Friday, October 2, 2009

The Helper Jar

A few Christmases ago I read a book about a jar that a family kept full of loose change. It was a pretty predictible, feel-good kind of book, but from it sprang our family's idea for "The Helper Jar."We emptied a peanut butter jar, slit the top and collected loose change until the jar was filled. We've filled it twice now and both times our kids have been thrilled with the entire process--from collecting the change, taking it to the bank, shopping, and delivering.The first time the jar was full, we bought books for the Children's ER at GHS. Ella Grace spent Christmas Day of 2007 in the ER and we were all appalled at the condition of the books they brought us to pass the time. Our family loves books and so this was the perfect choice! Our kids picked books from the Scholastic Readers that came home from school, and we all delivered them to a very excited staff.

Recently our jar was filled again! This time we decided to donate to Miracle Hill Children's Home. This is the home where Little Man was before he came to us. We decided to purchase art supplies since our kids love crafts! Back to school time was the perfect time to shop! We got a lot for our money--we filled our cart with crayons, glue, stickers, coloring books, scissors, and craft kits we got on clearance from Hobby Lobby. . . We packaged everything up in bins so that they wouldn't have a lot of work to do once they got everything.

Our family gains much from giving in this small way. We never miss the amount of money that we collect (both times we've been surprised at how much a peanut butter jar can hold). Instead we gain the experience of helping people enjoy something that we often take for granted.Hoping you'll join us; we're filling our jar again! Here's some things we've learned as we've gone through the process:
  • Don't rush the filling of the jar. We usually take a year to fill the jar.
  • Don't rush the decision of what to do with what you've collected. It usually takes us a few months to decide what to do.
  • Choose something that your kids can get involved in. We've focused on places/ministries that serve children specifically and have purchased items that our kids are "into" so that they don't lose interest in or excitment from giving.
  • Keep pennies and silver separate. Pennies take up volume and don't offer much value. Even the smallest kiddos involved can figure out the difference.
  • Have fun! Let your kids have some freedom in the choosing.
  • Check with the organization/charity that you'll be donating to. Ask if they could use the items that you want to donate. If not, ask what their needs are or find another charity that is in need of your idea.

Can't wait to hear your stories!


carolinagirl said...

What a great idea, Mary Beth! Thanks for sharing.

Maven of Savin' said...

That is such a great idea. What a way to involve the kids and teachthem the value of saving AND giving. THANKS