It seems like every time I turn around there is some kid standing in front of me trying to sell me cookies, tickets, discount cards, a Christmas tree, or an ad in a program for their school, church, or youth organization. I always say yes and buy or contribute to those causes. So do many of you as we understand that we have a role in the upbringing of the kids in our community.
No, not in the sense of that news person who last week stated that we all are the collective parents of the kids. Most will gladly pass on that responsibility and most would agree that we are happy letting those who had or adopted them be responsible to raise them. That being said, the African proverb, "It takes a village to raise a child" reminds us of our part in the equation, which is support.
I like the fact that parents have encouraged their children to get involved in sports, church, scouting, other youth activities, and school clubs and projects. Those all cost money and rather than teaching the kids to simply stick out their hands and ask for the cash from mom and dad, the children are being taught to do work such as the North Fork Scouts tree sale in December or to sell a product such as Girl Scout cookies. First, the kids have to ask friends and relatives to buy products and then comes the hard part -- standing out in front of Vons or Raley's and asking strangers to contribute.
It seems to me a great many simply walk by the kids, ignore the kids, or decline to support the kids. Okay, if that is how you feel, but then please refrain from condemning those of the younger generation on how they may behave. The kids who are involved in those great activities are less likely to be burdens to society. They probably aren't going to rob your house, steal your car, or vandalize the local area. They are too busy doing positive things.
I remember years ago in Fresno a little boy standing in front of a market trying to sell peanuts for the Fresno YMCA. This lady walked by and while he was very polite, she yelled at him, berated him and stormed into the store. I saw him walk away and found him crying on the side of the market. I bought a couple of boxes from him and praised him for his behavior and told him that he had just a met a really ugly person -- ugly on the inside. We parted and when we drove out of the parking lot, he had returned to selling his peanuts for the YMCA.
In the past month or so, we have bought cookies, given money to send a couple of local young ladies to a medical training program in New York, helped support a rodeo princess or two, contributed to a local church's youth camp program and bought tickets to a pancake breakfast for Cub Scouts in Mariposa. It has been fun every single time to look into the eyes of that child who is trying their best to raise the dollars for the program and they really mean it when they say 'Thank you.' They really do mean it.
So when you are given the golden opportunity to really help a child grow into a leader and a fine citizen, open up your purse or wallet and buy what it is that they are selling. In fact, I had gotten to the point of buying so many Girl Scout cookies I would ask the girl who sold them to me to eat the cookies for me so that I wouldn't gain the weight.
It's our chance. We contribute to scholarships and awards and we buy things we don't need or could certainly live without, we attend performances that must be crowded into our busy schedules but in the end we have supported a great program and a great kid who is learning to do it the right way-- earning it.
At the same time they are learning that they live in a community that believes in their generation and in them. When they are older they will be able to look back on their childhood in this part of the world and remember that we were there for them.
Imagine how tough it is for a kid to walk up to a stranger and ask, "Hey mister, do ya wanna buy a raffle ticket?"
When you say yes you will discover it will have given you a warm feeling, and your act will bring a smile to the face of that child.
That is the best investment you can make for just a couple of dollars.