How it all started…
It all started in the toy aisle at a Target in 2012. I took my 2 daughters out to do some Christmas shopping. I explained to them on the drive over that this outing to Target was not about buying things for them, but that instead this would be a time to think about others. I did not realize how hard this concept would be for them to understand. It only took 2 minutes in the toy aisle for my girls to start asking, “Dad can I have this? Dad can I have that?”
It didn’t matter how many times I pulled them aside for a refocusing pep talk, they just couldn’t help themselves. The wanted all the toys for themselves.
So I decided to look for opportunities to help teach my kids the importance of generosity, selflessness, and giving.
One opportunity came at church when the girls’ Sunday school class took up a collection for a local charity. What my girls learned that day is that all they need to do is ask mom and dad for money to put in the basket. It was simple and easy. It also lacked one important part to giving, sacrifice.
Another opportunity was a food drive at their school. The girls loaded up their backpacks with cans of food and lugged them to school. At first I thought this was the perfect teachable moment, however what I noticed, is that they only grabbed items they didn’t like. For them the food drive became a self serving way to eliminate undesirable vegetables and tuna.
I needed to create my own teachable moment.
When my kids were old enough they learned to love LEGO just like their old man. With our shared love of LEGO it seemed every time we went to the store we would end up in the LEGO aisle picking out something new to build together. In December of 2012, once again we found ourselves shopping for LEGO kits.
I let my daughters both pick out a box, letting them believe that the LEGO would be theirs to keep. When we got home I explained to them that we would not be building the LEGOs but instead we would be gift wrapping them to give away. They weren’t too thrilled about it at first, but they finally got the point about sacrificial giving. Kids don’t understand the value of money, but they do understand the value of toys.
Those two LEGO boxes started it all. That first year we ended up giving away around just the 2 sets. Our second year we gave away close to 50 sets. All the LEGO we collected those first two years were paid for from auctioning off my artwork at certain events where I was a guest speaker. In 2015, we had the opportunity to partner with three new organizations, TechPoint Foundation for Youth, The Julian Center, and Dotted Line Divas. With our new partnerships the amount of LEGO needed tripled. This gave birth to the Chalkguy LEGO Christmas Drive. With the help of several churches, schools, private donors, and local business, last year we collected 984 sets valued at over $30,000.
This year, our goal is to raise over 1000 sets!
I have come to see brick play as not only a fun activity for the whole family, but also a great way to help kids much needed life skills like creativity, patience, resilience, social skills and team work. I’ve even written a couple of books about it!
Let’s face it, LEGOs are a lot of fun and they’re good for us too!