28 Jan
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Community Valentine’s Day

Our 5th grader brought home a note from his teachers  explaining a community Valentine’s Day project. I read it and wanted to drive back to school to tell them how much I appreciate their creativity and kindness. There are things broken in our public school system, and then there are people who make all the difference in the bureaucracy of education. There will be no cards handed out in 5th grade this year. No cupcakes, miniature candy bars and lollipops. This year my son and his classmates will be doing a community Valentine’s Day service project to help fellow students in our school district. Through the Wyoming Food for Thought Project, B’s class will be stuffing bags with food to be given to students at the end of the week, so there will be something to eat for students who otherwise may not have food available. The bags are stuffed with easy-to-fix meals and snacks each week and provided to more than 200 district students. According to the Wyoming Food for Thought Project, 3,000 kids in our county alone don’t know where their next meal will come from. The food they depend on is provided by our schools for breakfast and lunch on school days. This project helps to fill the gap for students when they aren’t in school. B’s class is also collecting non-perishable items to take with them on stuffing day and will be bringing Valentine cards to put in the bags for students. Community Valentine's Day Valentine’s Day is a day I dread for the increase in sugar our house will see and the nagging feeling the day is missing something. It seems like a day set aside to celebrate sugar in all its forms. Don’t get me wrong, we like to create in our house. We like coming up with new ideas for Valentine cards. My kids enjoy the break from daily school work to handout cards and ingest the goodies they don’t see in our house often. I enjoy coming up with new ways to make our four feel special. It’s fun for them, but this 5th grade project proves it could be so much more. My favorite definition offered by Merriam-Webster is “something…expressing uncritical praise or affection.” Food tends to hold power over people. It makes us feel taken care of. It’s not a huge leap to feeling loved by having our basic needs met, even if they’re met by strangers. The education of our children shouldn’t solely concern itself with reading, writing and arithmetic. Our country needs children who have the opportunity to have their entire person educated. It’s imperative our children see and help to meet needs outside of themselves. My son and I chatted about what this projects means. When I started spouting off numbers, he was shocked. He knows people who come from houses where food is scarce, but he had no idea there were children who might only eat at school and nowhere else. We talked about our abundant stock of food in our home and how sometimes it’s hard to narrow down what we should eat simply because there are choices. Our personal reality is not that of someone else. We associate Valentine’s Day with love, hearts, dates, kisses and hugs. This year my family will learn to love and embrace our community, to make people we don’t know feel loved. What would my community look and feel like if every person reached out to a stranger on Valentine’s Day? What if Valentine’s Day wasn’t about candy and cards but about action? What if we choose to show our love, not only to those who are aware we love them, but to those we don’t even know?

“There is no surprise more magical than the surprise of being loved.  It is God’s finger on man’s shoulder.” — Charles Morgan


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