By: Sue Anganes
I have taught the four through six-year-old children at our Wednesday night youth group at my church for the past few years. Usually I have the same kids each. Occasionally we have visitors, or the regular attendees bring a friend with them for the evening. We sing songs and play games, and we also have a lesson time which, for the younger age group, always includes a picture page to color.
This past Wednesday a woman from our church brought four children to church with her on Wednesday night. They were not her kids, and I am not sure if they were her neighbors or possibly foster children, but there were two sets of siblings. I had the youngest little visitor in my class. After we had read the story I handed out the picture pages to color. The kids worked on them for a while until it was time to play games. The little girl had not finished coloring her picture so I told her she could finish it at home.
“I don’t have any crayons,” she told me. I was somewhat taken aback, only in the respect that I don’t think there was any time in my years as a mom where crayons were not a staple of childhood entertainment. I looked at the old box of broken crayons that were on the table in front of me.
“You can take some of these crayons home with you if you’d like,” I told her. “I’ll find a bag to give you some.”
I searched through the shelves of the supply cabinet hoping to find a box of new crayons in there somewhere, but there were none to be found, so I brought back the ziplock bag to the table. I helped her pick out the best of the broken crayons being sure to include “one of every color of the rainbow.” I added a sheet of sparkly stickers, folded up her coloring page, and zipped the baggie closed.
“Do I have to bring these back?” Those serious big brown eyes looked straight into mine. The matter was very important to her.
“Oh, no, these are for you to keep,” I replied with a smile even though I could feel my eyes welling up with tears. She looked at me as if I had given her a bag of gold.
I don’t know if I’ll ever see that little one in my class again, but she was a big reality check for me. There are so many needs to be met in the lives of so many children. It is often overwhelming to me knowing what my kids have and what other kids go without. Hopefully, for the children whose lives I am blessed to touch, I can meet their need in some small way, even if it is just in the way of a bag of broken crayons. I am going to try harder to keep my eyes open and to try to make a small difference for other little ones in any way that I can.