Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Picnic with A Purpose

A home for runaway girls in Virginia Beach. An abused women’s shelter in Atlanta. A soup kitchen in Detroit. A resort for terminally ill children in Orlando.

A boy’s home in Safety Harbor.

These are just some of the small charitable organizations around the country that are benefiting from Hebrew National’s “Picnics with a Purpose” this summer.

Actually, our Picnic with a Purpose actually had a dual one. To kick off the summer with a family BBQ with our friends, but also to benefit Attention Home--a local group home for disabled boys and young men. For almost 30 years, they have taken in some of the victims of Florida’s worst cases of child abuse, giving them not just shelter, but a home.

My family and I have worked with Attention Home for almost ten years now. Once we heard their stories and met the boys, turning away wasn’t an option. We have helped organize toy drives every year since, but their need truly knows no season. On Sunday, we gathered with our friends for family food, fun and games, but instead of asking our guests to bring the potato salad, we asked them to bring a new summer toy instead. Nothing expensive--a pack of sidewalk chalk or a new playground ball. We also got a park bench that we decorated, and invited some of the boys over to enjoy the day with us--playing games and making crafts.

It wasn’t a benefit gala or a silent auction raising millions, but supporting a charity doesn’t have to be on that scale in order to be hugely effective. On the contrary, small local community events like a simple outdoor picnic can be the most meaningful way to support a charity that is important to you and your family. We’ve compiled a kit of all of our party instructions, games and recipes to host your own “Picnic with a Purpose” on TheMotherhood.com, but you could certainly get creative with your own. Couple a Sunday BBQ with a summer toy drive or Memorial Day with a canned food drive. And the next Girl’s Night Out could be an opportunity to collect toiletries for your local homeless shelter.

The gestures don’t have to be large to make a huge impact, especially now.

We had a really wonderful day together enjoying the simplest of summer’s pleasures. 2009 will not be defined as what we give up, but rather what we give back.

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