This year has been a true blessing for my family. Not only have I been able to call this passion of mine a full time job, but it’s become a way to fully support my family so that both my husband and I can stay home with the kids. I work extremely hard, but it’s work that I truly enjoy doing and I can’t imagine ever giving this up. As you already know, I have been an ambassador for Step2 this past year and it has been one of the absolute best experiences. I have gotten to know the brand inside and out, I have traveled to their headquarters in Ohio to meet with their amazing team and see first hand the process of how their toys go from thoughts and drawings to full on production. Over the past 12 months the ambassadors have been tasked with sharing their love of the brand through product trials, reviews and more, and we have been super fortunate to be able to check out all the toys this great brand has to offer. I am so very blessed for all of it, and I know that not everyone gets to do these things so I value each and every second that I get to be part of it.
Since this is the final month of the 2014 program, the great people at Step2 decided to give each of us an opportunity to “Play it Forward” and donate an item of our choice to an individual or organization that we feel needs it. As soon as I read the words I knew immediately that I wanted to donate to Judah’s classroom. I have written about his Autism and school before, so you know that we are extremely fortunate that these programs for special needs kids exist and that we are able to be a part of them. I adore his teacher, and I love seeing how much she really cares about the students and her classroom. Seriously, before going to this school I did not have high hopes – I mean, how much awesome can a publicly funded Preschool program be? The answer humbled me because one look at a day in the life of Judah’s class was enough to throw my hands up in thanks for being able to participate in such a fabulous program. He is challenged, he has friends, he brings home beautiful art every day, he sings, he knows new things, he goes on field trips and his class put on the most adorable play I have ever seen for Thanksgiving. I am truly thankful for everything his school and the people involved in it do for these kids.
So, once I got the word that I could “play it forward” I immediately emailed Judah’s teacher. I will admit, I was nervous. Intimidated even. I mean, how do you tell someone “um, hey, can I give you a bunch of brand new stuff just because?” Nobody does that anymore. We are all busy in our lives, and for a lot of public school programs the items that fill the classroom are donations or paid for out of teachers pockets. They can’t just go buy a new set of play items when theirs gets worn out. I have been inside the classroom and knew there were several things that would be amazing to donate, and I had wanted it to be a surprise, but my main goal was to make sure the kids got what they could benefit from most. So I asked. She was very gracious, and very thankful and chose an adorable collection of kitchen goodies since the kitchen center is hands down the most popular area in her room. And since it is so popular, it is the most used. The amazing folks at Step2 ended up sending a huge multi item Shop And Bake Play Set that comes with all kinds of pots, pans, food, bowls, utensils, food, and more. I’d say that all the bases were covered, wouldn’t you?
Once it came I couldn’t wait to give bring it to the class, and since it was the week before Christmas break it made it extra special. I assembled the cart, put a special bow on it and did my darnedest to keep the kids from fighting over it because it was just that awesome. Cute, eh?
So anyway, the day came that we worked out to drop everything off which was the day before class got out for Christmas break and I woke up with the flu. I’m talking full on, can’t get out of bed flu. I was so sad because I really wanted to take it myself and see the kids’ excitement but I just couldn’t. So I sent my husband and made him promise to take some pictures for me with his phone.
In the end, the only thing that mattered was that the deed was done, the kids were happy and one classroom got a little brighter during the holidays. It felt really good to give back, and even though giving to Judah’s school was the first and only thing I thought of, I know it will benefit kids well beyond when Judah leaves the class. And I love that HE got to be involved in the giving as well. I think teaching kids to give, to help, to volunteer and everything in between is a vital life component that many don’t grow up knowing about. I loved this experience, and I hope everyone else did too.