Rummaging through Pigtails' end-of-year school papers, I discovered her vocabulary journal. She describes the word "volunteer" as such:
"Work or help without giting paid. I would like to volunteer at St. Joes."
Below that, she draws the word in action. It shows a happy kid standing in front of an oven with locks that look like a droopy hairnet and stubby wing-like arms. The text bubble sprouting from her nose reads: "I am garlick bread girl".
We occasionally help out at St. Joe's shelter, cooking a meal of spaghetti, garlic bread and vegetables. I particularly like this shelter's bent, it's the only one in town that focuses on poor families. The other shelters divide into individuals: men only, women only or youth. Joe's allows the entire family unit to live there while the parents get back on their feet. The clients are only allowed to live there for a short period of time, must help with chores and are assisted with finding a job.
Tough love, teaching them to fish and a focus on personal accountability. I like it!
Stinking up the kitchen with garlic since Pigtails was 5, I realized it was a simple way for my daughter, from a young age, to better appreciate common things we take for granted. Like food and shelter. That first time she noticed small children her age living there, and I explained to her what was going on, she very quickly understood the struggles they were facing.
Pigtails is helpful and self sufficient as she smears two loaves of bread with butter and garlic. I fry up two pounds of beef and get the noodles and sauce rolling. It only takes 45 minutes, the benefit is right before our eyes and we get to briefly meet some of the families living there.
It's never too early to get the tikes chugging along helping. My goal is to stir in Pigtails' heart a desire to serve others. I'll know it sticks if she decides to pass the torch to her kids in 20 years.
I'm craving Italian now, time to roast garlic butter down a french loaf.