas trip to Mauritius, and we can afford for me to stay home with the children and live in the way that we want to, not the way that we have to. I know so many other families who cannot do these things. Husband and I are ever mindful that when we are finished raising our children, the rest of the world will have to live with the adults that they become. We encourage them to be helpful, thoughtful, respectful, kind and generous. We encourage an attitude of “global citizenry” which encompasses not only the planet but the people who belong to it as well.
With this in mind, when we decided to pursue a home education for Miss 5, I thought to myself ‘what an excellent reason to try volunteer work’. In offering our help to a charity, not only will we have the time on our hands to do it justice, but it will reinforce the life lessons that we are hoping to teach. And to keep it real, it ticks so many boxes as far as the curriculum goes too 🙂 We already donate clothes and toys to the local Good Sammy’s, but I began looking into animal shelters, soup kitchens and other local charities. The problem I found was most volunteer programs have an age restriction, and 5 falls waaaaaaay below the minimum. I understand why, but I must admit, I was terribly disappointed. Then one day, thanks to Facebook, I had a lightbulb moment.
As I still feed Miss 11 months 4 times a day, 4 times a day I get to sit down on the couch and check out the news online, and have a quick flick through Facebook. All of my family are on the East Coast, so Facebook is a great tool for us to stay in each other’s lives as much as possible. One day, a few weeks ago, a post appeared on my facey feed, that caught my attention. I have a friend who has been heavily involved in a charity called Boxes for Christmas for many years. Being that I have been in Perth for 3 years now, I have missed a lot of what she has been doing, but seeing this post about Boxes for Christmas reminded me. And it made me wonder if that was something Miss 5 and I could get involved with. So I messaged my friend, and through her I got in contact with a lovely lady by the name of Margaret Chivers, the founder of the charity.
Basically Boxes for Christmas organises the purchasing and distribution of Christmas gifts to elderly residents, in aged care facilities, who do not have any loved ones left in their lives. A gift from Boxes for Christmas means that an elderly friend will find something under the tree, with their name on it, on Christmas morning. Hopefully making the day a little less lonely and a little less sad. Reading about the charity, on their website here, and on their Facebook page here really touched me. And after speaking to Margaret (who incidentally, actively encourages the involvement of children and had very kind words to say about homeschooling :D), I was convinced that this was the organisation that we wanted to be a part of.
Explaining to Miss 5 what we were doing and why, was actually quite easy, and very rewarding. Easy in as much as all aspects of the work are relatable to small children. Elderly people – like Granny and Granddad – who weren’t going to get a present at Christmas time, because they had no family and no one to love them. Even Miss 2.5 could understand and relate to the concept. The rewarding part came when Miss 5s face started to droop and her eyes watered, and she said to me “mummy, that’s terrible, can we do something to help them?” She is truly an amazing, empathetic, kind little soul. We received in the post a “purple piggy” from Boxes for Christmas, which is a small, purple, rubber piggy bank. Miss 5 personalised it with her paints and named it Swanee after the Swan River here in Perth. The next step is to spread the word about Boxes for Christmas, and tell people that we only need $10 to buy an elderly friend a present. Miss 5 has been practising asking “so if you have any spare change, could I please have 5c, to feed my pig” XD In the last two weeks, my girl has raised $20! We have also requested to have a book of tickets sent to us, to sell for the upcoming Mother’s Day raffle. Miss 5 has already decided all of the people she will be taking her raffle tickets to.
With regards to the education side of things, Miss 5 is getting practice in public speaking – she has taken Swanee into Husbands office and spoken to his staff about the charity and what she is raising money for – and in this she is ticking a social box as well. She is also learning real life maths. She has a greater understanding of money, and has learned that coins have different values, and that just because there are more coins in a pile, does not necessarily mean that there is more value there. She has learned about the animals on the coins, as well as talked about the Queen and why her face is on our currency (which tied in well with a lesson we had last week when she noticed that the Union Jack was on Australia’s flag and New Zealand’s flag as well). All this and the obvious counting of the money, means that she is getting quite a lot, academically, out of her fundraising work.
But so much more importantly, she is doing something that is making her (and me too, as I’m just as committed to what we’re doing as she is), feel really good about herself, and helping others, and giving back to the community. She is making plans at a rate of knots, for other ways that we can raise money or help in some way. She has taken this little project of ours and run with it. And I am so very, very proud of her.
Please feel free to check out the Boxes for Christmas website, as it truly is a great cause. Also, while you’re online, feel free to check out our new, A Little to the Left facebook page. This blog is great for keeping track of particular topics, like this one, or a general recap of the week, but I’ve found that for the everyday stuff, that isn’t necessarily blog-worthy, I can keep track of it more efficiently on a Facebook page! So for some shameless self promotion – click the link and hit like 😉