Positive & Negative Responses to What is Service? What is Generosity?: Part 4

My daughter’s approach to service has been both positive (“what are we doing for service today?”) and negative (“do we have to drop it off today? I want to play on the computer.”). She has these responses to most activities, even those she loves like gymnastics.

She has learned that many of our activities involve organizing. Some days, organizing and transporting are the service. I’ll spare you the daily details of organizing, sorting, and drop-off for local non-profits and shelters that help families and children (Days 10-14).

Zoe has learned how many people must cooperate to get donation items, drive the donations to the pick-up person, drop off at the non-profit, some of which are in undisclosed locations in order to protect the women & children in the shelter. That was a complex lesson to communicate–that some families need protection from people in their own family who would harm them. She was ready for this knowledge and asked the questions, but she continues to question why people need to hide from their family members.

A wonderful positive gift happened to show Zoe how much people value it when someone does a good deed for them. After her failed cookie delivery to our neighbor, Zoe wanted to take her cookies the next day. I baked apple buttermilk muffin cakes, just in case those chocolate chip cookies weren’t the best, and Zoe marched to our neighbor’s house with the goods. She thanked Zoe, who skipped proudly back to our house. The next day, after making a pick-up of donated items from a local church, we arrived at home to find a Christmas bag hanging from our front door knob. Our neighbor left Zoe (&Silvie) some Christmas treats with a card that said, “An unexpected gift is the most precious.”

Zoe was thrilled. She said, “sometimes if you do something nice for someone, they can do something nice back for you, but they don’t have to. It’s not good to do something just cause you think you’ll get something. That’s not the best way at all. It causes trouble.”
Made me laugh. “What kind of trouble?” I asked.
“Thinking you’ll get something and then waiting around for it. Just waiting and waiting–that’s not a good feeling and will make some people mad at the other people. Like if they don’t get what you were thinking.”
“Good for you to learn that now,” I said. “You know it took me much longer to learn that–”
She cut me off, “Okay, I get it. Can I play a computer game now?”

Even though I know she’s only going through the motions at times, I am as well. We have our positive days and we have others when we have to force ourselves to fulfill obligations. Thankfully, we’ve enjoyed more positive giving than the tiredness that sometimes controls us.

Next week, we’re connecting with some national non-profits, so I’ll blog about those next.

What’s your approach to service in your community? Do you involve your family? If so, what are your positive experiences? And, how do you get through the negative days?

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