Super heroes don’t necessarily need to wear masks, capes, and tights. Sometimes, small gestures and actions can make you someone’s hero, even though other people may never know about what you’ve done. Others WILL know you by the way you treat the people around you, though. That’s an important lesson we’ve tried to teach our kids and I was so excited to help my granddaughters learn a little something about it, while being Hunger Heroes, this weekend.
Damage and destruction have been common sights, in southeast Nebraska, the last several weeks. Tornadoes and flooding have left whole communities of Nebraskans without homes or even a town. Farms have been leveled and businesses destroyed. Rebuilding will take a LOT of time and money. At times like these, local food pantries can be overwhelmed with more need than they can fill, so I want to encourage you to give some thought to how you might be able to lessen that burden, fight hunger and help serve those in need in your own hometown, with even a small donation of necessities.
It has always been particularly important to me, to instill the values of compassion and generosity in my children. Even though we may not have a lot by the world’s standards, we ALWAYS have something we can share. The words of Matthew 25: 35-40 are powerful in their instruction and I wanted our kids to understand, even at an early age, the importance of their meaning. I believe, it’s “the point of us” — why we’re here. To love people the way Christ loves us, and by doing so, to help others see Him more clearly.
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you? The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
Recognizing the needs of others and having a sincere desire to help alleviate that need are signs of open and loving hearts in young children and skills that are developed over time, by practice, and by following the example of the adults who love them. It’s so important to model those behaviors and work together with our kids to help them develop those character qualities. I am truly blessed to be able to watch our oldest daughter and son-in-law work to develop giving hearts in our grandchildren and to get in on some of that “training”, myself.
The legacy of memories and skills that is passed from generation to generation, in the kitchen, is something about which I am extraordinarily passionate. Spending time with my kids and grandkids baking, cooking and preparing family recipes creates unforgettable moments of laughter, learning and family-connectedness. The memories you make when you cook and eat meals with your children will still be with them, as adults, and they will carry the tradition to their own children. How can I be so sure of this? Because many of the recipes and memories I share with my kids and grandkids, today, were learned in my grandma’s kitchen. When you take the fun times spent together, the homey smells and tastes of family meals that come when you’re creating great recipes, together, and tie all those in with a life lesson, that lesson will be part of a child’s memory forever. They will recall it again and again as they experience those same smells, tastes or feelings, as they reach into their recipe box and pull out that recipe or sit down to share that dish with the ones they love. Even as adults, those memories of you taking the time to teach and spend time with them will be powerful. That’s a legacy of love I am so excited to pass on.
And, how lucky am I that I have an opportunity, this week, to help others create their own wonderful memories and legacy, even in the midst of a difficult time after these awful storms? I was able to share with my granddaughters the importance of giving, and helping those in need, while we visited and enjoyed a special meal, together; and then I spent some time cooking and creating a gift, with them, for someone to receive through our local food pantry. It was truly a double blessing, thanks to the #HungerHeroes campaign I am working on with #CollectiveBias. Not only do the girls learn about cooking and make some fun memories in Grandma’s kitchen, but they also get an opportunity to practice compassion and generosity. A triple blessing, really, if you consider that our food purchases will also be able to trigger yet another donation. Beginning in August, Tyson and Kraft will donate 4oz. of protein, 6 oz. of CAPRI SUN, and/or 2.5 oz. of KRAFT Macaroni & Cheese Dinners, to help alleviate childhood hunger, for every item purchased each time a Tyson® Fully-Cooked Chicken Nuggets 5 lb. bag, along with a KRAFT Macaroni & Cheese Dinner (7.25 oz.) 12-pack, and/or a Capri-Sun (6 oz.) 40-pack are purchased at Sam’s Club during the month of August. How cool is that? The food for my own family, contributes a meal to someone else’s family whenever I make that purchase!
Armed with all this information about how we could be Hunger Heroes and help people who are struggling, right now, the girls and I devised a plan over a tasty meal of chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese and Capri Sun juice! Since we have made donations to our food pantry before and have had some time to visit with the director, I have a little insight that may help you when you make your own donations. One of the difficult things for those “getting groceries” for their family at food pantries, especially in small towns, is that there may not be items that really “go together”. It can be a challenge to find enough complimentary ingredients to create a meal. And often, there are ingredients that someone is not sure how to use. When I asked if it would help to have a specific recipe in a bag that is filled with all the ingredients to make it, I was told that would be an amazing and welcome treat for someone “shopping” at the food pantry. So, that is how we always deliver groceries, there, now. This week, we want to include recipes for several meals and also some recipes that are fun and easy for kids to make. We’re hoping that the food will be a blessing to a family in need, but also create some opportunities to spend time together having fun, cooking and eating together, and to give them a break from all the stress and worry created by the damaging weather.
The girls created four different recipes on their own, and Grandma snapped pictures, so they could make a cookbook to include in our bag. That way the kids who receive it will be able to recreate the dishes and enjoy the yummy snacks, as well as some fun, kid-safe time in the kitchen. My granddaughters made Taco Dip, Peanut Butter Apple Rings with Raisins, Pretzel Fruit Kabobs and Homemade Taco Chips. They did a fabulous job and the cookbook is a treasure! I had to make a copy for each of them to have, too! I hope to share a couple of the recipes with you, on the blog, but here are a few pictures to whet your appetites and to inspire you to create some family memories while teaching kids to be generous and compassionate. And if you really can’t wait, or are curious about how to put something like this together with your own kids, you can flip through the girls’ cook book at the bottom of this post. It’s simple for all of us to be Hunger Heroes and I’ll be sure to share links and more information, in August, so you can share meals with kids, by making purchases of Tyson Chicken Nuggets, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and Capri Sun Fruit Drinks, at Sam’s Club. In the meantime, grab your kids and grandkids and get creative with some ideas for your local food pantry. Even something small can make a HUGE impact for a family in need and in the hearts of young kids learning to be generous, compassionate givers.
We included the recipes and ingredients for multiple meals of several simple, economical and delicious casseroles, Tuna Casserole, Lentils and Rice, Chicken and Rice, in our donation bags, fresh produce and cheeses and some canned veggies for side dishes, along with the kid’s recipes and ingredients, too. We are so fortunate that our food pantry has a way to accept and store fresh produce, as well as refrigerated and frozen food items. Be sure to check ahead of time, and see if your local food pantry can accept them. Even if they don’t, there are some great alternatives like canned Tyson Chicken, instead of fresh or frozen, canned fruit and vegetables, shelf stable milk, etc. We also added some Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and Capri Sun Juice Boxes for extra meal and snacking opportunities. It doesn’t have to cost a lot to provide complete nutritious meals, but you do want to be 100% certain your specific food pantry is set up to receive all the ingredients you contribute. No one is served by food that will spoil.
I’ll bet there are Hunger Heroes in your family! Do you have some other great ideas to help with ridding the United States of childhood hunger? Large numbers of people taking small, manageable actions can have a huge impact over time. I want our children and grandchildren to understand the important “pieces” they are in the “puzzle” that makes a long-term difference for good. It’s not about doing something big and splashy or “making the news”. It’s about making a difference, sharing the love of Christ, helping and alleviating need wherever we can, even if it’s only one family at a time. My greatest hope is that sincere compassionate giving will become as second-nature to our children as breathing, and that generations of great, great-great, great-great-great, etc. grandchildren that will never know me, will have the legacy of generosity and compassion instilled in them, as well.
I hope you’re inspired to become a Hunger Hero! I’d love to hear the actions you and your own family will take!
How do you teach your children and grandchildren to desire to be compassionate and generous?
Do you believe, like we do, that modeling compassion and generosity is a critical part of teaching those characteristics? Teaching them to be Hunger Heroes is where we started. Could that work for your own family?
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