School is well under way and I don’t doubt that if your child is in a private or public school, the invitations from the PTA to jump in and help out at school have been pouring in. Perhaps your children’s teachers are sending our pleas for help. “Come be a room parent!” “Come be a reading helper!” “Could you help organize classroom parties?” ” I need someone to help collate and sort homework folders.” You know what I mean 🙂 I always find this part of the school year both exciting and stressful. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to step inside the classroom and be with my kids during their school day. Then again, I eye that calendar and the precious few hours I have in the day for the endless list and I wrestle with deciding exactly how much time to spend and where! This post isn’t about trying to convince you of the merits of being involved with your children’s school, But rather to open the eyes of our hearts to see how simple acts of service in the schools can bring glory to His name and bless many in the process.
This particular story blessed me immensely and reminded me that my time in the classroom or on the PTA board isn’t just for the sake of my own kids but so that the Lord can use whatever time I have to offer as a blessing to an entire classroom, their parents, the staff, or even the entire school. I’m so thrilled to introduce you all to a friend of mine – one of those fabulous gals that you wish your life afforded more opportunities for your paths to cross and to spend time together. We met years ago working together on a benefit dinner for a local Pregnancy Resource Center. I was so blessed when I heard how Sara took upon herself what many might consider a burdensome task and turned it into something that blessed God’s heart – and others. I just knew I wanted to have her share her story here with you! Please welcome Sara!
My 3rd grade daughter Rebecca has a severe allergy to several foods. Early on in our experience with public school, I decided it would be essential for Rebecca’s safety for me to help coordinate the food for the classroom parties. That way I could monitor what was brought in to the classroom – and many times that meant actually being the one providing the food. Let me be honest here – I do not enjoy baking nor do I enjoy having all the attention and responsibility of being the “room party parent.”
As 3rd grade rolled around, and I once again put down my name to be the mom in charge of party snacks only to find out that also meant I was the “entire party planning mom” as well – SURPRISE!!!. To say the least I was not excited. I’ve never been a fan of over – indulgent parties where the focus is simply on entertaining the kids and in which all decorations, parties supplies and then the left over foods are dumped in the trash a mere one hour later. You mean to tell me it’s now my JOB to coordinate these parties?
However, I decided to take this unwelcome job seriously and I said to the Lord, “You must have some reason for this”. First up off the bat, I threw the Halloween party and everything went fine. But again my heart was discontented – kids tend to get so much, they are so wired up at the end of a party, and they don’t learn anything from the experience! I wanted to change that!
So, that is when I started to think about what the Holiday/Christmas party could be this year. I wanted to do something that would change everyone’s perspective. I brainstormed the idea of them serving the community and came up with the idea putting together gift packs for members of the San Rafael homeless community. It was perfect! God had a plan for this no class party, snack mom after all.
I asked the teacher and she loved it. So I asked the families via email to contribute. I didn’t simply ask for the items we needed, but shared my vision of how participating would give their children the opportunity to serve our local community. The parents loved it. It was amazing! Fifty of each item: 50 packs of gum, 50 toothbrushes, 50 tubes of toothpaste, 50 pairs of socks, 50 protein bars, 50 beanies, 50 travel deodorants, 50 combs, 50 water bottles, 50 bars of soap.
The day of the party finally came. The kids were so excited. The kids made a card with a note for each and slipped one of each item into a large Ziploc. Over hot chocolate and breakfast muffins, I told our class that our family would deliver the bags to the homeless community on behalf of the class just before Christmas. I”m so pleased that the class parents loved it.
Our family was all prepped and ready. My parents were in town and joined the delivery, too. We took our bags to the local St Vincent’s food kitchen. I was surprised that even the community center staff were so excited. They told us that the bags would be given to the first 50 men and women who came to their annual Christmas Eve dinner. It was one of the greatest things we have ever done as a family and my parents felt this was the best Christmas visit ever. It was a little scary for the girls; they had never experienced seeing the homeless community up-close and personal. It was a teachable moment for all of us.
I am so amazed and humbled how the Lord could take a simple classroom job and turn it into a life-changing experience not only for the children in the class but also for our family. As a direct result, my 3rd grader has a wonderful heart for the homeless. She’s even used her own allowance to purchase a meal for a man on the corner, one that she had seen on the way to Awana, and insisted on taking it back to him. Her heart is changed and so is mine. I now look at these simple classroom helper jobs as an opportunity to love others and make a small contribution to care for those God cares about and maybe, just maybe I can set an example for an entire classroom of children 🙂
Sara is mom to two sweet girls and passionately partners with her husband Ben in ministering to the people of Marin County. Thanks Sara for sharing with us today!