Sunday, November 3, 2013

Birthday Mini-Service Project

This year, my birthday came quick.  It is true, what they say- that as you age time goes by much more swiftly.
At my niece's wedding this summer with my man 

When I went to my eye appointment (new glasses needed) my eye doctor joked with me..."27 years old, right?"  I laughed, but took this chance to sort of be a warrior of happy thoughts.

"No way- I would never go back. I have earned these years, and I love my life!"

So 43 it is.  I never understood people who didn't want others to know how old they are, or seemed embarrassed because they aren't a young thirty-something.  I am a grown-up, and on a good day I might act like one! But it is bliss.

Anyway, I had heard about people doing acts of service for each year on their birthday.  This adorable blog shows a man and his family making his random acts of kindness list come true on his birthday. I love that!

Recent articles, however, about how the food banks are getting low due to pay and job changes (less then 30 hours a week to avoid healthcare costs) have bothered me.  We have an amazing woman nearby who literally woke up and decided to open a food bank- without government help. I wondered how I could help her out before Thanksgiving.

I felt like this was my birthday act- give her little pantry a boost.

A Facebook post and Instagram shot got the ball rolling, and then I asked clients coming over if they would be willing to bring a can or two of food.

After 2 days the box I had set out was completely full- and someone left a flat of soup on my porch too.  That was also a fun thing about this project, people did it anonymously for me.  I had no idea which one of my friends and neighbors were leaving goodies.  It was a fun element I didn't expect.

I had a goal to get 43 items- but that was done within 3 days.  I had planned a week of gathering food.
I even picked up items from a few people who couldn't make it to my house. The boxes got more full, and the flats stacked up.

We went to a store and bought cold supplies, fruits snacks, just random things that looked like they would add variety to our donation.  I am 'couponer' so that was full in affect, to get more for my money!

The day we took our donation this is what my stash looked like:

I was probably well over 200 items, including toiletries and personal care items.
It was actually sort of overwhelming to see it all gathered up together- took our family of 5 two trips each to get it all loaded, as food isn't exactly light!  This small little goal reminded me of how much we can do when we help each other.  Had I tried to save up for all of these things I would have gotten a little overwhelmed, but when a few handful of people just brought a little bag of things it really accumulated fast.

We delivered the items with very little fanfare.  The workers at the pantry were busy hanging clothes (there is also a thrift store there) and serving the line of people waiting for their turn to get food.  We dropped it all off and were on our way.  I liked that, because I think it's important for my kids to serve without a lot of hype.

So my project is over and done.  But I had to blog about how it affected me.

First off, I loved that people who know me were so willing to support me.  Every day I would walk out to my porch to see new bags set quietly in my box, with no idea who brought it.  I kept thinking to myself 'People are so good- we just need an excuse to SHOW IT!' I felt happy all week as my project grew.

Second off, I wasn't thinking about my birthday.  I attached the number to it just to do it, but all week I kept looking at what was brought, thinking about buying a few more little things to add, and trying to decide when to take it.  I had a friend ask me- what are your big plans for your birthday? And I didn't have any...and that didn't bother me.  I honestly just didn't care that week about what I was doing. (Don't worry, I am no saint- I found plenty for my hubby to do for me! Can you say 'bookshelves and curtains'?)  It was just refreshing to arrive on my birthday and not really care.

Third- and last- was that I DID IT.  It was more then just cleaning out my closet and donating the no longer wanted stuff (although that is great, too) but it was ON PURPOSE.  I guess it was easier than I thought it would be, and took little effort.  I know, as a mom especially, there were things in there that will bless lives who are in need of it right now.  And having done this successfully, I can say...I will tackle this (or some other fun project) again next year.

I am grateful for the blog I found and the birthday acts of kindness and how they have inspired so many people to do the same thing- here's to hoping my birthday will make your next birthday a little better.

  I call that grown up.