Whew, we’re exhausted! We finished up our cardboard collection for Project Share this Thursday and invited our neighbors to celebrate (read about how it all started). We’ve been talking about having a neighborhood block party for over three years now and this project finally gave us the excuse we needed to invite everyone over. All in all nine of our neighbors stopped by for hot dogs and home-brewed root beer floats. Our “Soup Night” friends joined in and several neighbors who didn’t come for dinner stopped by with last minute additions to our pile.
We ended up keeping the older kids up until 9:00 helping to bring cardboard up our creaky basement stairs and heaving it onto a growing pile in our back room. Sophia nearly wore herself out trying to out-pace me. Solomon ran back and forth from the upstairs to the basement in his heavy black garden boots, laughing and exclaiming with his hands over his face as though it was Christmas morning.
In the end we filled our back room at least half-way full of cardboard, a pretty good accomplishment if you ask me. Here’s a few pictures of our collection and a some thoughts about the difference this project made:
When I think about why we did this project this summer, with 4 kids six and under, I know it had a lot to do with a desire to get outside of ourselves and do something that might have a larger impact than we were capable of on our own. Ever since the twins were born, and before that for several months, we’d been doing all we could to simply “get by,” so this project was one way for us, for me, to reclaim a sense of connectedness to the world outside of and beyond our little family. I also wanted to give our kids something to participate in that wasn’t wholly centered around them and their enjoyment that would help them see that they can make a difference in the world in very simple and tangible ways. When I see the look of pride on my daughter’s face in the picture below I know, full room or not, that we accomplished what we set out to do.
Our neighborhood is situated between the beautiful and ever-expanding campus of Dickinson College and what locals refer to as “Carlum,” a low-income area that is unfortunately the center of Carlisle’s growing drug trade. There have been drug related shootings and stabbings within a block of our house and having your car broken into is a regular occurrence. Ours is one of the only houses on our block with young children and several of the people who came to our party were in their 80s.
As a stay-at-home Mom, I know what it feels like to sit in your little house peering out the windows with your doors locked when the sirens are blaring and the police cordon off part of your block. I know what it’s like to call the police because people are fighting in front of your house and to see drug dealers counting money in a mini-van as you walk by with your swarm of strollers and bikes. And I know that the way I feel in those times – helpless and vulnerable – is how my elderly neighbors feel as well. So I’m thankful that our little project brought some much-needed hope and light to our little corner of what can sometimes feel like a battered and weary world.
Our elderly neighbors made their way into our pot-holed backyard, canes in hand, to celebrate and I could see their eyes brighten with hope as they caught sight of all the kids in our yard. One neighbor suggested that we should’ve called the newspaper and when I asked why she replied, “We get so much bad news all the time, we need to hear about the good things that’re happening too.” In my mind, I looked at our little gathering and thought, “Good news, really? It’s so small.” But for her, it was enough.
The same neighbor left us an envelope with the following note and a twenty dollar bill:
“Dear Friends! That was such a nice project you took on to help “Project Share.” They need all the help they can get. I’d like you all to go to McDonalds and get and ice cream on me. Love ya.”
Here we are getting ready to say good-bye to our collection. I’m really proud of my kids and all the work they put into this and I’m grateful for my husband too who put up with lugging all of this into and out of the basement and stayed out too late on multiple occasions getting the word out to our neighbors.
So that’s it, friends. Thanks so much to everyone who helped, encouraged, donated and believed in our little project. It meant more than you could’ve possibly imagined. Now . . . what’s next??