Friday, when news of the shootings in Sandy Hook broke, I was sitting in a classroom full of children. I had spent the entire morning in various classrooms with various children doing interviews and prepping them for their digital photography entries into The District Science Fair the next morning. I am not a teacher and until I started working with these kids months ago? I had never seen them before in my life, yet I held back my tears and refused to let them see me upset. I refused to let my shock and grief upset their day and their routine because thankfully these kids, at least, didn’t know yet.
My sister teaches in a title one school (as Sprog now attends) but hers has always been one and these kids walk through metal detectors, they go through regular bag checks, they carry mesh or see-through backpacks only and are not allowed lockers. They get lunches for .10 and breakfasts for free. I’ve talked about this all before but in that moment, that moment of fear and grief and sadness, I was overcome with wanting to just DO something. Something good. And more specifically something good for a kid in need. One of these kids.
So while I sat there in that classroom, I got on Amazon on my phone and bought a brand new backpack for a student. He’s a student that is in the foster care system. He has a pink backpack right now and kids make fun of him for it. He tries to play it off, but it’s obvious that it bothers him. He was sitting alone at a desk away from all the other kids while I shopped for him, having no idea that I was doing it, and my heart was just broken for him. It’s even more-so now that I know that he’s in a group foster home situation, not an actual home and that his birth mother just got herself arrested for drugs again. Now that I know that he’s got an IEP and is medicated for certain disorders and the kids think he’s just dumb.
Today the backpack came in and I ran to Target and stocked it for him.
I bought him a new notebook, pens, highlighters, pencils, erasers and then some fun stuff like animal cookies, mamba fruit chews, slim jim, gobstoppers, a tootsie roll bank filled with candy, a slinky, fruit snacks, granola bars and a gatorade.
I know it’s just a small thing, one small gesture, but it’s the gift I’m most excited to give this season. And I don’t know that it’s the right response in light of the tragedy on Friday but in a moment of such unfathomable darkness, I think any light is a good thing.