In fact, they have A LOT more opportunity and frankly, STUFF than either Andy or I ever did as kids.
I was raised by immigrant grandparents who filled our home with love in broken English and traditional Portuguese soup, but had little for all the gadgets on TV. There wasn’t a Wal Mart in our town when I was growing up, but there was a Woolworth’s and a Pick N Save. I remember those fondly. If I was really lucky, my grandma would let me pick out a die cut wooden trinket for a few cents and I would take it home and painstakingly paint it. But not before ogling at the Barbies in ballgowns and the new gray boxes called Nintendo.
Andy was raised by a single mom who worked hard for her boys but money was always tight, as is the custom for single moms. Odd jobs at the church helped supplement holidays and even the youngest helped to “earn” a few dollars.
While neither of us ever went hungry, and our childhoods were still filled with toys I yearn for in nostalgia, there were no Disney annual passes, name brand shoes, skate lessons, or nights out to the movies.
And while we are able to give our children more than we were given, there is always a tension there. A desire to balance. Teach them the discipline of Wait. And always always always encourage compassion. Because the greatest of these is Love.
I want them to have beautiful hearts.
Before they choose professions and college majors. Before they say please and thank you. Before they sit quietly at the dinner table.
My main desire as a parent is to encourage their hearts to be ones that are soft and kind to others. Andy and I look for ways to foster that in them constantly. Maybe it will work. Maybe it won’t. But we are trying. In an imperfect, bumbling, messy way…we are trying.
So when Savings.com emailed me asking if I would write a sponsored post sharing that Toys R Us has a 15% off any regularly priced item, I had an idea. While I normally don’t share coupon type deals here, I do like to share love.
So I asked my contact if they would be willing to give me an advance on my sponsored post fee…in the form of a Toys R Us gift card. So that we could go Toys for Tots shopping.
I was THRILLED when they agreed, and less than 24 hours later, an e-card was in my inbox waiting to be spent on Love.
I took just the Bigs, and we stopped at Starbucks on our way.
Upon ordering their very first kid’s hot chocolate (did you know they have kids sizes? I had no idea.), we talked about our task. How we were going to buy toys for other kids. Kids who’s mommies and daddies might not have enough to buy them presents. How God calls us to share. We talked about sharing toys with friends, and sharing money too. How this trip to the toy store wasn’t about them. They would get nothing. Not even something out of the dollar bin. Okay?
(Incidentally I was hit by the irony of standing in a Starbucks…the poster child for American excess…ordering fancy drinks on our way to buy toys for others. GAH! Now I regretted the cocoa stop. Life is so complicated.)
We started in the girls section, where Lucy painstakingly picked out all things pink for “her kids”.
She was meticulous and often wanted me to lay out her selections on the floor of the aisles so that she could assess her choices and made adjustments as needed.
Thanks to a BUNCH of buy 1, get 1 50% off sales, the cart filled to the brim a vision in pink and purple and sparkles.
And she was so pleased.
So I sent Henry for a second cart. What became The Boy Cart.
Even more buy 1, get 1 50% sales helped us pack that second cart full. Only this one was filled with Bey Blades and Hot Wheels and these Dagedar things that were not only on clearance, but somehow buy 1, get TWO free. We cleared the shelves. It was awesome.
The kids took turns filling the donation bins item by item as the checker rang up each toy.
By the end of our purchase, we had the bins filled to the tip top, and a receipt a mile long.
We spent every penny of our gift card, and then a few extra, and bounded out of the store with hearts filled bigger than our carts ever were, nothing but a really long receipt to show for our trip.
The kids skipping through the parking lot, so excited at how much stuff we were able to buy. So thrilled with how many kids were sure to have at least one gift under their tree this year. So happy to know they helped.
“Mommy, I hope my kids are happy. Because Mommy, that’s so sad and not fair if they don’t get any presents.”
“I know Lu. It’s sad. But that’s why we have to always try. That’s why we have to do things that aren’t for us all the time.”
I truly haven’t had that much fun in a long time. So much so that I want you to have some of that same fun too. So I have an idea.
****WINNER HAS BEEN SELECTED. GIVEAWAY CLOSED.****
I’m going to give away a $100 Toys R Us gift card to one of YOU. Not for Christmas shopping…but for Toys for Tots shopping. This giveaway is not sponsored…it’s my own money that I’m using to buy the card.
Here are the “rules”:
1. Before entering, please be sure there is a Toys R Us near you, and that you have time to shop at in the very near future.
2. You must have a social media account of some kind. Whether its a personal Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram, whatever. Just some way to share at least one photo of your trip.
3. Take a pic and tag me (mostly because I’m excited to see than as “proof”.)
4. Shady people need not apply. Truthfully, this is basically on the honor system. But the way I see it, if you want to take my money, allocated for children in need, stage a photo, share it publicly, and really have loaded the bags into your car instead of the donation bins…well, at that point, you’ll have to take it up with the Big Guy. Because I just can’t even.
So leave me ONE comment telling me:
WHAT WAS THE NICEST THING SOMEONE HAS EVER DONE FOR YOU?
That’s it. One comment. I’ll choose someone at random on Wednesday, December 11.
And let’s not forget what started this all: 15% off any regularly priced item at Toys R Us.
Disclosure: post sponsored by Savings.com.