This is a Season in which we turn our attention to children. We are delighted and refreshed by their capacity to see the world as magical and good. They help us reignite our own belief in small and large miracles. At its best, the Holidays evoke our sense of wonder and the ability to see our neighbors both near and far with empathy and solidarity. In that light, I was struck by a story that was sent to me last week about a group of children and military service men and women – those individuals in our nation that embody our most profound values of service and sacrifice.
Points of Light has more than 1,800 registered generationOn Clubs made up of kids volunteering in extraordinary ways throughout the year. Over the last year, Club members across the country and the world have made “smile sacks” for kids in foster care, put together breakfast bags for the homeless, sang songs and played Irish tin whistles for residents of a nursing home and advocated for the adoption of shelter animals, among many, many other projects. The following is an excerpt from an email sent by the leader of Universal City Kids Club Care, a generationOn Club in Universal City, Texas, about the club’s holiday project.
“This month, our kids voted to support the Wounded Warrior Family Support Center. We held our meeting to prepare the kids for the injuries they might see during the event. We downloaded a disability etiquette manual from a spinal cord association and discussed injuries the kids may encounter. Each child was given an injury, asked to act it out and tell the rest of the group how they wanted to be treated.
Later that night, we welcomed home a Wounded Warrior from the hospital. We went dressed in red, white and blue and all of us were waving flags. We chose one child to give him a blanket that we all signed. A balloon popped while we were there and the Marine jumped and started to cry. One girl understood the effects of PTSD and asked him if she could give him a hug. We presented him with the blanket and he said he was so grateful for it. Later, as we were walking away, he came up to us and said, ‘Hey, I just want all of you to know I am going to sleep with this! It is like a great big hug.’
We took cards, cupcakes, letters, stamps and blankets to the Wounded Warrior Family Support Center the following week. There were about 250 people there. We delivered all of the cupcakes and they were calling us the ‘cupcake kids.’ We then gave each child a blanket and told them to find someone that had an injury that they had during our meeting and give it to them. The kids spread out and gave out their blankets. These men were so grateful for their blankets. We wished we had 100 more to give out. We told them we appreciated their service and dedication to our country and thanked them for their sacrifice.
Afterward, we talked to the kids about giving and how much better it felt to give than to receive. The kids told us what they learned. While staring in the face of the most catastrophic injuries I have ever seen on a human being, those kids saw a man. I have NEVER been more proud of any kids in my life than I am of these kids.”
This simple exchange between young people and our wounded warriors reminds us of the fundamental grounding and transforming power of empathy. It is the animating spirit of our great religious traditions and of this Season of Giving. This is the hope of the Season – our children bearing witness to the ultimate power and guiding light of compassion.
May you all be inspired and renewed by the spirit of the Season and may compassion and service to others guide us all in the coming year.
Yours in service,
CEO, Points of Light