Submitted by Julia Anhalt
I’ve done a lot of service projects and volunteering but Sweet Dream In A Bag is my favorite. My mom is signed up with Volunteers Of America, which is how she first heard about Sweet Dream. My first time volunteering for them was at a Treasure Time.
Sweet Dream is a program that makes bedding for kids that don’t have a lot of their own, maybe for kids who can’t have their own because they can’t afford it. In each Sweet Dream bag is: a sheet set, a comforter, a fleece blanket, a stuffed animal, and a toothbrush and toothpaste.
At Pack And Prays, we pack these bags nicely for the kids. At Treasure Times, we help kids pick out which bag they want. I loved Sweet Dream In A Bag so much I decided that I wanted to do my Silver Award on it.
I met up with Susie Fox, who founded and runs Sweet Dream with her husband Wayne, at Wendy’s and we talked for about an hour about what I could do for my project to help her. She told me that she had a project coming up with I Am Academy, a school in Denver. She told me that I Am Academy had a Builders Club that did an activity with some of the kids there every Thursday at the end of the day. Mary, who ran the Builders Club at I Am Academy, was interested in Sweet Dream. Mary wanted the kids to help build bags for Sweet Dream.
Susie asked me if I wanted to help her with this project and obviously I jumped for joy and said yes. :) Susie gave me the outline of what needed to be done and then let me do it all. She gave me the supplies at the next Treasure Time and I started working. I had to cut all the ribbon that the blankets would be tied with, laminate cards with encouraging words on them, and I had to sow soft tags that read, “God loves me” onto the blankets. That was a lot of work! There were over 150 cards and blankets, it took forever to get all of that done! Still, there was the actual event at I am Academy.
In March, Susie, Wayne, my mom, and I took all the supplies I had gotten ready up to the school. I met Mary and then she let me take charge and I taught the kids how to build the bags. These bags were a little bit different than normal bags, they were smaller, and were specifically meant for Domestic Violence Centers.
During the hour time period I went around and helped kids build bags; those kids made over 180 Sweet Dream bags! It was a lot of hard work as well as fun. Some of the kids were my age (8th grade, now 9th :)) and were a little hard to work with. They were sometimes rude and would talk in Spanish, look at me, then burst out into laughter. They purposely tried to make me feel uncomfortable, and I had to have humility and let it go. I also tried very hard when they didn’t know how to build they bags correctly because they weren’t listening when I was explaining it to the group. Although the older kids were harder to work with, the younger kids were really sweet.
Susie told me afterwards that one little boy wanted to take a blanket home and she told him that they were meant for kids going through a really tough time. The little girl next to her, who hadn’t said a word the whole time we were there, said, “Well I think that might be me. We’re practically living on the streets.” It’s really hard not to break down in tears when you hear a little girl say something like that.
After the hour with the kids, Mary invited me to come and talk to the Kiwanis Club and just give a five minute speech about everything I learned. At that breakfast I got to meet a nice man who’s running for Governor, a former Ms. Colorado, and I got to miss school. :)
I’ve learned that I’m very privileged, and when I think I’m not being treated fairly or I want something that I can’t have, that I have a lot more than some of those kids do. And I should be focused on being grateful for what I do have instead of being ungrateful for what I don’t have. Lastly I’ve learned that I’ve been raised in a place where I can feel safe, and those kids haven’t. The older kids have that sassy attitude as a defense mechanism. You have to recognize that it’s even more important to treat their unkindness with kindness.
I’m proud to say that I’ve learned a lot, worked hard, and had fun. I’m glad that I’ve had the chance to meet Susie and Wayne Fox, as my life would not be the same without them or Sweet Dream In A Bag.
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