Thursday, December 22, 2011

Time To Give It Away!

I have written in the past about our family's giving box, the small wooden box, decorated by my kids, into which they place a dollar or 2 of their allowance every week. Today is the day we give it away!  Last year we gave to two organizations - care packages for soldiers and the SPCA, each chosen by one of my boys.

The process goes like this; we talk about things that they care about or have cared about in the past.  Honestly, my kids are good kids but they are also regular kids so sometimes when we sit down to do this they stare at me blankly.  In that case I might remind them of different charitable programs we have supported throughout the year, perhaps of some school field trip service day they took part in, they say "Oh, yeah" and when they smile at the idea - bingo! Connection made, it becomes about sharing from their own hearts. We go on the websites, read about specific ways to give, I make a credit card donation and they count out the dollar bills to give to me. 

Yesterday I heard some really, really good news. I want to share it with you and my boys. Perhaps we'll steer some Giving Box dollars here this year.

The Urban Peace Academy is a part of the Urban Peace Program at Advancement Project, a local public policy organization.   The goal of the Peace Academy is to reduce and ultimately end gang violence in Los Angeles.  This week the Academy graduated 30 former gang members. Former gang members who are now certified gang intervention workers. Students complete 140 hours of basic training, in crisis training, police procedures and post traumatic stress disorder. They then go back out into the community to work in gang intervention.  The Peace Academy also offers continuing education for gang intervention practitioners and training for LAPD members who work in gang hot spots. And it's working. The LAPD, once skeptical, are now embracing the program. 

 I encourage you to fill your spirits with good news this holiday season, good news of people and places making things better for all of us.  The Urban Peace Academy is one such place - check it out and, if you are so inclined, make a donation.

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