As Catholic home-schoolers our education focused around the liturgical year. Holy Week is the pinnacle of the church year. Our thoughts turn to fasting and alms-giving, in solidarity with our Lord and in preparation for our Easter celebration.
Over our home-school career, we explored many avenues of sacrifice and service. One activity that was very meaningful to us was really quite simple, but relevant. We are fortunate to live near several mission type sites which provide immediate care and help to those in need. Our church also has a twin parish in Haiti. Many Staples outlets gather school supplies.
Our ‘craft’ was to do a service project for one of those missions. We purchase the supplies and make ‘care kits’ with items related to the area of need. We make school kits for children in our community who lack these materials. We make personal care kits for needy children overseas with little access to these items.
As we assemble the kits we discuss the country or community, its resources, its climate and terrain, its history, its needs and also some of the political restrictions which impinge upon the people, like military coups, war, etc.
If it is a population we are assisting, we discuss what the need is, why it exists and how we can help. I also use this as an opportunity to explain some basic concepts which I’ll identify with each type of kit.
To assemble the kits, you need to purchase some gallon size zippered plastic bags. Below is a list of items to include for each kit. You can buy items in bulk or at discount stores to reduce cost. You can make a big impact by doing this when you purchase your own kids’ things. They can see first hand how much we have.
They get a great math lesson also. If you make several kits, you can do some story problems with multiplication, division, money, tax, etc.. For example, ‘If one toothbrush costs $.79, how many do 6 cost?’
Children remove all packaging boxes, plastic, and any extra junk) before they put them in the bag. Remind them that shipping and handling cost money and it’s wasteful to spend money on packaging. to prevent breakage, items can be wrapped in other things. Here are some examples:
School Kit- (depending upon the location they are being sent, they may be packed in an inexpensive school bag or backpack.)
Paper, notepad or notebook
Tape or glue stick
Colored pencils ( markers dry out and crayons melt and break)
Discuss how a family might not be able to afford school supplies. What would you need and not need?
Personal Care Kit: Discuss climate of the country these will go to. Is it warm? Do they need sunscreen, lip balm? What kind of hair products will work well? If they have little water, how will that affect the products you send? What products are most necessary and useful? What items will break or spill? What items might not get through customs? What items will expire (medicine)?
Bar of soap
Washcloth (items can be wrapped in this for travel)
Brush and/ or comb
You can send other items like a bandana, towel, etc.
As a group, family or class we take the kits to the delivery spot. Some facilities have tours and/ or work opportunities for the students to experience. Check below for links to organizations that we’ve worked with.