Live United: Engaging Children in Community Care – Albert Lea Tribune


Live United By Erin Haag

My son is 6 years old. My daughter is nine years old and I’m still adjusting to the idea that her next birthday will be in double digits. They make me laugh, frustrate me and above all, they humiliate me every day.

Erin Haag

We recently put them on an allowance. They have a “Save, Spend and Share” jar and they are excited to see their jars of money every week. It’s interesting to see their different personalities come out. My daughter is determined to save for her goal – and she did. We are now the proud owners of a 10ft inflatable unicorn that is a sprinkler. My son, he will give out a dollar or two at a time, for the smallest trinkets that are quickly forgotten. It brings him great joy at the moment.

This sharing pot though – it’s been a hot topic. My daughter wanted to buy a lot of tents to help the homeless have a place of their own. How do you explain the complexity of the problem of homelessness without diminishing its joy in doing good? We talked about different non-profit organizations. I made the rule that their donation couldn’t be at Mom’s job, at least for those early donations – because it was too easy. I encouraged them to look outside the world they are used to.

My friend Stephanie Kibler, executive director of the Freeborn County Historical Museum, shared information about the Norsk Evangelisk Luthersk Kirke they are trying to fundraise for.

In Stephanie’s writing, “The Norsk Evangelisk Luthersk Kirke (Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church), built in 1878, was once located to the south-east of Albert Lea. Also known as the North Round Prairie Lutheran Church. The church was donated to FCHM in 1968 and the interior appears today as it was in the 1870s, fully furnished and ready to use. Currently, the church is in need of foundation repairs and exterior painting. The quotes received total $ 26,000.

Good. My daughter loves the historical museum. It’s her favorite school trip, she enjoyed the fall in the village two years ago and is still talking about going back. I showed her pictures of the church and she shouted, “Mom! That’s it! Can we go there? I need to bring them my own jar! “

Good ok then! Of all the causes we’ve talked about in recent months, this is the one that appealed to him, the one that gave him a sense of urgency. So we left with two of their friends. It also met my criteria to be something different from what they see mom working on at work.

My son joined in saying he wanted to donate $ 17. I asked him why $ 17, wondering what the logic was for that specific number. His answer ? “Mom! It’s a parcel silver!”

Stephanie gladly accepted their hard-earned and well-saved money. She showed them the specific areas that needed repair and wrote a receipt for each donation, even the quarter, squeezed into a sweaty little hand.

Many people think of giving as a family at their church or school – volunteering with the PTA or at a sporting event. What if we get out of this box? For me, the key to raising kids who will give – through time, talent, or financial support – is exposing them to different areas. Make them feel comfortable reaching out and asking, “How can I help? How can I find out more? I have more work to do with my own children of course, but I want to challenge other families to take this trip with me. Raise service-minded children outside of your normal environment, as these adults will be more comfortable in various circumstances and will deepen their reflection on the world of giving.

Currently, United Way of Freeborn County is looking to create a list of volunteers who are ready to deliver boxes of food to seniors once a month. There are around 10-15 deliveries each month, all within city limits at the moment. The volunteer would pick up the box at the YMCA and go to the address provided. The senior will show their eligibility card through the window and the box is left on the porch. Volunteers don’t have to do it every month, and it’s not a fixed day or time. We aim for the third Tuesday or Wednesday of the month.

What a great opportunity to involve your children in the way of taking care of our community. Children can get in, help carry the box or hold the car door open, greet the elderly through the window.

For this and other opportunities, we invite you to call our office to register at 507-373-8670. Remember, United Way is about living together – engaging and supporting our community in a variety of ways, including talking about a 143 year old church that is an important part of our community’s history.

Erin Haag is the Executive Director of the United Way of Freeborn County.

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