The Gift of Giving – Freecycle…
In keeping with this month’s NaBloPoMo theme of giving to someone every day this month, today I gave the gift of finally volunteering as moderator for my local Freecycle group. I’ve been asked a few times over the years, but didn’t feel I could do it along with my other volunteer responsibilities and family and working at home, etc.. And now we’re trying to get the house repaired so we can move for real in a few months. I have to be honest, there’s been a lot of fear over letting people down.
If you are not familiar with Freecycle, it’s a great grass-roots type organization. Just people like you and me in our communities, primarily with the goal of keeping things out of the landfills by giving them away to others. And secondarily it’s also become a way for communities to support each other and simply give freely, regardless of perceived class or status, etc.. Everything must be free, no bartering or money exchange allowed. Everything is handled through a Yahoo Group; you post your things on the group, wait for responses and choose a taker. Then they come pick it up. Even broken things – there are plenty of folks who enjoy or are willing to fix things up. And it’s a great way to network to find oddball parts too. (Or at least so I have found.) Freecycle rocks.
Freecycle has been a great experience for our family over the years. It’s been a way to get some fast decluttering done, but also, it’s been a wonderful tool for our kids to think about giving to others too. More than once our local Freecycle group has been able to respond to an emergency situation for a family, much faster than an agency could. Fires, deaths, foster families, tornadoes, Katrina survivors – our local group has helped with them all over the years.
I remember one case where a man gained custody of his children, but their mother sent them with nothing but the clothes on their backs. He was able to provide clothes and furniture, but he had no toys for them and money was tight. He asked for help to give them something to tide them over. My husband was deployed and we were having trouble making ends meet too. But I knew we could make a difference. I brought my kids in and talked to them. “Remember me saying that there are kids out there who have no toys? Today you will get to meet some.”
I explained to my children how these kids had no toys at all and had just moved here. And I asked my kids – did they think perhaps they could find some nice (unbroken) toys from their stuff that they could give away? Amazingly, my kids excitedly jumped up and enthusiastically got to work. Things they never wanted to let go of before, were suddenly being pulled out. They even pulled out some clothes. And they got to meet those kids and share with them.
I can’t tell you how rewarding it was for my kids, and how happy they were to have made a difference and in a way they could see and relate to. I think it was a wonderful lesson in life. And I think perhaps too it showed how kids naturally thrive in a state of giving.
Well, so anyway, I will volunteer to help with being a group moderator. Laurie, the main moderator I’ve become friends with over the years is a wonderful and giving person. And she often seems to be handling it all on her own. I’m happy to help.