My daughter is just like any other kid when it comes to Halloween. She loves dressing up as her favorite characters or animals, and can’t wait to hit the pavement to squeal out Trick or Treat to anyone who will listen (and hopefully drop something into her bag). When we get home, and she dumps out all her new treasures in a big pile, you can see that pure bliss for her would be to pick one to eat, and roll around in her new bed of candy.
The thing, though, that may make my daughter a bit different from others, comes the days following Halloween. We give her candy away to those that don’t have any. We sit down in front of a pile of treats, and she picks a few that she would like to keep (she seems to have an affinity for lollipops), and we bag up the rest to donate. You’d think that the process of taking candy from a kid would be difficult, but in actuality, she truly loves giving and sharing with others.
As a parent, I think it is part of our job to instill in our children to be grateful for what we have, and to be giving to those that may not be as fortunate as ourselves. Kindness and altruism are character traits we can help shape, just as much as we can teach the basics of mathematics. Children are naturally inclined to be altruistic, and we have the ability to foster that into a second nature response as we go about our life each day.
This year we donated her candy to Operation Shoebox. Operation Shoebox is an all-volunteer grass roots organization that collects donated supplies, and ships care packages to U.S. troops based in Iraq, Afghanistan and other Middle East countries. As we all know, kids mirror what they see, so it was only fair that mommy dig into her toiletries stash, and donate all that I can. A toiletries stash you ask. Yep. My boyfriend and I are hoarders of hotel soaps, shampoos, and lotions. We keep them thinking we’ll use them one day, yet they sit there unused, overrunning our bathroom cabinet.
With a big bag of candy in one hand, and an equally large bag of toiletries, you can’t help but feel good that you are bringing a smile to someone’s face. It may not seem like much, but to those that are out there on the front lines away from home, a taste of a tootsie roll may just help them take a break from their reality, if even for a moment. As far as I see it, it is a win-win. This small gesture lets a service person know they are appreciated, my daughter learns a valuable lesson, and nothing compares to feeling like a proud mother when you see your daughter sharing on the playground, and coming up with the idea on her own to donate some of her toys to kids that don’t have any. It is the small things that lets us as parents know we did something right along the way. Thank goodness.
If you would like to learn more about Operation Shoebox, you can check them out HERE. Operation Shoebox NJ has shipped more than 73,000 total packages to U.S. military personnel, which can include bars of soap, snacks, sunblock, bug spray, batteries, cereal, and more.