Tag Archives: Providence Ronald McDonald House

Monday Musings: raising socially conscious kids

19 Aug
You wouldn't think that buying a doll could help others, but it can.

You wouldn’t think that buying a doll could help others, but it can.

This has been an amazing, interesting summer.

We have had our usual tons of fun at the beach, visiting with family, and taking advantage of some local tourist attractions we hadn’t visited yet.

But there’s been more than that, and it’s really had me thinking over the past week or so.

Our kids have been really trying hard to find ways to make a difference in the lives of others more than ever, this summer.  They seem to have really found a global awareness of the plight of others, to have developed a true social consciousness. I find the whole thing interesting, amazing, and of course, I’m so proud of them. They’ve always wanted to find ways to help others, they’re always asking and searching, but this summer it seems they’ve found ways on more than one occasion to put their desires to help into action.

Summer started out with Elizabeth’s birthday, which she dedicated to raising money and supplies and creating crafts for the local Ronald McDonald House. The idea was one she came up with herself, and I wrote about it here. We were so proud of her.

We are grateful to be able to help others with these bags of snacks and drinks, but those who receive them are giving blessings to us in return.

We are grateful to be able to help others with these bags of snacks and drinks, but those who receive them are giving blessings to us in return.

Then came the second Healthy Lunchtime Challenge/Kids’ State Dinner 2013, which although we didn’t attend this year, we were privy to all of the excitement that we got to read about on our Facebook group page. It was on there, that I read this article about Braeden Mannering of Bear, Delaware, this year’s HLC winner from that state. In the article I read about Braeden creating what he called his “Brae Bags,” which he keeps on hand, filled with food, water and brochures; “a soup-kitchen-to-go” as he calls them, to help people who are in need whenever he encounters them. I was particularly struck by Braeden’s idea of his bags because all of my kids are always asking what we can do to help those who are homeless or in need, whenever we pass them on the road. I never had a good answer, until I read the article about Braeden. I thought it was such a great idea that I read it to my kids and they agreed. We went out a few days later and bought supplies to fill our own bags (cereal bars, a bottle of water, fruit snacks and two pieces of hard candy) which we handed out to people as we came across them in our travels. We first filled six bags and within about seven days we filled six more. We keep them in a cardboard box in our car, ready to go. It gives us all a great feeling to be able to help someone else in need. We filled our bags with items from Dollar Tree, so it’s not a costly way to help others, and the value far outweighs the cost. Although we are helping others, it is us who leave feeling blessed. It’s reminded all of us how lucky we are and how little it takes to help someone else.

It was this tidbit that sealed the deal for Elizabeth. She fell in love with the doll and the ability to help others with her purchase.

It was this tidbit that sealed the deal for Elizabeth. She fell in love with the doll and the ability to help others with her purchase.

Recently we started to give our kids an allowance each week. It’s a new initiative at our house and so far it’s gone well. It’s good to see the girls working hard, saving money for college (part of their allowance goes into savings) and saving money for fun things they’ve always eyed but been unable to buy. Elizabeth found a new kind of doll at Target, and I was fascinated when she told me all about the Hearts for Hearts dolls and why she wanted to buy one. It turns out that each doll is from a particular country and comes with their own story. The doll she first fell in love with, as she tells it, was the one from Afghanistan, and the biggest thing for Elizabeth was that by purchasing her, learning her story, which is quite sad, she was helping girls from around the world who are less fortunate than she is. You can read more about that here. This doll is one of her top favorites and since she’s gotten her, she’s already started planning her next purchase.

And finally, for now anyway, around the same time, Elizabeth stumbled across another Target initiative. They’ve teamed up with FEED USA, to offer a wide variety of products designed to help feed children and families across the country. That’s all she needed to hear. Having gone a whole school year last year with the same backpack from the previous year, I’d promised her an update for this school year. When she saw that Target had a backpack in the lineup of items for the FEED USA program, she insisted that had to be her backpack. Each item in the product line has a number stamped on it, the number of people it will feed by your purchasing it. Her backpack which would cost $28 at full retail price (I never pay full price for anything) and would feed 28 people. She was thrilled. We had to order it online because our store is sold out of many of the FEED USA items. I used my Target Red Card which got me free shipping and saved me an additional 5% off the price and I had a $5 Target gift card as well. For $23 we fed 28 people. Since the backpack hasn’t arrived yet, I don’t have a photo to show you. Once I do, I’ll add it in.

So all in all, it’s been a great summer. We’ve spent time with family, been to the beach, a mansion, and a water park. We’ve fed 28 people across the country and helped at least seven of those who are homeless in our own community. We’ve also helped to ease the plight of girls less fortunate than us around the world and given some comfort to those whose children are receiving treatment at our local hospitals. We’ve been busier than I thought.

Our awareness of others in need and of our own blessings has been raised significantly. I can’t point to just one thing that made the difference, but rather a combination of things we’re all involved with, from church, to school to scouts, to national events, to our dinner table conversations. Whatever it is, I’ll take it. I like the socially conscious people that our children are becoming and I hope that we as parents can help to encourage that type of social awareness even further in the coming months and years so that when we let our children go out into the world on their own, we can be proud of the adults they’ve become.

It was a Ronald McDonald House Birthday Party

22 Jul
Elizabeth couldn't wait for a chance to help out the Ronald McDonald House in Providence.

Elizabeth couldn’t wait for a chance to help out the Ronald McDonald House in Providence.

I’ve always said that one of the things I love about Girl Scouts is that the kids get the chance to do things they wouldn’t normally get to do. This past spring, in March, Elizabeth had one of those chances. Her troop visited the Ronald McDonald House in Providence. The house hosts the families who have children in treatment at the nearby hospitals, no matter how long the treatment might be.

I was not a chaperone on that trip, Don took her that night. When Elizabeth came home, I asked her how it was, and it was clear to me that the visit had made quite an impression on her. She talked about all that she had seen and heard when she was there, and she said that she wanted to find a way to help out the house.

In the later part of the school year, Elizabeth began planning her 11th birthday party, which would be her first sleepover party. It was then that she told me she wanted to do something for Ronald McDonald House at her party, but she wasn’t sure what to do. Around the same time I covered a story at a local elementary school and there was a speaker there from the Ronald McDonald House.

As I listened to the speaker, taking notes for my story, I realized that there was a lot we could do to turn Elizabeth’s birthday party into a fun night of helping others. I came home and told her some of my ideas. As we talked about it, Elizabeth decided that she would incorporate her invites, her crafts and activities, her cupcakes, and even the colors of the paper goods she chose.

We kicked off our party planning and shopping with a visit to McDonalds where Elizabeth got her color scheme inspiration and took a photo with the RMH Helping Hands.

We kicked off our party planning and shopping with a visit to McDonalds where Elizabeth got her color scheme inspiration and took a photo with the RMH Helping Hands.

It wasn’t hard to get excited about this party. Elizabeth’s enthusiasm was catchy. I typed up her invitations before the end of the school year and I put the Wish List from Ronald McDonald House website on the back. Elizabeth added her own message on the front:

** A message from Elizabeth**  My theme is Ronald McDonald.  Ever since a Girl Scout field trip to the Providence Ronald McDonald House, (which by the way was spectacular) I have been inspired to do something that includes helping other other people! Now that it has come close to my birthday I went with helping the Ronald McDonald house fund. You don’t have to come with anything to donate because we’ll be making things for the house at the party, but if you would like to then the Wish List is on the back!

And then came the real fun. Elizabeth had found plates, napkins and streamers in the colors of red, orange and yellow at the dollar store. While we were there, we happened to find bright yellow t-shirts that we could decorate with the fabric markers we had at home; a great activity for the party. We decided to make covered journals and coordinating bookmarks as the craft. We’d use composition notebooks and scrapbook paper to cover them. The bookmarks would be made with the leftover scrapbook paper. These would be for the girls at the party and for the Ronald McDonald House; each guest would make one to keep and one to donate. The journals could either be for kids or adults. They could be used as diaries or for keeping notes at doctor visits or even as gratitude journals.

Around the same time, the kids saw an episode of DC Cupcakes on TV and the bakers were designing cheeseburger cupcakes. It was then that Elizabeth knew she’d found her cake. I hadn’t seen the episode myself, but the girls told me how they were made: chocolate cupcakes sliced in half to make burger patties and vanilla cupcakes sliced in half to make buns. Once assembled, fondant and frosting were used to build the “burgers.” That sounded fun and easy.

Making fondant lettuce for the "build your own burger" cupcakes for the party.

Making fondant lettuce for the “build your own burger” cupcakes for the party.

The day of the party, I used a coupon at Michaels Crafts to get a four-pack of premade fondant in red, orange and yellow. The girls each took a color and made a condiment. Elizabeth made lettuce, Caroline made ketchup and Alex made Swiss Cheese. The white frosting would be the mayo. I baked my two batches of cupcakes and set them out to cool.

These were fun and we used them for the chips and snacks at the start of the party.

These were fun and we used them for the chips and snacks at the start of the party.

Earlier in the month we’d spotted the coolest additions to the party theme: fast-food themed paper goods in the dollar bins at Target. We had plates and napkins already for some of the food, but we could definitely incorporate these items for the rest of the food. We even found similar containers shaped like hot dog holders that we could use for the cupcakes.

The night of the party arrived. All of the guests brought bags of donations for Ronald McDonald House. We had coloring books, puzzle books, toiletries and grocery items. We filled a whole basket with them. The girls decorated their t-shirts any way they wanted to. Our three decided to make theirs Ronald McDonald themed, with big red smiles. Caroline, who loves doing nails, did all the girls’ nails in yellow with big red smiles on the thumbs. So cute!

They seemed to love decorating their journals and creating special ones to put in the donation basket. As the basket filled, they were even more excited. The “build your own burger” cupcakes were fantastic. The girls got such a kick out of creating them and eating them, and they really did look just like burgers!

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Ready to deliver!

A few days after the party ended, on a Friday evening, we gathered up our family and Elizabeth got together all of the donations and off we went to Ronald McDonald House in Providence. It was exciting for me to see the house, since I’d missed the original field trip. It was fun to bring in the donations and place them in the house where the families could take a journal and where the donated items would be added to the supplies that are kept on hand for the those who need them.

All in all, this party was a huge success. It was a fun party, it was very inexpensive to put together, and it helped Elizabeth help others, which was her intention from the beginning.

Best of all though, the feeling we had from doing good for someone else, definitely takes the cake.

T-Shirt decorating time!

T-Shirt decorating time!

Below are more photos from Elizabeth’s Ronald McDonald House Birthday party.

Caroline's shirt

Caroline’s shirt

Everyone loved their covered journals!

Everyone loved their covered journals and bookmarks! Alex ran the bookmark-making station.

Ready for "Build Your Own Burger" cupcakes

Ready for “Build Your Own Burger” cupcakes

YUM!

YUM!

Ronald McDonald nails

Ronald McDonald nails

Elizabeth created Ronald McDonald smiles on a stick for all her friends to take home with them.

Elizabeth created Ronald McDonald smiles on a stick for all her friends to take home with them.