Kids like to have parties. Birthday parties, slumber parties, movie parties…you name it. Recently our family has been having parties with a cause in mind.
It was an idea I found somewhere online that I worked into our schedule when we used an advent calendar to do good deeds every day leading up to Christmas (you can read about that here and here). I've tried to duplicate my search to give credit for the concept, but I went to so many sites looking for good deeds… So thank you random stranger for this idea!
After the Holidays, I realized I could re-fit this idea into a Valentine's Day house party for Oregon's Freedom to Marry campaign. Papa-Bug and I want to be doing what we can to support the campaign as well as helping our kids learn about equality and justice. And this was both perfect and a good excuse to make lots of cookies.
On to logistics.
Choose a cause to support. We chose Meals On Wheels during the Holidays; the kids and I made a list of local places that needed support and they chose the one that felt like it would make the most people feel Chritmasy.
Plan your party and invite friends. Ask the kids coming to bring at least $5 to donate to the cause you have selected.
Choose a movie that fits the theme of your party. Raising money for the humane shelter? Because of Winn-Dixie or Lady and the Tramp. The Family Homeless Shelter or an Adoption/Foster Organization? Little Orphan Annie or Curly Sue. You might have to be creative with your selection, depending on the ages of your guests and the cause you choose.
For our Freedom to Marry Party we chose Muppets From Space because there are no all-age appropriate movies that feature queer families, and that movie is about finding your true self and family. If we had been showing a movie to older kids only, Mrs. Doubtfire or ParaNorman might have worked.
For the $5 there is a movie, and popcorn/cookies/punch/pizza/whatever. You can invite adults to stay or have it be kids only.
After everyone arrives, but before you start the movie, gather the kids together and count up all their contributions. Talk with them about why we contribute, what the organization or cause will use this money for, and other things they can do to help. If you can really do it up, get a volunteer from your organization to come by and collect the donation and talk to the kids about how they have made a difference. Or have them all sign a card that can be sent in. If you mail a card, make sure to include a return address and the kids will likely get a thank you card back!
Keep your explanation simple and silly and use lots of accessible examples. Don't give the kids a lecture about the cause. Encourage them to ask questions. We got lots of laughs when we imagined Toddler-Bug and his Toddler-Friend as grown-ups who wanted to get married. It was a giggle fest and the kids understood that these two baby boys should have the same rights as a baby boy and baby girl.
Let them go watch the movie. Adults can hang out, chat, and enjoy a social hour.
It's lots of fun – all the good feelings of a party plus you know you are putting good into the world with dollars and educating children to do good in the world as they grow. So while the movie plays, you can kick back and lift your drink to yourself.
And enjoy some cookies.
I understand that Freedome to Marry may not be a cause you can support and I respect your opinion. Please keep your comments respectful and peacemaking. Comments I judge to be mean-spirited will be deleted.