Who is Maria? Confusion of a four-year old

On my home page, I have the icons for the regional non-profit conservation groups that I support. I volunteer for them, promote them and give them my time and effort.

But last week, Lenny and I went to see Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol at the North Carolina Stage Company. Beyond promoting their own fund-raising efforts, NC Stage was partnering with Children First of Buncombe County to fill a Bedtime in a Bag for children in need. You were given a bright blue shopping bag with a list of items to fill it with. Now that’s something that I could do that went beyond dropping some money in a collection box or writing a check.

Since I was going to host my two granddaughters, I got two bags. The list included toothpaste and toothbrush,  a towel, underwear and pajamas and a book. But what age should we aim these items to?

I figured that the easiest thing was to have the two girls pick out stuff for their gender and age. I tried to explain to Isa, my four-year old granddaughter, that we were going to get stuff for a little girl that didn’t have as much as she did. This girl didn’t have books, toys or even fluffy pajamas.

“But who?” she asked. “Can I see her?”

“Well, no. The little girl lives in Asheville but we’re not going to meet her.”

The questions continued until I gave this child a name. “Her name is Maria,” I said. That made all the difference. “We’ll buy her stuff that you might like because she’s your age.”

Yesterday, the day after Christmas, we went to Target to buy all the items except the books. Isa took her time picking out the toothbrush and toothpaste, the pajamas and even the underwear. “Maria will like this,” she shouted throughout the store. “Who is Hannah buying for?”

Hannah, the ten-year old, picked up on this quickly. “My girl’s name is Amber.”

Next stop, Malaprop’s bookstore, to buy books for Maria and Amber. We could have stayed there all day, as they went through appropriate books for a four-year old and ten-year old.

Even adults need to feel that their contributions make a personal difference. They want to be shown the land that was protected, the trail that they helped rehabilitate, the plants that were saved from extinction. Fundraisers know that and work hard to create events that show the effect of donors’ gifts.

Finally, we brought all our purchases to the lobby of NC Stage. We took out the items, removed the price tags, and put them in the blue bags. They had put a decorated Christmas tree and all the blue bags around it. The staff member working in the lobby took the picture above.

OK, so it wasn’t an outdoor hiking day, more like an Asheville day while helping Maria and Amber as a goal. Will Isa remember that she helped Maria? Probably not. Today is a new day.

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