|Doing Good Together Newsletter|
Jenny Friedman, Executive Director
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Photo: The Giving Family: Raising Our Children to Help Others. by Susan Crites Price.
"Give, give, give - what is the point of having experience, knowledge or talent if I don't give it away? Of having stories if I don't tell them to others? Of having wealth if I don't share it? I don't intend to be cremated with any of it! It is in giving that I connect with others, with the world and with the divine."
Isabelle Allende, author
In July the Witherspoons embarked on a "mini- mission trip" right in their own backyard. This suburban Minneapolis family signed up for LOVE IN [DEED] Family Impact, a program sponsored by Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie, Minnesota with the assistance of Doing Good Together. It was essentially a "camp" in which six families, including children ranging from 7 to 15 years old, spent a week doing projects that demonstrated love for hungry and homeless members of their community.
To open the week's activities, Beth and Don Witherspoon, along with Clayton, 9, and Grace, 7, attended the LOVE IN[DEED] "solidarity meal" a simple spread of beans and rice for all participants. This represented the average fare available to the half of the world's population, which lives on $2 or less per day. Amid discussions of disparity, families were encouraged to eat every meal that week in solidarity with the less fortunate-even at home. In the meantime, a food drive was planned for later in the week.
Next, Jenny Friedman, executive director of Doing Good Together, educated adult participants on how to successfully plan, execute and evaluate family volunteering experiences. Meanwhile, the children split off to work on making no-sew blankets for Families Moving Forward, a local program that provides shelter and support for low-income families. (These were so much fun that Clayton, Grace and other junior campers took some home to finish.)
Each evening that week, families met to work on a different service project and to learn more about issues surrounding hunger and homelessness. In all, the Witherspoons helped make over 250 sandwiches for Simpson Housing Shelter, packaged food at Feed My Starving Children, and helped deliver the collected food donations to Community Emergency Services. On Friday, the final evening of camp, they all ate supper with homeless guests staying at an Edina, Minn., church. Clayton and Grace had such fun playing with their new friends that it was a highlight of the whole program.
The Friday gathering served as a living example of all the Witherspoons had learned that week about their faith, themselves, their family and their community. Although each grappled with the challenge of imagining life as a homeless or hungry person, Beth says, "we all learned meaningfully how families can tackle these problems together."
Photo: Beth and Don Witherspoon, along with their children Clayton, 9, and Grace, 7.
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