|Shelter Room (Apartment) Makeover!|
Last weekend I volunteered for a project with “My Girlfriend’s House”. They were doing one day makeovers in all of the apartment units in a shelter in Washington DC. When I heard about it I wanted to be involved so that I could see all of that KINDNESS go down! But the ironic part was, the kindest bit of all didn’t really have anything to do with the painting, cleaning, and hauling in and out furniture.
The kindest bit was Lauren. She is “five and a half” (the half is important when you are her age!) and showed up with her mom Melissa in the afternoon. When she came I was frantically working to put the children’s bedroom back together. Another team had painted it a beautiful purple. I had worked with a teammate to put together some donated bunk beds. But we still needed to get a LOT done before our afternoon deadline when the family would come home for the big reveal!! So when little Lauren showed up, I put her to work!
|Lauren sweeping up the room!|
We took a big pile of donated shoes and paired them up to display in an under-bed roller cart. We helped fold donated clothes and put them in a dresser. We cleaned. And we did what I know was Lauren’s favorite part – put wall stickers up! Oh we had flowers and hearts and swirls – it was a little girl’s dream.
|These walls could use some PRETTY STICKERS!!|
And then it was time for the TOYS… There were lots of toys that people had donated for the 3 little girls who live in the apartment. There were books, crayons, bracelets, etc. But I didn’t realize until we were unpacking them and finding fun places to display them that Lauren herself had donated some of the toys!! Yes siree, she was kind enough to give those girls she had never met some of HER toys! And it was all going really well, she was admiring the toys as we unpacked them but not upset about giving them away, until we came to a pretty puzzle that must have been a favorite… But she was a trooper, one quick little talk with Mom and she was ok giving them her prized puzzle! J
But it was that quick little breakdown that touched me. Seeing her eyes fill with concern and sadness – sure, she had agreed to share her toys, but did she have to share THAT ONE??? That’s what made me realize what a sacrifice it was for her, and how amazingly kind it was. I mean, lots of kids probably go through their toy boxes and pick a few things out to donate to the Salvation Army (knowing that they don’t play with them anymore and that new toys are sure to replace them soon…). But Lauren was going a step further – she had chosen what to give, then was smack dab in the middle of the actual GIVING! She was organizing her own toys in some other girls’ room for THEM to play with! And THAT, my friends, that is kind!!
|What a kind little kid|
I didn’t have time to talk about her generosity while we were there (we were busy finishing the room!) but have since talked with her and her mom to learn a bit more about the whole thing. Here is what they told me:
Melissa said that they teach Lauren to always be kind, no matter what, and always treat everyone the same. The family donates a lot to charities and volunteers whenever they can. Melissa told me, “Last year, Lauren saw a piece of mail from UNICEF or something like that with a picture of a malnourished child on the envelope. She said she wanted to help sick kids. So she did a lemonade stand to raise money for a charity. She raised $44 for a foundation called Stillbrave who helps families with children with cancer.” Isn’t that awesome?? She saw a photo and TOOK ACTION and helped out the best way she could! I asked Lauren about the lemonade stand and why she did it. She told me it was for “sick kids” J and that she is going to have ANOTHER lemonade stand! She stressed that there will also be cookies. J And as we talked she came up with an awesome new idea to raise money for sick kids – a HOT CHOCOLATE STAND in cold weather!! You go, girl!!
Melissa said that she explained to Lauren about the shelter makeover by saying that their friend, Miss Becky, knew a family that needs help - a nice home and some new things/toys. It was, “A little follow by example I guess J” Melissa told me.
|We were almost done with the room here!|
I asked Lauren how she felt giving the toys to the other girls and she said, “”Happy”. She is a girl of few words, that Lauren. Her mom said it was not too hard to convince her to donate toys, “I told her that she has many toys, and there are some that she doesn't play with that would be nice to give some to a child that doesn't have many nice toys.” Lauren said some of the toys she gave were things she got as a baby. I asked her which toys she thought the girls would like best and she didn’t hesitate, “THE DOLLS!”. She had given them these super pretty magnetic doll sets. I could tell by the way she handled them as we were looking for a new home for them that she really treasured those.
Lauren and her mom were still there for the big reveal, and Lauren got to meet the mom who lives in the apartment and ask her about the kids. Melissa thinks that Lauren actually SEEING where her donations will be used helped, and I agree. The whole experience was more “real” I bet because she unpacked those toys and got them ready for the kids.
Way to raise a Kindness Activist, Melissa. It was an honor to pair up and put away tiny shoes with your daughter.
Do you know a kind kid or adult?? Please tell me about them! The world needs more kindness, and by talking about kind actions, we can inspire others!! Email me at email@example.com and follow me on Twitter - @kindactivist
· For more information about Stillbrave, the organization that Lauren supported with her lemonade stand money, see this website Stillbrave (And hey, now that I look at that website, I see it is someone I recognize, Tattoo Tom!! He worked with Gabriella Miller, whose family started Smashing Walnuts!)
· For more information about My Girlfriend’s House, the organization that ran the shelter apartment makeovers, see this website My Girlfriend's House