When I saw on one of their recent update letters that they were in need of some lunch fulfillment, I knew right away it'd be the perfect way to contribute to the school.
The Edison neighborhood in Kalamazoo is the poorest, most diverse neighborhood in the entire county. Principal, and founder, Adam Sterenberg had a calling. To move his family to the Edison neighborhood and start a Christ centered school. One that could provide education to all children regardless of their socio-economic situation. The average household income in the Edison neighborhood is $18,000/ year. Tree of Life only charges these families 5% of their household income, regardless of how many children they have attend. So, for a family making $18,000/ year that equal approximately $90/ month for a Christian education. (Information courtesy of tolschool.org)
The reason they even charge tuition is because they receive no government money. About 10% of their costs are covered by the tuition that comes from parents. 90% of their costs are paid by individuals, businesses, and churches that believe in the Vision of Tree Of Life.
|Article from the local Gazette from August 2010, hanging on the walls of their school.|
That is also true of their lunches - They are provided for students by volunteers and donations. Currently, they have twenty five students and two full-time teachers, but will be expanding even more next school year.
As I mentioned above, when I found out they were in need of lunch days to be fulfilled, it was my opportunity to "pay it forward". Little Miss and I have gone through an awful lot together; Heart ache, pain, loss, abuse, emotional roller coasters, poverty... and I am at a point in my life where I have been blessed. Blessed beyond my wildest dreams - Faith, family, the ability to love again and trust, a little girl who saved my life almost seven years ago... I feel I've been blessed to be a blessing. So I look for any way I can to share and give back whenever possible - to schools, organizations, friends, etc.
|You'll still love me with no make up and messy hair, right? ;)|
After letting Adam know I wanted to do lunches for one of the open days, I let my bento-blogging buddies know about my plans - hoping they could help me think of ideas for the masses. I was originally figuring lasagna or something along those lines that could be baked in big batches since it was on my shoulders to make it happen.
To my surprise (and gratefulness) JeeJee of AllThingsForSale & Kelly of EasyLunchBoxes immediately stepped up and wanted to help!! How cool is that!? And so "Bento Blessings" began. :)
|Thankfully, I have the best Sous Chef in the entire world to help!|
|Bless her heart and all her help! :)|
With a little preparation and planning, we began putting our bentos for the school together Monday evening and then finished up early (Tuesday) this morning before she left for school. She kept begging for me to let her miss school so she could deliver them with me later, lol.
|There's one lonely box missing carrots, don't worry I put them in there! lol|
Each of the kids EasyLunchBoxes had turkey and cream cheese pinwheels, veggie straws, carrots with dip, grapes and watermelon, with a chocolate chip mini chocolate zucchini muffin for dessert.
Thanks to the goodies that AllThingsForSale sent, they were also unique for both the boys and the girls. JeeJee supplied us with the dip containers, muffin holders, and all the picks.
|The boys pinwheels have funny face picks and star watermelon cut outs.|
|The girls pinwheels have musical note picks and flower shaped watermelon cut outs.|
The cheers and appreciation were priceless. When I told them they got to keep their lunchboxes and all the goodies inside, they all screamed and clapped! It was so great.
They kept showing each other what containers and fork animals they got - comparing and cheering in excitement over how fun they were to eat all their foods with!
I was so impressed with these kiddos and their manners! Eating their fruits and veggies first, then the pinwheels, saving the muffin for last. Emphatic thank you's kept being hollered my direction.
One little girl told me it was "the bestest lunch eva!" Melted my heart. Little did these kidlets know, I am the one that is thankful. They are a blessing to me - seeing them so happy and being able to do something special for them.
After some of them finished eating, the kids asked again "do we really get to keep these?" When I answered "yes", once again cheers and thank you's were shouted across the room! All the way while I was walking out the door, the kids told me thank you over and over again.
I urge each of you to find ways to "Think Outside Yourself" - how can you use your talents, or resources that are available to you, to give back to others?
I am looking forward to many more opportunities to share with these kids! I was happy to make their day, meanwhile they also made mine. Just looking at these pictures again makes me smile from ear-to-ear. I can still hear their giggles and their words. They touched my heart.