A row of paper snowmen can make all the difference in a child’s life. This little band of frozen friends has a special mission, to bring extra holiday cheer to mothers and children who desperately need it. On each snowman is written a gift idea, such as a baby doll, jacket, or pair of shoes. Generous Seed families select a snowman, purchase the gift and return it unwrapped to the school. The week before Christmas, we deliver all the gifts to a location that supports the Sojourner Center, a shelter for victims of domestic violence. The gifts are made available to mothers through a “store” where they can choose and personally wrap their selected items for their families.
Established in 1977, the same year the Seed was founded, the Sojourner Center is named after Sojourner Truth, the famous abolitionist. She was an activist during the Civil War who helped eliminate slavery after she herself was emancipated. Sojourner Truth was a preacher who traveled around the country spreading her message of non-violence and reform. She became a national symbol of the strength and courage it took to bring about change. I find it interesting that over the last several years, Awakening Seed has chosen to support a charity named for an individual who spent her life dedicated to bringing about change.
When the Seed was founded, part of the vision was to alleviate suffering in the world. The vision statement reads, “Suffering can be eliminated through loving kindness and compassion. This attitude is cultivated most effectively at an early age.” Programs like the Sojourner Center gift drive give young children an opportunity to practice generosity and kindness. Helping young children understand difficult concepts such as homelessness, hunger or domestic violence is not an easy task. Even though they won’t see the recipient of the gift they bring to school, it opens up the dialogue about suffering. Being a part of the process of selecting a gift for a child who is less fortunate sets the foundation for cultivating kindheartedness. Children who practice compassion as young children have a greater chance of becoming more loving and empathetic adults.
Just two days into the season, there are already a few gaps in the rows of paper snowmen hanging on the wall. As each one is selected and exchanged for a gift, it warms my heart to remember that the true gift lies in the giving. Knowing children are learning this makes it that much more meaningful. It’s a two-way gift through which everyone receives.