From 5 to 105: Giving Back Has No Age Limit

By Tanika Davis

July 27, 2017

A paradox of parenting is that, if done well, little children’s worlds are safe and small.

A paradox of parenting is that, if done well, little children’s worlds are safe and small.

To protect their innocence, we adults shield them from the fact that the world is vast and can be harsh or, at the very least, unfair. To the well-cared-for little one, needs are met — and many wants, too. Old clothes are replaced with new ones. “Hunger” is the two hours in between meals and the next snack, not bare cupboards or distended bellies.

This is as it should be. But as our three children are growing up before our eyes, my husband and I have realized that it also can make for a dangerously narrow perspective.

That’s one reason why we look out for service opportunities that our little ones can participate in — and also understand, at the tender ages of 7 and 5.  One great example of that is the Casey Cares Foundation, which allowed my kids, their cousins and a few friends to come over during Christmas break and roll pajamas into packages for critically or terminally ill children.

Casey Cares is a Baltimore-based nonprofit which provides uplifting activities and programs to critically ill children and their families in six states and Washington, D.C. The nonprofit doesn’t claim to cure critical illnesses, but providing new, adorable pajamas for kids confined to the hospital, with little more than a flimsy hospital gown to wear, does improve the overall emotional health and well-being of the families they help (nearly 800 last year) and creates a more comfortable stay and lasting memories for the children who need it most.

Thankfully, my three have little in common with the kids who will receive the pajamas they packaged. Other than colds and allergies, they don’t know yet what it’s like to really be sick. But they understood that tangible act of “rolling” pajamas. They understood that kids their same age would benefit from the work they were doing on a Saturday morning. They got it that they were doing something for people other than themselves — people whose situations look different than theirs.

 We’ll go back to Casey Cares, and find other places to serve as well. I’m convinced that if we keep doing those kinds of activities, our children will grow up to be the kind of people who recognize their privilege and work to make the world a better place. And what more could you ask for from your precious little ones, for whom you do so much? What more than that does the world need?


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