Like many Americans, we wanted to participate in a community service project in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. this past weekend. We were looking for a volunteer event that we could also take our two children; one age 6 and the other age 3, to and participate as a family. We also thought it would be great bonuses if the event were outdoors and would help the environment, of course! We wanted to use this particular volunteer opportunity to help solidify what our children were learning about Dr. King’s work and legacy, and of course teach them the importance of community service. So we searched a few of the websites that offered opportunities in our area. However, some events had already met their volunteer quota, which is great to see that there were so many willing to help! Some of the events, as you would imagine were not age appropriate and some did not work with our schedule.
My oldest daughter and I were on an impromptu nature walk with some friends this past Saturday at the recently preserved Pleasure House Point propriety off of Shore Drive in Virginia Beach. While enjoying this beautiful piece of land and its gorgeous views of the various waterways, we had noticed a good bit of broken glass that had washed up along the water’s edge and some additional debris. As I was putting as much as I could of the sharper pieces of glass in my small cross strap bag so no one would step on it, I had wished I had been better prepared. The property is very well cared for, but there cannot be someone policing 24-7 what the tide and strong winter storms wash ashore. So as we made our way through the beautiful trails I realized we had found our unofficial tailor-made Martin Luther King Service Day Project. Trust me, I wasn't thrilled to find debris, but happy that I found something that we could tackle together as a family.
So we headed out the next day to Pleasure House Point and this time with a much larger bag in tow. As we made our way through the nature trails we had our children spot the “unwanted treasures” and my husband and I carefully placed them in our collection bag. While we were doing our part, we talked with our children about why we observe the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. We told them why the work he did was important and that he did not limit his inspiration to just one cause. What he did helped so many. His inspirational quotes have motivated many to see past stereotypes, to start helping others, to put down their learned prejudices and do something no matter how big or small that would benefit others.
Later that night I heard my two children talking about some things and treating each other with more kindness. I even heard the great Doctor’s name mentioned at one point, except coming from the mouth of a three-year old; it sounded more like Woctor Matin Loover King. Regardless, of how little of an impact we had on the environment at Pleasure House Point that day, we feel our little unofficial and unorganized volunteer event did a bit more. We planted seeds of kindness in two little ones’ minds that will hopefully last a lifetime.