On Friday, we got together and simulated some of the social fun we might have enjoyed if we were together physically with an online scavenger hunt contest. It was hardly a substitute for the real thing, but the effort felt worthwhile. Last week would have been the time when, after working hard and saving all year, we would have hit the road together. The year-end trip is designed as a culmination of our studies, a milestone in the young people’s growing independence, and a celebration of a whole year’s cohesion as a group.
For the last several weeks, as we have come through the initial adjustment to the new reality of our spring—together and yet not—our thoughts turned to other people. As disappointed as we are not to have been able to take our planned trip to Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia, Antietam Battlefield near Sharpsburg, Maryland, Gettysburg Battlefield, and the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, we knew that this is a momentary let-down. This pandemic has brought unemployment, illness, uncertainty and even death to so many in our broad community and around the world.
The moment we find ourselves in has changed. It is not what we imagined it would be as we served our school-mates by tallying orders, baking brownies, ordering pizza, and making deliveries. We realized, however, that it remained a moment in which we could be of service.
With a balance of just over $1,700.00 saved from our profits (when sales stopped abruptly in March), we began considering how our hard work might help other people. There have been conversations, votes, more conversation, more votes…and the growing realization that the people and causes needing help in this moment make up an enormously long list.
Today, we made our decision and our donations. $850 was given to the global medical and equipment-centered effort against this pandemic via the Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund, a partnership between WHO and UNICEF. (Our group led a separate fund-raising effort for UNICEF this fall.) More locally, we have donated $425.00 to Philabundance, supporting their critical role in providing food for the growing number of area families who are currently experiencing food insecurity. Similarly, we donated $425 to Face-to-Face Germantown. Perhaps no more than 15 minutes after we sent a note of explanation to Face-to-Face, the executive director, Mary Kay Meeks Hank, picked up the phone to call and thank us personally. It feels so good to be able to impact others in a positive way right now.
Each week, the children in our group are invited to complete an online (of course!) survey, checking in about their week. The questions change weekly, but one constant is a chance to reflect on a way in which each of us has made a positive difference to someone else and/or someone else has supported us. In dollar terms, we made a bigger difference this week collectively, but as every one of us knows—especially living in this moment—kindnesses of all sizes matter.