As I scrolled through my Facebook feed and read all-too-familiar status update from a fellow parent, “many back to school items purchased… very few thanks yous given” it struck me how important it is to make a conscious effort to model community service for our children in today’s all too fast-paced world. Though I constantly talk to my son about how important it is to recognize what a blessing it is to have a new pair of comfortable shoes that fits or plenty of food to eat or other things that he likely takes for granted – I want to actively involve him in activities that connect him to the importance of giving back to others, and contributing to the good of our community including other children and families.
Thankfully, with a little further scrolling through Facebook and a bit of intentional digging for information I know, but needed a refresher and reminder of, I was able to identify three really great ways families can involve their children in charitable serving and giving in Fresno in the coming weeks. Check out the opportunities below – and if you participate, we’d love to have you come back and share about your experience either here in the comments section or on our Facebook page.
Option 1: Attend the annual Empty Bowls: Kids and Family Bowl Making Day
Hosted by Clay Mix Gallery and Studio at 1003 N. Abby Street in Downtown Fresno, families can attend this special event on Saturday, September 10th between 10am and 4pm. Each family member will have the opportunity to make their very own ceramic bowl (with help – don’t worry if you’ve never made a ceramic bowl before), and for an $8 donation for adults, and a $5 donation for children, each family member may keep their special, one-of-a-kind bowls.
All proceeds from the event benefit the Fresno Community Food Bank – the Valley’s largest non-profit providing food to those in need throughout Fresno County. One of the greatest things about supporting the Food Bank, is the strength of their partnerships with food suppliers. These partnerships allow the Food Bank to really stretch funds, and provide more food to families and seniors who need it most, than we could as individuals, as every $1 raised or donated is turned into seven meals by the Food Bank. A family of four creating their own bowls would provide 182 meals! To RSVP for the event, click here.
Option 2: Volunteer to help pack bags at Feed Our Future Fresno
Feed Our Future Fresno serves the very specific needs of children and families living through the condition of food scarcity. These families often rely heavily upon school breakfast and lunch programs, as they are unable to provide consistent and nutritious food at home either due to unstable housing situations and a lack of access to a full kitchen, family emergencies or times of extreme hardship. Many of these families do not have the means to eat three meals a day over the weekend, and that’s where Feed Our Future Fresno (FOFF) comes in.
Started by two local mothers, shocked and moved by the number of kids going hungry over the weekends, FOFF collects non-perishable and easy to prepare food items and packages them into bags for children to take home on Fridays from school, to help ensure their families continue to eat when school is not in session. FOFF began with serving one school, Addams Elementary located at McKinley and 99 in Fresno and last year expanded to begin serving a second school, Tilley Elementary near Clinton and 99. FOFF has consistently provided weekly food packs for children at both schools, and has their si ghts set on continuing to expand to additional schools in the future.
FOFF needs the help of volunteers of all ages to help pack bags on the first and third Tuesday of each month. Morning or evening shifts are available, and the responsibilities include assembling food bags and packing them into bins for transport to schools. To sign up to volunteer, visit their Volunteer Spot calendar here.
Option 3: Serve a Meal to Families Staying at the Ronald McDonald House
On any given evening, 18 families are staying at the Ronald McDonald House next to Valley Children’s Hospital, wishing they didn’t need to be there, and instead we home with all of their family healthy and well. For these families, the home-y comforts of the Ronald McDonald House offer a bit of normalcy and refuge from the stress of experiencing a severe health issue and hospitalization of a family member – most typically a child. In order to provide some additional sense of routine and peace for families, as well as cost-savings seeing as the alternative would be purchasing hospital or fast food, the Ronald McDonald House gratefully accepts the help of volunteer groups willing to come to cook and serve a meal at the House. Breakfast, lunch or dinner are all options, and a fully equipped kitchen is ready and waiting for families who wish to serve others in this way.
You don’t have to be a chef du cuisine to provide some the comfort of a home-cooked meal to a family struggling through the illness of a loved one, just a family who cares and has one crowd-pleasing recipe, the ability to purchase a few groceries and a willing heart. I’ve personally had the opportunity to do this in the past, and it was an extremely rewarding experience that I would recommend to anyone. For information on providing a Meal from the Heart at the Ronald McDonald House, visit their webpage and FAQs on the topic here.
So there you have it! Three really great, all-age friendly ways you can contribute to our community, teach children to be cheerful givers and to be a bit more grateful for the things they take for granted, and really make a difference to those who are in need and so appreciate your help. Happy volunteering!