By Theresa Patton
It was one of those afternoons that made you feel like everything in the world at that moment was right. A blanket of warm afternoon sunshine rested on the backyard, reflecting the flecks of gold in the leaves as they tumbled steadily to the ground below. However, at the back of the yard stood my four year old son, shaking his fist at the heavens, pleading with the trees above him to stop dropping fresh leaves. After an afternoon of raking and despite all efforts, red and gold leaves continued to float gracefully down and land on the grass below.
He paused for a moment, contemplating the futility of work I suppose, but decided that perhaps the rewards for his labor would be worth it in the end.
I believe he realized that with a little more effort, more leaves resulted in a larger pile; which, of course, there is only one thing a child aspires to do with a pile of freshly raked leaves. ;)
Fall is a season of transition. It’s the gradual, steady change to the cooler weather, the holidays on the horizon, and a more nocturnal, cozy existence. It’s still all so magical to me, and I still anticipate the months ahead with excitement as I ready our family for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
I find that in this I must pause and transition in my heart and mind as well. A summer of fun and leisure is behind us; the memories of beach trips, long hot days at the park and BBQs with family and friends are slowly fading into treasured memories. Our days are shorter, more scheduled, more focused.
As a mom of four little ones, I navigate this season with intention as I strive to direct the focus to things that matter more than sandy feet and drippy ice cream cones.
Family dinners become more regular; conversations about the day circulate the table.
The rhythms of my day are more dictated by routine and vision, rather than fun and leisure.
And with the start of a new season, it’s time to haul out my boxes from below.
Yes, my husband has finally surrendered our home to my seasonal boxes.
He understands that when I decend into our storage area to retrieve a box, thus commences the holiday. Each labeled box contains decorations and activities to assist in celebrating and setting the intention for the holiday ahead.
During the month of November, I reveal our Thanksgiving Tree.
In order to reflect on the blessing of the past year, our family adds daily a single leaf to the tree. Upon the leaf is written something we are grateful for this past year. By the end of the month, the collective leaves have formed a full tree. It’s beautiful as we watch the daily words of gratitude add up and fill out the barren tree branches.
At the end of the month, when our giving tree can not hold another leaf, we then discuss how we want to “release” these blessings. Where, to whom, do we want to drop a leaf?!
It takes intentional conversations to take the focus off ourselves during this season. This is why reflecting on gratitude and generosity is a high priority.
With #givingtuesday on the horizon, my husband and I begin to discuss organizations and nonprofits we want to support finically. Granted, there are so many amazing non profits out there all doing good things; but for my husband and I, we really partner with the ones that align closest to our hearts and home.
Our life is focused and consumed with raising our four young children. We understand the sacrifice, work and importance of this job.
When we started to hear about the urgent need for foster families in Oregon, we felt something in us connect with this cause.
We were shocked that over 8,700 children a day need a loving, safe home. Although we feel passionate about this need, we ourselves don’t feel called to do this job at this time. However, we truly admire and want to support those individuals and families who open their hearts and homes for such an important job.
Therefore, With Love is the non profit that just makes sense to support.
They are local and involved deeply in our community, making it more loving and whole.
They align with our values.
They support the flourishing of families and children.
We want to be a part of it.
So we are.
This is where we want our gratitude to spill over.
This is the place we want drop our leaf.
Last year, With Love served 990 children. They made 330 deliveries to 470 children. They were able to purchase a van to streamline deliveries. They expanded their impact in the community and the vision is to reach even more in this upcoming year.
It’s now when With Love gathers the majority of their resources for the upcoming year. Although much of the material goods are donated, things like car seats, underwear and some clothing sizes must be purchased.
Financial support also covers logistical operations of the warehouse and pays the few salaried employees.
The hope is to reach $60,000; a $10,000 match is already in place. How can you and your family support families and children in your community?
1. Make a one time end of the year donation in honor of someone special.
Instead of hurriedly trying to find last minute gifts for everyone on your list, why not support With Love in honor of your loved one? This gift of support is much more meaningful and it won't get lost under the couch in a few days.
2. Contribute a family legacy donation
As a family, define who you want to be, determine your values and develop an action plan on how to live this out. If you find that you want to strengthen families and children, putting your resources into With Love is a way to put your heart into action.
3. Commit to a monthly pledge
Foster a heart of gratitude and love year round by making a commitment to contribute monthly to With Love. A steady guarantee of support allows With Love to more accurately plan for the future and ensures that all the needs and supplies are met.
During this seasonal transition in your home and within the rhythms of your family life, I encourage you to pause and count your blessings. Create a plan for giving back, in honor of all that has been given to you this past year as well as how you can continue to nourish a heart of gratitude and love for what you value.
With Love is totally dependent on you, the community.
Drop your leaf. Create an accumulation of resources that will truly enable families across Portland to flourish.
As I watch my own kids tumble, turn and dance in the leaves with such joy and ease, I long for a day when all children feel this loved, this hopeful, this carefree.
With Love would love to hear from you the ways you try to incorporate this season of giving and gratefulness with your family or within yourself. What is your plan of giving back?
Let’s learn from each other and make this #givingtuesday and season of giving the best one yet!