At the local primary school my children attended, we were quick to rally around and support families in need. We became experts at baking cakes, lasagnes and casseroles. And prided ourselves on our collective ability to support a family by providing their evening meal for a full term if needed.
Our school community was so good at this task that we purchased a couple of chest freezers. These were regularly dropped off to the homes of the families doing it tough and filled with our lovingly made meals.
The problem was that – although driven by goodwill and a need to ‘do something’ – this solution rarely addressed the most pressing problem a family was facing and sometimes served to create additional stress.
For example, while appreciative of the actions of their school community, most families became very sick of these meals, very quickly. Children refused to eat the 4th lasagne for the week. Parents yelled at children for being ungrateful and felt guilty about the uneaten meals. Conflict arose in the playground when a parent who provided a meal approached the family in need to request their glassware be returned…
So the question arises – how can we better harness this love and goodwill and turn it into something the family really needs?
While there is a much longer answer to this question (and it includes using the Gather My Crew help roster to identify the tasks the family wants help with), a quick tip to remember next time someone you know needs help is this…
Rather than dropping off another meal – think about what would help the family get through a couple of days and start with a simple ‘care box’.
Below are some ideas to get you started on your ‘care box’ but, as always, use your knowledge of the family and what you might like in a similar situation to guide you on this.
1. Toilet paper, toothpaste, milk, bread, dishwashing liquid, soap, breakfast cereal and fruit are consumed on a daily basis by a busy family and often run out when things are really hectic at home.
2. Lunchbox items (sandwich meats, bread/rolls, school snacks, baked goods, cut up fruit) remove the daily stress of feeding school kids or carers looking after someone at home.
3. Ingredients for simple and easy meals (such pasta and sauce, tacos or wraps, homemade pizza, or salad) are also high on the list of helpful things to pop in a ‘care box’.
If we all think differently about how we support people doing it tough – we can have a huge impact. ❤️