–by Mary Helen Darah
PUBLICATION DATE: Feb 15, 2021
“Shortly after the holidays we were trying to find a service project that could involve our children,” recalled Jen Beaudoin. “We wanted to give our children an idea of how important it is to provide for others in need when you are able to do so.” Beaudoin enticed her like-minded friend, Keri-Ann Cedoz, to think of a service project after the two had a conversation about their joint desire to teach their children the importance of giving.
The duo reached out to Sylvania Area Family Services (SAFS) which met their criteria to serve the local Sylvania community. “We reached out to SAFS and spoke with Chrystal Bland, their social service coordinator, for ideas. Chrystal gave us numerous options and budget points for various projects,” stated Beaudoin. “We came up with the idea of purchasing hygiene products. We thought it was a great option because the products would not expire and are so needed since items are not included in government assistance programs. We also loved the idea of hygiene products because our kids use them daily without appreciating their worth to those who do not have what they do. This was an easily relatable endeavour. Keri and I went twice weekly to purchase items. We wished we knew that there was online ordering, which would have made our life easier. We were in the process of moving so Keri became the organizer and head storage keeper for us.”
During the entire experience the parents of both the Beaudoin and Cedoz families kept their kids updated with the specifics of their service project. “Then the big day came when we took our children, and the addition of a school friend, on-sight to make 125 baskets filled with hygiene items to distribute to the clients of SAFS,” said Beaudoin. “They carried in all the items, sorted them and constructed the baskets. It was an amazing visual to see all the baskets laid out on the floor that would help families in need.”
According to the families, their kids are still talking about the experience. “It is difficult for children to understand and appreciate things they have always had in the home,” stated Beaudoin. “They said it felt good to help others. The take-away message was the importance of physically giving our time and efforts. We loved that they got a little sweaty through physical labor in addition to understanding it’s important to give financially as well. I know many people with the best intentions of giving back that say they sometimes feel there is a disconnect. I have been able to share how we reached out, committed to a plan and in the end, experienced the beautiful feeling of accomplishment that we made a difference.”
Beaudoin added, “I was hopeful to use this experience to demonstrate the need in our community. We did it on a larger scale but any little bit helps. Actually, it is very simple to give back. During the holidays, we usually donate gifts. It was a great way for the kids to see that it isn’t just about presents. People are living without the basic necessities. One of my kids asked why Santa didn’t bring everything everyone needs. It can be confusing. Thankfully, they were left with the knowledge that a magical man does not have the ability to make everyone’s wishes come true, but there are plenty of helping hands to serve others.”