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Kids Teaching Kindness

Kids Teaching Kindness

With four little boys in my home, on a typical night, bedtime can be quite a process. I tend to ask everyone the same questions before I even head up the stairs, knowing that they won't all be ready for bed for at least 15 more minutes. "Did you brush your teeth yet? Are your clothes picked out for the morning? Did you use the restroom yet? Are you in bed?!" When I hear it quiet down, I know it's time to start saying our goodnights. 


 A little over a week ago, I went upstairs to tuck in my youngest son, Ryley into bed. With a concerned look on his face, Ryley lifted his head up from his pillow and asked me about the hurricane animals for the 100th time that day. We talked about Hurricane Harvey earlier that morning because it was on the news. We talked about the hurricane in the car on the way to school and after I picked them up from school. He worried about the animals who didn't get rescued from the flooding, bringing up the topic before and after baseball practice. And at dinner, he couldn't stop talking about all the animals he saw being saved by boats. At poundWISHES, we had just launched the Hurricane Harvey Fund, so, of course, I mentioned it to Ryley. That opened a whole pandora's box of questions because he then asked me to tell him all about the campaign, who was donating, and how those animals would be able to "spend that money." 


Like many (probably all) moms, I want my kids to grow up with strong minds and big hearts. And so, I used this opportunity to talk with Ryley about the idea of giving, its importance, how it works, and that life isn't always fair -- and hence, why it's often important to help those who are less fortunate or do not have a voice. And in my line of work at poundWISHES, those who do not have a voice are animals. After that, Ryley started to understand how poundWISHES really works and why I love my job so much. In the past, when my children have seen campaigns that I've helped put together for urgent needs animals, I could see the sadness in their eyes. But when I show them photos of the same animals, weeks later after the donations have been made and they have received care, it all starts to make sense. So now, at bedtime, I could see the wheels spinning in Ryley's head as he laid his head down to sleep. "God bless you, I love you," he whispered (a common greeting in our family), and then he added, "We can help the animals, too, Mommy. We can have a lemonade stand and give all the money to all the animals who have all of the boo-boo's and nowhere to go."

I thought about his request, and I knew I had to help make it happen because Ryley is such a sweet, loving child. He rarely thinks about himself first and is always the first one to offer help. Ryley was able to get his brothers to join in on his excitement for our lemonade stand the very next day, and our ideas just kept growing from there. We started planning right away-- we made cute signs, and even got our dog Benny to join in on the fun.

During our prep time together, we talked a lot about how lemonade stands work and how it would ALL be donated toward the animals. We started to talk about how we could try to get others involved and who we could ask to support us. The boys started talking about their friends, our family, the school and our city. 

During our prep time together, we talked a lot about how lemonade stands work and how it would ALL be donated toward the animals. We started to talk about how we could try to get others involved and who we could ask to support us. The boys started talking about their friends, our family, the school and our city. 

Another son of mine, Joseph, mentioned his best friend's family who just moved to Texas, which spurred another conversation about different areas that have been affected by the hurricane, and how natural disasters can affect people and pets -- even if their homes aren't flooded or harmed in any way. We discussed how the hurricane is also affecting people who don't even live close to Texas, because everyone feels worried, scared or sad. We discussed how unity, coupled with kindness, is important, that kindness brings out the best in us and makes us human. 

In the beginning, Ryley knew that he wanted to help,wanting to give up all of his own saved money to help the animals, but I don't fully believe that he knew how good it would actually feel. The other boys started to feed off of his excitement as our planning branched out. 
Ryley reached out to our friends in Texas and they happily agreed to give the lemonade stand a try. The Watson family had moved to Texas one month before the hurricane warnings began. Fortunately, they were blessed with complete safety. Feeling thankful, the Watson Family called on friends and neighbors to help with their lemonade stand, as well as numerous other ways that they could give back to people in need. It amazed us all to see Texas residents jump in to help other Texans and we could hardly wait for our lemonade stand date as well. 
As the week went on, we reached out to friends, our local police station, our community Facebook page, to our school, and even the local news in hopes of gaining support. The boys really wanted their first lemonade stand to be as successful as possible so they could make a large donation toward helping as many as animals as possible. 
On Friday morning, the boys were super excited and eager to have their friends and community leaders stop by. My boys were beyond ecstatic when five police cars pulled up - sirens, lights and all - to support our little lemonade stand. 
The Cypress police officers stayed for almost an hour and enjoyed lemonade, cookies, and conversation with the kids, asking them about the hurricane, what motivated them to help, and where the money would go. My youngest two piped in talking about the flooded water, and how some dogs were left there without anywhere to go and how they needed to be saved. They told the officers about poundWISHES, and how the money will go to rescues who are saving animals by transporting, feeding, and providing care for them. I was pleasantly surprised when my children also told them about flight rescues like Cloud Nine Rescue Flights and Wings of Rescue, who need money so they can fly animals from Houston, to other states, so those dogs can be adopted. The officers were really impressed and told the children how proud they were of them for doing such a good thing. I have to admit, my children are pretty special. Their huge hearts never do cease to amaze me, and it shows in everything that they do. 
When the officers left, our friends from the community started to show up. The boys were excited to see their friends, of course, but the best part was how the children would explain what we were doing to the other children. It was a beautiful thing, because children were reaching into their pockets to donate the $1 or $2 they had brought with them to the park. The kids that did not have money would run off to go get their parents and parents were coming through with donations. 

At this point, random children were telling their parents about poundWISHES, and the Hurricane Harvey animals. Parents were pitching in to support the kids' wishes (their own and mine). Our hearts were very happy. We had friends show up that didn't even know we would be there, they hadn't brought money - the just wanted to play at the park. Being a Mom who believes in kindness, we offered to share our lemonade and cookies anyway, because it was so hot outside. You would be surprised at how many children said, “No thank you. I feel bad because I'd rather help.” I knew at this point that my husband and I made the right decision as far as choosing a community. Everyone who stopped by greeted us with open hearts, just bursting to help. 
Our afternoon was full of kindness, and the amount of children who just wanted to help, was overwhelming. As much as I pride myself on teaching kindness to my children, I have learned so much more from them -- their capacity to be generous and giving reminds me to do more everyday.
My boys had a blast launching this stand. We're doing it again this weekend. If you and your kids would like to participate in the lemonade stand project to help the animals who have been affected by the hurricane, you can. Simply launch your stand in your community and donate the proceeds to the Hurricane Harvey Animal Fund. The poundWISHES' Foundation is 100% tax deductible, and all donations toward our Hurricane Relief Fund will go straight to help the rescues who are helping the animals in need. If you want tips, let us know at info@poundwishes.com. Otherwise, please post pics and video and hashtag #poundwishes #IBelieveinKindness. Remember that donations can come in all different sizes; no amount is ever too small. If your kids can't start their own lemonade stand, sharing about the poundWISHES Hurricane Relief Fund is also a great way to give back. Together, we can make a difference for animals. And together, we can learn kindness from each other.



 



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