When my sons were little, we regularly “dropped in” at COA’s Family Resource Center in Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood. The center offers a free, safe, fun environment in which kids can play and parents can connect with others at a time when they feel most isolated and vulnerable. “Is this normal for a 2 year old? Is my kid the only one who still doesn’t sleep through the night? Am I a good parent?” Every session that we attended included free snacks, a special art project, and closing songs. And every once in a while, it was Bagel Day – my sons’ favorite day of all!
A local Einsteins Bros. Bagels shop occasionally donated a bag of bagels (leftovers from the day before) to the Family Center. All families were welcome to dig in and take extras home. It was a little thing on Einsteins’ part, but it meant the world to COA families, many of whom were low-income and couldn’t afford little treats like cinnamon raisin bagels from a bagel shop. Due to the size of Einsteins’ donation, most families were able to take home at least 6-8 bagels, enough to feed not only their toddler(s) but also their hungry brothers and sisters after school.
On other days, local stores donated excess toy inventory (like felt finger puppets or rubber toys) or sports teams handed out free tickets. (Yes, nosebleed…but who cares? Free tickets!)
The point here is that all gifts, no matter how small, mean so much to the recipients. Donated snacks and juice make playgroups more fun for everyone (no hungry kids!). Donated sports tickets open up new entertainment options for families on limited incomes. And even if your company doesn’t make bagels or toys or other “cool” stuff, something as simple as an employee making weekly or monthly “snack” runs to Costco or Sam’s Club and then delivering those items to a local playgroup or school is just one less thing that a harried (and usually underpaid) program director or coach has to worry about! (And there are plenty of schools, especially those serving low-income families, who would LOVE to have donated snacks for their after-school groups or sports clubs.)
Now wouldn’t that be cool: your company as the designated “Snack Superhero” for a local playgroup or school?