Seedlings Planting Joy. Growing Hope. All while having a bit of fun.

Volunteers Affect Change

Growing the Tradition of Volunteering

Volunteers: A Family Affair

At 3 years old, Travis was introduced to Family Giving Tree for the first time. He saw a wish card on a tree at the Westfield Mall and wondered if there was a real child out there who would actually get that gift. The next year, his family would donate a gift to a child in need through FGT, and at 5 years old, he started volunteering in our warehouse. Now Travis is gearing up to graduate from San Jose State, and his commitment to FGT’s mission is still strong. His mother Denise thinks that involving young kids in volunteering helps ingrain in them the importance of giving back. “People literally have nothing,” she points out. In a world that highlights abundance and indulgence, it can be difficult to fully understand what we mean when we refer to those who “go without.” It’s an all-encompassing term: the same kids who go without gifts also go without food, without school supplies, without opportunities for advancement, without security. The only ways to comprehend the depth of that inequality are to either live it, or involve yourself in counteracting it.

Karly, a Bay Area mom, finds that volunteering values can be passed up generations as well. She believes that “if you get kids excited, parents will follow.” A child’s capacity for non-judgment can remind adults of one of the core values of volunteering: unconditional support. In our day-to-day lives, we fall into patterns of judgement and categorization. The phenomenon of dividing the disenfranchised into those deserving aid and those undeserving has been well documented in American history, and persists in our popular imagination. Volunteering provides context for difficult conversations that challenge that idea at a critical age. One of our volunteers, Liza, brought her 13 year-old, Anna, to help at our Holiday Warehouse. When choosing between which gift to give to the child, Anna got in the habit of asking herself, “if it were me, which gift would I want?” She embraced the opportunity for empathetic connection with someone she didn’t even know, and possibly would never meet. She was able to compare her experience and wishes to that of another child’s. She didn’t ask “What gift do I think this child deserves?” or “How likely is it that this kid has earned this gift?”

Volunteerism brings people together; it allows us to suspend judgment and thus give fully and freely of our time and other resources. It allows us the chance to go beyond imagining a better world towards realizing the possibility for it.

If you have any stories about volunteering with FGT that you’d like to share, reach out to Lynn at lynn@fgt.org.

Fantasia Tea

Jessica’s back, and so is boba! To celebrate, we stopped by Fantasia Tea.

Ordering Experience: 4/5 bubbles While we fully understand why Fantasia Tea is soooo popular, we weren’t exactly prepared for a line that spilled out the door and around the corner. Since we couldn’t call in our order ahead of time, we were expecting the 9 drinks we ordered to take a while. But the Fantasia Tea-m (that’s a pun) cranked out our drinks quickly and accurately!

Taste Factor: 5/5 bubbles On one of the first 80+ degree days we’ve seen in a while, the iced boba was very much anticipated. Some of the ice melted in the heat on the journey back to the office, but the tea itself was delicious. Jessica found her peach jasmine tea with grass jelly to be incredibly refreshing, while Liza, who ordered the same drink, found the pearls in hers to be “deliciously chewy.”

Presentation: 5/5 bubbles Lynn ordered a hot drink (the office was air conditioned), and was absolutely captivated by the little heart-shaped stopper that came with the coffee cup.

Overall: 5/5 Bubbles Delicious tea, a totally understandable (though somewhat sweaty) wait time, and a perfectly handled order!

Staff Feature: Who writes this stuff anyway?

Hi there! My name is Lynn, and I’m not a huge fan of writing in the third person. I’m the most recently added member of the FGT staff, having officially joined at the beginning of April as the Marketing Coordinator. If you spot any typos in these blogs, yes, that’s my fault, and yes, you can let me know at lynn@fgt.org. If you have any other feedback, such as topics you’d like to see covered, articles and stories you’d like to submit, or responses to previous articles, please email me those as well! My interests include game design, dance, sea otters, chocolate, and quilting, so if you’d like to see articles on any of those topics, definitely let me know. Have a great weekend!


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