This past weekend marked the first hands-on service activity I’ve participated in since parenthood. For years I’ve wanted to take part in Big Sunday Weekend- a compilation of community service activities orchestrated over one weekend in May. Even though I’d have a toddler in tow, I was determined to make it happen. I couldn’t be certain how effective I would be if I brought my daughter, yet I was ready to start volunteer experiences alongside her. I scanned the event listings, and discovered a Book Drive for a local Los Angeles organization, BookEnds … This could work. Armed with plenty of reading material and my carrier, we set out to sort donated books that would reach needy schools, youth centers, literacy programs and educational organizations.
When all was said and done, it made for a great first volunteer activity with my toddler. It supported causes that I care about as an educator. I loved helping an organization who’s motto, “Kids need books to learn to read. Kids collect books to learn to lead,” addresses the importance of education, literacy and leadership through student run book drives. This opportunity was powerful for me as a parent too because I see my own daughter’s love for reading. She’ll get to see these photos of how she helped me share that love of books with other children, as well. Perhaps in later years she might use this experience to consider donating books she has outgrown, or volunteer for a book drive on her own.
There is no way of knowing yet if this will be a cause that is important to her as she begins to develop her own passions and interests. Yet, hopefully she will see that service is a skill set she’s been developing since toddlerhood, and a viable way to address the social issues that will be a part of her world.
*If you’re not in the Greater Los Angeles area to support BookEnds, you can contact them about Champion BookDrives in the U.S. or internationally. BookEnds President, Robin Keefe, also suggests hosting a book swap with other parents or your child’s friends. Extra books that are not swapped can be donated for distribution to needy schools or education-based organizations.