Mission Moms began with one mother’s vision…to show love and support to families met with challenging times while simultaneously teaching her own children how to serve. The importance of giving, serving within their communities and acting upon the kindness within their hearts is something every child possesses, it's our duty as parents to train-up that gift and leave a lasting mark upon someone else's lives.
I, Kathryn Flores, dreamed of Mission Moms in October 2011 after seeing our children’s (then Evan, 6 yrs and Lincoln 4 yrs) excitement about toys that would be available that Christmas. Commercials and magazines flooded their innocent souls and, as children do, wanted everything they saw in multiple colors and versions. We have always tried to lead them along the path of helping others, but we believe it takes action to make a lifelong impact. My husband Joe and I believe it is our obligation to groom two boys into men that will lead great families and make a difference in the lives of others. With the help of school counselors, the brainstorming began to take flight and we began orchestrating ways to teach children about serving with kindness and appreciation for their blessings. Each mission is personal, for a specific cause, with a unique focus, helping extraordinary people. Within days, Mission Moms grew tremendously, thus proving so many parents were looking for a way to teach their own children a Servant's heart. Our community was hungry to help and did not disappoint! There are so many fabulous causes and ways to give back, but seeing the needs here, in our backyard, was simply shocking. We hope our missions will energize area residents, businesses and organizations to begin reaching out to those that have met challenging circumstances and give them the kindness that we have been fortunate and blessed enough to experience. We believe we will provide the assistance needed to provide positive opportunities to help others that may otherwise go unnoticed to bigger charities. We are beyond humbled at such overwhelming reception that friends and their friends and relatives of friends have shown the families within our reach.
Our first mission was to provide a Thanksgiving meal to over 50 identified families within our elementary schools. We exceeded our goal and fed over 60 families a meal they would otherwise not had. Our first mission began on a chilly Sunday afternoon with our children unloading and organizing food items. Families distributed their donations and many ‘strangers’ showed up with boxes of food and turkeys. We used the mission to live out the Mission Moms vision of teaching our children, serving others and acting on kindness. The kids filled each box for each family with the donated items then loaded boxes into trucks. We delivered the meals two days later to area schools and they in turn, invited the identified families to take a box home for their Thanksgiving meal together. The public gathering gave caring people an opportunity to interact with one another and build rapport that will be useful on future projects. Children experienced real joy as their efforts helped others. One of the touching stories came from a family eager to use the school’s computer to search for instructions on how to cook a turkey. This was the first turkey this family had together and wanted everything to be just right. The many stories of gratitude melt the hearts of all of us that played a part in making their day perhaps a little more ‘thankful’. We believe every child deserves this love. Every child needs to feel love. And Mission Moms has many plans to reach more children.
Christmas Kindness was the next feat for Mission Moms. Our mission was to reach the families that will struggle to buy gifts for their children. Christmas is the time of year when we can teach our children to open their hearts to those needing more love, kindness or perhaps even luck. Our next mission, Christmas Kindness, collected unwrapped toys for identified elementary-aged children. Our goal was to help their parents deliver a gift in celebration of the magic of Christmas. We dream of them waking Christmas morning to a gift of celebration of the life they have been given and the opportunities that await them. We needed hundreds of unwrapped toys to achieve our goals. Mission Moms, our children and other willing volunteers rallied to wrap the gifts, sort them and tag. Then we were able to deliver the wrapped toys, sorted by family in large bags (to symbolize Santa’s gift sack) to our schools. The families picked up their bag at the schools and blessed their families with a Christmas unlike any other. Mission Moms rested well, just knowing that each child at our schools had a wrapped gift waiting for them on Christmas morning. This time of childhood innocence and Christmas magic is short. The impact on one small gift is lifelong. We exceeded our goals and were able to provide a blessing to over 230 families in the first year alone!
Spring came around and our very own Mission Moms member was overwhelmed with the idea of her son, "Mommy, can we sell our old stuff at the community garage sale and give money to Mission Moms to help more families?" The idea took flight and once again, the amazing community rallied and hundreds donated goods for the sale. Additionally, another Mission Mom awoke one morning to her daughter asking "Mommy, can I do a lemonade stand with my friends at the garage sale and give money to the families?" A parent dreams and prays for the hearts of our children to be full and open to serve. The vision for Mission Moms is working and our own children are the proof! We are all so, so blessed to be able to give and teach our children to give. One child at a time, we can make a difference! Our event was a huge success and we nearly doubled our goals! Proceeds raised assisted in funding the Summer Zone program. All summer long, we were able to provide food, books and a fun activity to many deserving families!
Coming off the summer mission directly into Blessings of the Backpacks which we provide backpacks to over 400 children at our community's schools. Many children look forward to starting school with new backpacks, lunchboxes and supplies. However, to certain families, it's another item that makes their children feel different. We are thrilled to help provide backpacks and lunchboxes and give them yet another opportunity to feel that precious, "normal" while also providing an opportunity to teach our own children to serve.
Again, this simple vision seems to be working…we’re hearing story after story of gratitude from families receiving our gifts as well as equal stories from families giving and that their children are really understanding empathy paralleled with action and what their hands and hearts are capable of. I often use the analogy of a mother’s fear of her children’s hands releasing hers and growing up way too fast. However, I'm learning when our children’s tight grip releases, it frees both of our hands to help someone else. That’s what Mission Moms is all about. TEACH. SERVE. ACT.