Today’s post comes from Kate Hannigan Issa, co-author of The Good Fun! Book: 12 Months of Parties That Celebrate Service.
“Mulsh? Well, I love it.”
That was an exchange I had a few times with my kindergartner last month as we worked together on a playground build with KaBoom, a nonprofit that provides play spaces in underserved communities around the country.
My kindergartner was beside himself with joy that he got to use a shovel and tackle an enormous pile of woodchips. To him, the hard work of moving a 6-foot pile of mulch and spreading it under the bright red play equipment was all fun. And he happily worked on that mulch pile for 90 minutes without a single complaint.
For his dad and me, we took joy in his excitement in wanting to help out. His big brother and sister, a third-grader and fifth-grader, were delighted to grab some equipment and get to work too – showing enthusiasm unlike anything we see at home when it’s time to make the beds or pick up the abandoned Legos.
What made the Kaboom service day special was that our kids immediately recognized they were part of something bigger than themselves. More than 400 volunteers had turned out – the build took place on Make a Difference Day – and there was a spirit in the air that was palpable, even for the youngest volunteers.
“This is so fun,” my daughter said as she tossed scoop after scoop of woodchips onto bright blue tarps. “I wish we could do this again next weekend.”
That sentiment rang true with me too, and I wondered about our typical Saturday schedule of soccer games and ballet lessons and puppy training classes. Sometimes life feels too busy for activities like this.
But once per month? Or once each season? That feels more realistic.
By volunteering as a family to work together on the Kaboom build, we offered our kids a break from the routine, showing them that a service activity was important enough that all five of us should be involved. And we shared a day together as a family. With our hectic schedules, that felt priceless.
As parents, working side by side with our kids on a volunteer project provided a rare opportunity to cultivate the intangibles in life: empathy, compassion, social justice, the power of the group, pride in a job well-done.
And for the kids, they took obvious pride in what they’d helped accomplish. In one afternoon, they saw an empty field transform into an enormous playground with tempting equipment. It was clear in their comments and in their faces that they were genuinely happy for the kids who were going to get to enjoy this incredible new space. They were connecting the dots.
“These kids are so lucky,” my third-grade son said as he surveyed the shiny new slides and monkey bars.
And as I stood there beside my three kids, I thought, Yes, but they’re not the only lucky ones. With volunteering, the good goes both ways.
We headed for the parking lot after a long day of physical work, and the aches in our shoulders were satisfying in a way. All of us were still marveling at the playground we were leaving behind.
“What’s this stuff called?” my often forgetful kindergartner asked me again as we turned in our equipment.
“Right, mulsh. Can I keep the shovel?”
Kate Hannigan Issa is the co-author of “The Good Fun! Book: 12 Months of Parties That Celebrate Service” (Blue Marlin, 2010) along with Karen Duncan. Learn more about the book at www.thegoodfunbook.com.
Get HandsOn Tag Challenge Update!
Yesterday’s Get HandsOn Tag Master was Mei Zheng! Mei has won a pair of round trip tickets on JetBlue, $25 for themself, and $100 for their favorite charity!
Today’s Celebrity Tag is will.i.am! Tag will.i.am for swag!