Monday, June 24, 2013

Twigging Out

After going through a divorce six years ago, I had to learn how to navigate life as a single mom to a one-year-old; and since child support was sparse, but debt wasn’t, I had to learn how to do this as a broke single mom. I think most people find divorce financially devastating, going from a dual income to a single one, tackling debt, maybe selling a house, and I was no exception. I was blessed with a lot of love and support from family and friends and after a few years had pretty much recovered. In the intervening years, I was promoted in my job and my daughter, Grace, started school (what a world of difference it makes not paying for full-time child care!). I never wanted Grace to know of my stress or to feel like she didn’t have enough.

I’ve shielded her from my worries and struggles, giving her a joyful and happy childhood, but now I’m trying to figure out how to teach her that not everyone has what we have, that even when we had little, others had even less. Children in the world are hungry, and not just the ones she sees on the glossy brochures at our church. I want my daughter to know that families in our own community don’t always have enough to eat, let alone the dolls and other toys that she has. But I also want her to hold onto her innocence and optimism and believe in magic.

In May, I learned about the TWIGS program. The TWIGS program began in the summer of 2011, in Granite City, and seeks to provide free summer lunches for children of all ages who are at risk of not having a lunch during the summer months. You can learn more here. This summer TWIGS came to Edwardsville. Coordinated out of Emmanuel United Methodist Church, multiple area churches have provided volunteers to hand out lunches. This seemed like a great opportunity to give back in my community, and I could include my daughter.

Another girl her age from our church, Sloan, also came with her mom and both of them were eager to help. The first day, Sloan saw a girl from her class, and they gave her and her siblings lunches. After, Sloan said to her mom, “But she’s in my class?” And she and Grace hadn’t understood what the face of hunger could look like, that there were children they knew, children without enough. Both girls have a better understanding now and they also learned they can help and impact their community. They sit under the trees with the adults, listening to us chat about all of the wonderful people and businesses that have donated food and money to the TWIGS program, and I realized that beyond teaching her about the socio-economic diversity of our community, she has seen the goodness of people who can help and that she, too, can make a difference.

Sarah Kirkpatrick

1 comment:

  1. Well said and beautifully written, Sarah. Thank you for sharing this!