July 29, 2011

Mother and Daughter Pack for Pride

By Ann-Christel Graham, Community VP

On July 17, I participated in the first Done in a Day event of the year: Pack for Pride. This annual event held by My New Red Shoes aims to give homeless children in our area an opportunity to look and feel confident as they start the school year. Pack for Pride volunteers, including 15 League volunteers and their families, packed 3566 bags filled with a pair of shoes, a school supply and a personal note. This bag, along with a $50 gift card from Old Navy, will be handed out to children in more 50 shelters across the Peninsula and San Francisco.

Brenna Preston, DIAD Co-Chair, her daughter Reese Preston and Aubrey Graham (daughter of Ann-Christel Graham)

Haven House donations
Looking around as the warehouse began to fill up with these bags, you felt a sense of accomplishment, feeling like you made an impact by giving just a few hours of your time. At the same time, as co-chair Brenna Preston noted, it served as a reminder for how much need there is in our area and the stark reality that there are so many more children and families who need our help. As Community VP this year, I was very excited when Brenna and co-chair Kristin Najarian, shared that they had spoken with the Program Manager about other opportunities for the League to partner with My New Red Shoes through future Done in a Day events. I look forward to learning more about those opportunities and sharing them with you in future a future posting.

Alyse Benham and Aubrey Graham (daughter of Ann-Christel Graham)
On a more personal note, this event was special to me because it served as the first opportunity for me to introduce my daughter, Aubrey, to volunteerism and to offer her a few life lessons. For years, she's heard about mommy going to "Junior League meetings", and she was really excited about being able to come with me. I had explained what we were going to do, but I thought that a 5-year old wouldn't necessarily understand what I was explaining. Of course, she understood we were going to pack bags with shoes in them, but I wasn't sure she'd understand why.

Kristin Najarian and Brenna Preston, DIAD Co-Chairs

When we arrived and were gathered by the My New Red Shoes staff for an introduction to our challenge and instructions for the event, Aubrey and two of her friends made their way to the front of the group and listened. Once we were told we could start, off they went. The kids were focused. They picked the colors of the bags based on the sex of the recipient. They picked the school supply and personalized card that was age and sex appropriate. They handed over the identification tags to the volunteers who would bring us the right shoes, and they inspected the shoes for accuracy. They packed the bags carefully and helped place them in the right spot according to shelter. During the process, I was able to explain to Aubrey why we were doing this; why these shoes were so special to these children. I read to her the stories of some of the kids featured in the My New Red Shoes press cards. I watched other volunteers doing the same with their kids.

JLPA-MP Volunteers
In the two hours we spent at Pack for Pride, my daughter learned that there are many kids her age who are homeless and who don't have shoes or clothes that fit them. She learned that she is really lucky and that she needs to value that and maybe think about it before she asks for something in the future. She learned that it's important to help others in need, not out of pity but because that's the good thing to do. She learned empathy. There were a lot of life lessons learned that day. To top it off, she's anxious to do it again!

For more information on My New Red Shoes, please visit their website: http://www.mynewredshoes.org/

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