My family needs a lot of practice when it comes to serving others. It is something we each love to do but it often times does not come naturally. So over the summer we look for intentional ways to have fun while helping others in our community. One of our favorite ways to do this is by gleaning fields for the homeless.
If you recall the Old Testament story of Ruth and Boaz you may be familiar with gleaning. The wealthy Boaz felt compassion for a widow named Ruth and allowed her to glean his fields after they had been harvested. This generosity still exists today.
There is a national organization called Society of St. Andrew (www.EndHunger.org) from which people of all faiths, civil organizations, and groups volunteer to help alleviate hunger through gleaning the fields of America. There are roughly 40 million Americans hungry and the USDA estimates that around 25% of American crops are never made available for people to eat. Much of that uneaten food is left in the fields after harvest.
Farms across America have been offering up these leftover crops for volunteer gleaners to come and pick. The crops are then given to the homeless and hungry. Our family has gleaned corn and citrus but today was all about blueberries!!!
We rolled out of bed and had an impromptu desire to go gleaning. You can sign up here for an email listing of local gleaning opportunities in your area. There was a 2 day blueberry project about 30 minutes away with our name on it.
We picked, ate, and compared buckets.
(and yes, Palmer currently wears this hat at ALL times…and Campbell is in Year 4 of wearing his shirts backwards. Love it.)
We sprinkled each bucket with love, then dumped them into the sorter.
We removed the green and mushy blueberries and then filled ziplock baggies.
At the farm today, our team of 20 gleaners picked 220 pounds of blueberries. Hurray!
This is a fabulous opportunity for children to help others in their community that is so much fun! The website again is www.EndHunger.org
As I watched my children fight over who got the biggest piece of brownie, I wondered what I had done wrong. You see, my children are innately selfish which is compounded by the fact that we live in a culture focused on immediate gratification. Does it ever feel like everything in our society aims at filling our desires quickly? From fast food to Facebook, we do not need to wait or to wonder.
My children do not even know true hunger because I make sure to always have snacks readily available. We don’t want them grouchy, right? What would happen though if I taught them to wait on food, to endure hunger pains? I imagine their impulses would die down and an improved self-control develop.
I know a family that allows only one of their children at each visit to get a happy meal at McDonald’s. The other kids get just a sandwich. Sounds unfair, right? The kids don’t mind though and are excited for whoever’s turn it is. They have had practice sacrificing their desires for the sake of another and now it’s natural. They seem to have lost that sense of entitlement that is so common among today’s child.
So lately I am in pursuit of ways to teach my children the beauty in sacrifice, so that they might be able to extend generosity beyond their little worlds of self fulfillment.
One way we are practicing this is through a Jar of Sacrifice. We bought an oddly-shaped sea glass jar from Old Time Pottery. This is the place where not just spare change goes. It is a jar that chore money and birthday money can go. Nobody counts or pressures, it is just our own family vessel to practice giving. There’s a saying “Give until it hurts and then keep giving until it doesn’t”. When my kids do chores now, they don’t think twice about throwing in some or all of that money. They are slowly learning to loosen their grip.
When the jar is filled, we will have a family gathering to discuss how we are going to bless others with its contents. They already have ideas brewing. I look forward to figuring out how to get the money out of that tiny hole, and I am certain there will be pride as we total those little sacrifices along the way.
My prayer is that their hearts will take such joy in seeing how these sacrifices have directly blessed others, that they will naturally be generous givers with all that has been entrusted to them, even if a brownie is involved.
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