As a Museum & Theatre educator, I am lucky enough to paint, sing, act out stories, explore live creatures, and make new friends with thousands of little ones each year. While it may seem like running over 500 Tide Pool Touch Tank programs each year would be rather repetitive, each and every time I go to the touch tank, roll up my sleeves, and plop my hands into the chilly water, the new faces and our repeat customers make the experience a new, magical “pop up” community of learners, listeners, and sharers. It’s something I’ve grown to treasure.
This year, some of my favorite interactions have not just been during our programming; instead, they have been more personal, one-on-one conversations related to our Mitten Drive. In an effort to spread the spirit of giving, the Museum & Theatre is asking our community to help us collect 150 mittens (or gloves!) for children experiencing homelessness this winter. At first, it seemed like a simple enough task: Ask people to give mittens. Receive mittens. Give Mittens to friends in need. However, this project has become much more.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve found myself in awe of the conversations I’ve overheard in our lobby by our Mitten Drive collection basket. I’ve heard young mothers explain to their children that they are giving mittens so that other children can stay warm this winter and watched as the children quietly soaked in that feeling of giving. I’ve watched grandmothers come in with hand-knit mittens with carefully spelled out instructions to wash in cold water—how magical to treat a person who you’ve never met with such care. I’ve watched an older child take off her own mittens, leave them in the collection basket, and walk out into the cold, her hands pushed deep into her pockets, but her shoulders and head held high from that feeling of making a difference, no matter how small.
If you’d like to share in the giving, please consider bringing new or gently used mittens the next time you come to play or if you’re passing by our 142 Free Street location during your downtown holiday adventures. We appreciate all you give to your community.
Happy Holidays from the Museum & Theatre!
Museum & Theatre Educator