Having such a wide age group makes this very difficult! Our church does a day volunteering once or twice a year. We call it "Church has left the building" and we go out on a Sunday morning and serve others all over the city. Our family usually chooses to do the road side clean-up because it's something we can all do. I often have a baby on my back in the Ergo! BUT, I really don't want to clean up road sides ALL year long! I looked into some food programs but they don't like littles in tow and because of my husband's job there are a few things out of the question for us (those who know us will understand that).
Enter in Miss Dawn :0) I've known Dawn for many years and her firstborn is the same age as Caleb. We were pregnant together and were part of the most awesome mommy group ever at our church! Because of church changes and kids growing up (darn it) we don't all see each other as much as we'd like, but Dawn and I usually meet up for coffee every couple months and play catch up. During one of these times she was sharing that she really liked her new job working at one of the elementary schools in their library. Unfortunately this area that was once well off is not anymore. General Motors closed down the factory in that town and it's been all downhill since then. They are under funded and lacking in many areas. One area is parent participation. The families there are often not traditional families. Many single parents or even grandparents or relatives raising children and that leaves the school without many parent volunteers. Why does this matter? Well often schools count on volunteers to help in the "media center" and Miss Dawn is not getting much help!! She has classes coming in and out and she's reading to them and helping them check out books pretty much all of the time she's working. Guess what that means? No time to shelve books, clean tables, sort through and bar code new books, get rid of old books etc.
So guess what we are doing?? Kind of a weird volunteer idea for a homeschool family huh? We are going to Miss Dawn's elementary school once a week and helping her sort and shelve books, wipe tables and anything else she needs. I take the 3 older boys and Paul stays home with the younger girls. As the girls get older they'll join us I'm sure. The bonus is they are learning the ol' Dewey Decimal System and getting practice alphabetizing and putting things in numerical order. Doesn't sound like a big deal but when you're 7 & 10 that really gets you thinking. It's also kind of funny watching my boys take in a school setting. They really have never seen school "in action". They've been in schools but not during school hours. So they hear announcements, see kids sitting in desks or on the floor around their teacher and they hear what's expected of them as the classes come in and out of the library. It's brought up some interesting conversations on the ride home for sure. And even though it is a school filled with teachers who want the best for "their" kids it makes me more thankful for the freedom and opportunity to homeschool every time I go.
One funny thing in all of this is it's the school district my husband and I grew up in. Back in the good ol' days it was a great district people wanted to be part of and we were all very competitive. The elementary schools against each other and then the two rival high schools. In fact Miss Dawn's husband works at our rival high school so sometimes it's hard to be her friend! LOL! And Paul said, "I can't believe you're volunteering THERE!" See, he went to East and we are at West. As 8 year olds you can guess how that went right? "East is the least and West is the beeeessst"! Now poor East has been torn down (maybe it was the least! Ha!). I went to one of the other elementary schools in the area but they all look about the same! It's been fun. Dawn plans on snagging the boys into reading to some of the classes which I think is great... the boys aren't so sure about that! She keeps us busy and our goal is to do it well but fast enough we can grin at her and say, "What else?". So far that hasn't happened. But... one day it will we are just sure of it!
What simple needs are there in your community or the ones around you? How can YOU help?