My boys are privileged. As I write this, it almost feels shameful that they are. But truth be told, they have an awful lot of stuff and want for nothing. Dave and I work really hard for that stuff. No silver spoons or trust funds. It’s earned. But my kids have absolutely zero concept of what being privileged means. As far as they’re concerned, everyone else in the world is like them.

So when the opportunity arose this week to engage in a little family philanthropy, Dave and I jumped. I had become aware of Cradles to Crayons a few months back. I have to say this is one of the coolest philanthropic organizations around. C2C collects everything a child needs to thrive from birth to age 12 and distributes it to thousands of needy kids each year through the city’s social services agencies. One C2C is in Boston; the other opened in Philly a year ago. The community donates gently used items (“in good enough condition for your own kid”) and care packages, custom made for each needy child, go out on a daily basis. With every package of clothing and toys, C2C also provides a week’s worth of books. If that is not good enough, C2C welcomes families into their warehouse all year long to work as volunteers. They call it the Giving Factory and you can even have your birthday party there! We were invited to a company event last night.

Anticipating this opportunity, we told the boys over dinner last week that we would be going – and each of them would fill a backpack with toys they do not use any more to give to a child who doesn’t have any toys. They thought we were kidding. Because “every kid has toys – c’mon”. A low parenting moment to say the least. Once we convinced them that there are children who are actually homeless, they proceeded to spend the rest of dinner clarifying each and every toy they weren’t going to give away. Chase was nearly apoplectic. We calmly explained that we would not give away anything that was still special to them.

Easier said than done. Everything is special to Chase. Trash is special to Chase.

Somehow, Dave conveniently disappeared when we were collecting our items. And pretty much everything I pulled out was vetoed.

Me: How about Candy Land? It’s for little kids.

Chase: No – the new version is different and we wouldn’t be able to ever see this version again.

Me: How about these matchbox cars? You have another 678 in this bin you can use.

Chase: Those are the BEST ones though.

Me: How about this drum? It has been sitting in the corner of the basement for a year and you haven’t even noticed.

Chase: I LOVE that drum. I’m so glad you found it.

Eventually I began to get frustrated – and Chase began to cry. This wasn’t how I wanted this project to go. It was as if I was giving pieces of him away. It didn’t matter that some very needy little boys would enjoy his stuff. It was still his stuff. He was sad and scared to let it go. And I obviously wasn’t getting that.

But alas, we managed to fill a backpack for each child – along with a hoard of other items from the basement (Excersaucer, stroller, play kitchen, two little bicycles, and (gulp) all their baby clothes).

Cut to the event: The kids had a great time. They were put in charge of sorting toys by age and they took to this task like bees to honey. We worked for about an hour and half without any complaints. It was totally fun.


The warehouse was stocked well with all sorts of items, similar to what we had brought. And I thought about the Rocket Power backpack that we gave and how much the boys loved Rocket Power. It was the first post-Blues Clues cartoon they watched. It sat there among all the other book bags waiting for a child to need it. That child would never know that it was the first one I bought Chase when he started kindergarten. And the Moms who got all of those warm snuggly onesies that I carefully dressed the boys in when they were babies will never know how much I loved those blue stripes. And suddenly, not unlike Chase, I felt sad.

And privileged.


Check out Cradles to Crayons at:

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