Each Thanksgiving since Zoe was in the toddler program (2007) we've been participating in the school's Homebound Feast (or Homebound Food Fest... I can never remember the exact name). This year was our 6th time joining in (wow!) and since Ana will be heading off to Kindergarten in the public school next September it's our last time. (Each major activity this year is making me a little nostalgic.) I don't know how long the school has been doing this project... but I think it's such a great experience for everyone involved.
It starts out with the usual request for donations of food to help people with Thanksgiving, but then the children actually deliver the goodies to people in the school's neighborhood; people who are homebound (some elderly, some ill).
I love that the children (and teachers and some parents) actually get to see the people they are helping. Ana and her friends actually got to hand their muffins/breads/cookies/etc to specific people and wish them a Happy Thanksgiving.
It is wonderful to donate to people in need in any way you can (during the holidays or after events like Hurricane Sandy or anytime you can) but there is something special about going to the house of the people you are helping. It's a different experience than just dropping off food in a donation box in an office... or giving canned goods to the Girl Scouts... or sending a check to an organization. It's personal. It's warm and fuzzy.
I think the project just really helps little kids with the abstract idea of "helping those less fortunate". And, while it teaches them a little about community... it's fun! While a couple of children and a teacher dropped the big box of goodies inside the kindergarten and full day preschool sang the Turkey Dinner song* (I wish I had taken video... it was really cute).
Since it can be a long walk (by 2 year old standards) the toddler classes get to ride in style. :) I love that they get to participate.
Do you have other ideas for ways to get small children (under 5) involved in hands on community projects like this? These activities are always my favorite... and the kids definitely get a little something extra out of them.
Just in case you're interested... The Turkey Dinner Song...
Turkey Dinner, Turkey Dinner, Gather Round, Gather Round Who will get the drumstick? Yummy Yummy Yum-stick All sit down, All sit down
Cornbread muffins, chestnut stuffin’, pudding pie ten feet high All of us were thinner until we came to dinner Me-o my, Me-o my!
Sung to the tune of ‘Frère Jacques (Are You Sleeping)’