The dance/gymnastics studio where my daughter takes classes has decided to sponsor a local group home that houses children for Christmas. While I was was there today I was looking through the tags that had the age and sex of each child and then what the child desired. Most of the kids asked for gift cards to Walmart and then there were a handful that asked for things like Leapster games, IPODS, MP3 players, and other electronic gadgets. However, I was really surprised and incredibly saddened by the number of kids who asked for things like shoes, shirts, jeans, a winter coat. Things that are more necessities than wants. It really bothered me to think that a)these kids have no parents for whatever reason and b)simple needs became their Christmas wish.
So, I let my daughter decide what gifts we'd get and she chose a couple of kids who wanted clothes. Honestly, I am glad that those were the children she chose. They are who I would have picked. I hadn't entirely planned to explain why we were getting these kids gifts but the ever inquisitive mind of a four year old wanted to know why we were getting them presents if we didn't know them.
This led to a gentle discussion of how some people aren't as fortunate as we are and that some children sadly don't have mommies and daddies to take care of them and so we are going to help so that they can have a nice Christmas too. My daughter is extremely empathetic. It is one of the things I love most about her. She is incredibly tuned in to the feelings of others and what she perceives to be fair and to her, the thought of children in this world not having parents seems unbelievably unfair.
So, this weekend I will take her with me to help pick out clothes for these children and while I am glad we are able to do this for these children I am equally glad that my daughter gets to be a part of it and understands why we are helping those less fortunate. Based on our conversation today and her empathetic response I am very proud of her and her ability to feel compassion for those she does not know.