My son Hank has always loved Legos. By the time he’d reached third grade, there wasn’t a flat surface in his room that wasn’t covered with the plastic building blocks.
I wasn't working outside of the home at the time and things were definitely paycheck-to-paycheck. So I would buy used Legos – or wait until the holidays or an excellent report card before presenting Hank with new ones. Still, something needed to be done about his ever growing stash.
A shelter's needs
One day I read an article about a local shelter for women and children in crisis.
"Hank," I said, “what if you took some of your old Legos and made some new creations out of them? You could build them, put them in a plastic bag, and then donate them to the shelter.”
"I don’t think anyone would want something I made instead of a real Lego."
"Are you kidding? I have the feeling that any kid staying there would love to have a Hank Original."
Still slightly skeptical, Hank set to work. Although he was a little slow at first, Hank quickly gained confidence as he built small sets out of his leftover Legos and then moved on to larger ones.
"Why do those kids live in a shelter?" he asked one night.
"Because they can’t live at their home anymore," I explained.
"Well, for all different reasons. Maybe they don’t have a home anymore because of a fire or a flood or maybe their parents are getting a divorce and they can’t stay in their home."
"I wouldn’t like that," Hank told me.
The day Hank and I drove to the shelter Hank helped me unload the large box containing 30 sets of Legos, each in its own plastic bag.
“Do you think you’ll miss all those Legos?” I asked.
Hank shook his head. "It’s more fun to build Legos than anything else. I don’t need to save them forever."
After his donation, I noticed a more selfless quality in Hank. He started giving money to the Salvation Army and joined the Humane Society. He seemed more aware that not everyone had their own toys, their own rooms, two parents, and three meals a day.
Hank is a teenager now, but he still remembers the lesson he learned of giving away what he no longer needed.