What started out as a volunteer opportunity turned into a fun and rewarding way to spend time together as a family.
Have you ever thought about packing the whole family in the car for a road trip — while helping others along the way?
Andy and Sarah Ferguson did just that.
Andy wanted to put the family car to good use and find a way for Noah, age 8, and James, age 5, to help others. Citymeals on Wheels turned out to be a perfect fit for the whole family.
Not only did they discover a great organization where the boys could truly be helpful, but Andy and Sarah found several ways to teach their sons about compassion, patience, and kindness through bringing meals to elderly people who are homebound.
Image via Andy Ferguson, used with permission.
Noah and James help organize the meals as their parents reference the list of recipients on the delivery route. Then the whole family piles into the car and drives to the Bronx while the boys look for the street signs and building numbers that their parents read from the list. The boys take turns carrying the meals, pushing elevator buttons, or finding and ringing the right doorbells.
Some of the Citymeals on Wheels recipients have ailments, illnesses, or disabilities that make it difficult for them to leave their homes.
Many of them are delighted to see the children. Some have even said that receiving a meal from Noah and James is the best part of their weekend.
While Andy admits that knowing his sons can bring joy to someone who needs their help might be his favorite thing about volunteering, he knows that greater life lessons are being instilled in his children through volunteering for Citymeals.
Volunteering is a great way to get exposure to different perspectives.
While delivering meals, Noah and James get to see how people who are different from them live their lives.
The boys have had glimpses of many different homes and apartments, and they can see that some people are less fortunate. Some are less organized. Some keep immaculate homes. Some are very gracious and appreciative. Some are indifferent. Some need a lot of help. Some have a hard time making it to the door.
Andy and Sarah have had countless teachable moments while driving around the Bronx with their sons.
"They ask questions about the woman they just saw with an oxygen tank, and the man who answered the door in a wheelchair," says Andy. "It gives us an opportunity to show them that sometimes people need help, and we are able to be the ones who can help them."
While the boys have fun getting in and out of the car and peeking in the doors of different apartments, Andy hopes that when they're older, they'll remember the smiles on the faces of recipients and how easy it is to help someone else.
"I want them to learn to help whenever they can. If they see someone in need and they can offer a hand, that they'll be the types of people who'll just do it."
A family road trip can be an adventure, but for Andy, Sarah, Noah, and James, delivering for Citymeals makes for a road trip with a totally different kind of purpose and destination.
Instead of driving to a park, landmark, museum, or something for their own amusement on a Saturday afternoon, their car takes them to opportunities to experience more compassion, kindness, gratitude, and community. And that's well worth the trip.