A Summer Project that Gives Back

I’m no meteorologist, but I think its safe to say we’ve officially entered severe weather season in the midwest.  And while I like watching a thunderstorm roll in as much as the next Iowan (side note: Did anyone else’s grandpa used to run out onto the porch when the sirens would go off to see the storm that was coming?), it’s inevitable that over the next few months, we’ll also see pictures, T.V. footage, and maybe (hopefully not) in-person destruction that some of these storms leave behind.

Usually, I make some sort of donation to the American Red Cross when something happens; but after I’ve fired off my donation text, I move on with my life–my kids none the wiser.

Now that my kids are older, I want them to know when I’m making a donation to something.  I want to model for them the importance of donating to causes that my husband and I find important.  However, this is something that I’ve struggled with for a while.  Usually, I text a donation to the Red Cross and even when I point this out to my kids it doesn’t seem quite as meaningful.  After all, they don’t see the cellphone bill with the extra charge, and even if they did I’m not sure they have a strong enough grasp on the idea of money to understand what it really means anyway.  (Case-in-point: Last week my 6 year old asked if our house cost more than $50.)

cwsA few years ago, my mom was visiting my kids for a few days during the summer and when they greeted her at the door she said to them (as she always does) “I’ve got a big project for us to work on!”  Usually, the projects are whatever kits are on an end-cap at the local craft store, but this time she pulled a shopping list out of her purse and we headed out to the closest big box store.  My mom had the kids buy things to make Hygiene Kits from the Church World Service (CWS) organization.  At that time they had put out the call for an urgent need for the kits and she decided that she and the kids could help fulfill their request.  The kids had a great time buying the items on the list, making the kits (assembly line style on my kitchen counters) and sending them off with my mom to mail to CWS.  Assembling the kits also prompted questions like “Why can’t these people just go buy their own toothbrushes?, Why did the tornado happen in their town? How will we know who gets this stuff?”

Here’s the thing about donating goods or money to a well-established organization like CWS.  First (and probably the most obvious) CWS is a well-stablished organization and I know they won’t be taking off with my money (or items I donate).  Second, CWS works with people on the ground in disaster areas in order to coordinate with them when and what kinds of goods are needed on the ground.

If you’re interested in making up a few kits with your kids this summer, you can find a list of the various kits on their website.   The kits range in price, size, and need, so it might be a good idea to check the website for updated kit needs.  Also, before you start assembling the kits, make sure to read all of the requirements for assembling a kit.  For example, on 6/4/14 CWS put out an urgent call for school kits.  The estimated cost to assemble 1 kit is $15, but the kit assembly requires sewing, which takes me out of the equation!  Here are a list of the kits, I hope one of them will appeal to you and yours!

Hygiene Kit ($10)

School Kit ($15)–requires sewing, eek!

Baby Care Kit ($39)

Bucket Kit ($56)

Kate lives in Iowa City with her husband (Matt) and three kids, ages 7, 5, and 2. She works at the Belin-Blank Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development at the University of Iowa. She earned her PhD in Curriculum and Supervision in 2012. Prior to working at the University, she taught high school mathematics at many public schools in Iowa. Kate has also coached junior high and high school cheerleading squads for 10 years. Kate has a personal blog http://katedegner.wordpress.com . . . stop by and relive your junior high and high school mathematics classes! (without the anxiety or the homework :) )


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