'It is better to give than to receive.' That can be a tough concept even for adults, but we want to instill that in our children. Since we believe so strongly in giving back to the community through our Full Tummies: Full Hearts charity, we thought that we should make it a family affair. We want to teach our children to be givers, so whenever possible, we take them with us to work the truck for FTFH events.
Our first event was through a local church (Marietta SDA Church) on Christmas Eve. It was not a very active site so we had lots of food left over. David had the idea to give it to a nearby fire station in order to treat the firemen who were working instead of being with their families. They were very happy to be thought of, and very kind to the girls. They gave them stuffies and let them on the fire truck. So, the girls did receive that night, but they were excited to work on the truck when we were able to arrange another giving opportunity.
The girls' next experience on the truck was a little more intense. They were very excited to help again, but I don't think that they understood what to expect given the last experience they had.
We made arrangements with Hope Thru Soap, a shower truck, to feed the homeless at one of the parks in Atlanta while they offered showers, haircuts, and clean clothes. CBS News was there to do a short story on Hope Thru Soap, so there was a small crew (you can see that story here: http://www.cbs46.com/clip/13218943/man-provides-hot-showers-to-homeless). TV cameras always add drama! Soon the word got out that we were offering free food and services to those in need. This quickly resulted in a long line of hungry, unkempt men. Anyone with children knows that this is exactly when your youngest child will have a bathroom emergency! Since David was less familiar with the truck at the time, and more familiar with the area, he took Ella to find a bathroom. This meant that, my 10 year-old, Charlize had to work the window for me while I prepared the food on the grill.
At first she seemed excited by the idea, but after she realized that she had to work the window alone she became overwhelmed. I don't know if it was the crowd, if someone was impatient with her, or if it was because she also had to offer sides, or all of the above, but she came to me with a quiver in her voice and said, "Mommy, I don't think I can do this..." There was no way I could cook and take orders alone without burning the food. I put my hands on her shoulders and looked her square in the eyes and said, "I can't do this alone. You are a big girl; I know you can do this!" From that moment on she owned that window! I only had to offer a little encouragement here and there, reminding her that if they were impatient it was only because they were so hungry.
David was delayed coming back since I had to send him on an errand to find more buns. By the time he came back Charlize needed little help. She stayed in the window, and even told one young man that she remembered serving him already! (David did help her communicate that we only had enough food for one meal per person.)
By the time we were done our truck was completely empty of food. Even when we ran out of BBQ we gave away buns! Our truck was empty, but our hearts were full. And we hope that the people we served that day had full tummies and full hearts as well! We were proud of our girls and the work they did that day, and they were proud of themselves. I think they learned that even getting hot and sweaty and tired by the time it was all over can make you feel good--that it is better to give than to receive! I know they learned that lesson because they keep asking when they can work on the truck again!