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Faith In Action: Long-term - Toy And Book Drive
Activity time: 20 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Copies of Leader Resource 2, Toy and Book Drive Letter
Preparation for Activity
- Confer with the director of religious education, minister, or social action committee to determine a local agency or organization that has need of new or gently used toys and books.
- Contact the agency or organization you have chosen and find out what sorts of toys and books they need.
- Invite a worker or trained volunteer from the agency or organization to tell the children and adult congregation members about the group's mission and the population it serves. Set up a visit during coffee hour or another time that coincides with a scheduled session of Moral Tales. Be sure that the visitor knows they will be talking to a group that includes young children.
- Inform parents about the scheduled visit from the organization or agency representative and about the toy and book drive by customizing Leader Resource, Toy and Book Drive Letter to Parents and distributing by email or as a handout for children to take home.
- Obtain permission to place collection boxes and signs in area organizations, such as the local library, as well as at your congregational meeting space.
Description of Activity
This Faith in Action activity translates belief in the value of generosity into the act of being generous. It is based on the notion that mature spirituality includes compassion and generosity. All major world religions include charity as an important aspect of religious life. Participants will have the opportunity to develop empathy and compassion as they think about and work to meet the needs of children who do not have access to many toys or books.
In addition to generosity and compassion, the children also experience the spiritual practices of gratitude and humility. Encourage them to notice their own blessings, as they give to others.
Children in second and third grade are often very compassionate and concerned when they recognize injustice. Participation in a concrete service project provides them with an outlet for their concern and empowers them as agents of justice. Guide them to see how their actions express our Unitarian Universalist Principles, which promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person, as well as justice, equity and compassion in human relations. Through participation in this or similar projects, children will learn that one aspect of a religious life is serving others and being responsive to their human needs.
To introduce this project, say, in your own words:
In the story you heard about Uthman ibn Affan, he gave away a caravan's worth of food, for free, to people who did not have enough to eat. In our community, there are children who do not have enough toys and books. We are going to learn more about what these children need, and gather toys and books to give them for free, just like Uthman ibn Affan.
Tell the children about the toy and book drive and the people and organization who will receive the donations. Encourage the children to go through their own toys and books and choose a few gently used or never-used things to give away to a child who does not have so much.
Future Planning: Decorating Signs and Collection Boxes
Set up a table during coffee hour for the children and adult volunteers to make and decorate signs for the toy drive. Make signs to publicize the drive as well as signs to identify the boxes where you will collect items.
Be sure the signs identify the agency or organization that will receive the donations as well as your congregation, and particularly the children in Moral Tales, as the organizers of the drive. You can also include a list of items the charitable agency or organization has requested.
Future Planning: Children's Announcements
Recruit a few children as volunteers to stand up during worship and announce the toy and book drive. Coordinate with parents to be sure the children will be in attendance and can arrive a few minutes early. Show the volunteers where the microphone is, if your congregation uses one. Give the children speaking pointers, such as facing the congregation when talking. One possibility would be to have each child volunteer name a favorite toy or book and encourage the congregation to contribute to the drive so that all children can enjoy playing and reading.
Future Planning: Field Trip
At the conclusion of the toy and book drive, you may like to arrange a time for the children to visit the agency or organization to deliver the donations. Obtain any needed permission forms from your director of religious education and recruit adult volunteers to help with transportation and supervision. Arrange for an adult worker or volunteer to receive the gifts at the agency or organization site, lead a brief tour (if appropriate), and thank the children.
Including All Participants
It is important to remember as you plan and lead this activity that some children in the group might be living below the poverty line. There may be members of your congregation who seek assistance from the charitable agency you have selected. Be careful to use language that includes this possibility and that does not assume all of the children come from financially wealthy homes or have an excess of toys and books. Avoid language that refers to the recipients as "different" from the children in Moral Tales or categorizes them as "other." Emphasize that all donations are welcome, big and small, because each item will make someone else happy.
Avoid situations where the donations can become competitive, for example, a public sharing that could highlight different levels of giving and embarrass some children. As long as you are sensitive to the varied economic situations that may be reflected in the group, every child should be able to participate in and learn from this activity. No matter what our circumstances, we are all capable of the spiritual discipline of generosity.