You may have noticed the collection of stars posted on our office bulletin board. Beneath the stars is a growing pile of toys, pillows, basketballs, and children’s pajamas. Tucked under the table is a brand new child’s bike. So many gifts are arriving that we’ve opened up an additional table space to hold the incoming goods. The growing mound of toys is highly attractive to our young students. Each morning upon arrival, and then again at the end of the day, numerous visitors stop to check out the items, often expressing their desire to possess one or several of the gifts. Often there are tears of disappointment when the wish to have a specific toy is strong. With this process comes a lot of explaining. As we move into December, it’s gratifying to hear those explanations.
Our community service project for the Sojourner Center is part of a long Seed tradition of giving this time of year. It opens up conversation about who will receive the gifts and the types of situations that might have placed a child or family in a position to need our assistance. We hear parents involving their child in the process of selecting a gift tag, asking what they think a child of a similar age might like. Our gift drive helps students begin to understand how giving can bring joy, sometimes even more than receiving.
Earlier this week, one family brought in a bicycle. When I was looking over the list of gift ideas from the Sojourner Center, bikes were included with a note that they were one of the most popular items. I hesitated putting up a tag for a bike, since we like to keep the items as affordable as possible. In the end, I made a few bike tags, and I was glad I did. When the bike arrived, I overheard the mom say that her kids were really excited about giving someone a bike, so they decided to donate one. I was touched by this story, and appreciative of the family’s generosity. I was also happy for the children to be in on a decision of such kindness.
Each day more and more stars disappear from the bulletin board. In return, the pile of gifts grows. It reminds me of “aparigraha,” a term in yoga philosophy that means nonhoarding or nonpossessiveness. It also means letting go and traveling light. During this season that is loaded with temptations toward material things in life, we can practice traveling light by helping those who need our generosity. As with the children who were in on the bike decision, it’s a life lesson that not only enhances our individual experiences, but ripples out in so many directions to heal the planet.
For additional information about this community service project, check out these links: