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Igniting the giving ‘spark’

Families made turkey decorations during Kinderberry Hill Child Development Center’s “Spark the Spirit of Giving” event, which will then be donated to the seniors at Prelude Homes and Services in Woodbury. (Staff photo by Amber Kispert-Smith)

Kinderberry Hill Child Development Center of Woodbury proved that there is truth to the idea that even small people can make a big impact. 

The business joined five other Twin Cities Kinderberry Hill Centers on Nov. 12 in celebrating “Spark the Spirit of Giving.”

The event, organized by Cara Johnson-Bader at Kinderberry Hill’s corporate office, had all children and their parents participate in a number of charitable activities.

Activities included assembling breakfast bags for families at the Ronald McDonald House, creating colorful placemats for seniors receiving Meals on Wheels, creating a “Family Giving Box” to use at home and helping to complete fleece blankets for Project Linus.

At the Woodbury location, families also created turkey decorations to be donated to Woodbury’s Prelude Homes and Services.

The final count, among all six Kinderberry Hill locations, was 300 breakfast bags, 275 placemats and eight fleece blankets.

Johnson-Bader said she thought up the idea for “Spark the Spirit of Giving” as a way to encourage families to volunteer together.

“We wanted to help families help their children learn that there are a lot of ways to give back,” she said. “It’s nice for everyone to know that they can make a difference.”

Additionally, Jonson-Bader said, it helps children understand how lucky they are.

“There’s so much we should be thankful for,” she said.

Johnson-Bader said she picked out the projects and organizations by mirroring an annual event at the Children’s Museum of Minnesota called “Doing Good Together.”

“Giving back is such a great skill to begin teaching at a young age,” she said.

Kathy Sjursen, director of the Woodbury Kinderberry Hill, said she thought the event was a great addition to the school’s focus on giving back.

“Giving back is already a very big part of Kinderberry’s fiber,” she said. “It helps them think about other people.

“They’re learning about the feelings of other people and empathy.”

Sjursen said having the event during the holidays is even more beneficial because it helps children think beyond receiving.

“Obviously doing this now with the holiday season upon us is a wonderful time when there’s so much ‘what about me’ and the ‘gimmes,’” she said. “It’s making sure they understand that it’s just as much fun to give as it is to receive.”

Both Sjursen and Johnson-Bader said they are hopeful that “Spark the Spirit of Giving” becomes an annual event at Kinderberry Hill.

“I hope it’s something that keeps going and growing rather than just a one-time event,” Sjursen said.

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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