Fostering Good Will

December 19, 2014 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF

I spend a lot of time worrying if I’m a good enough father. My concerns aren’t so much that my son’s being raised by two dads or that he’s adopted — though I know both of those will bring challenges along the way. Something I do worry about lately is that we’re raising an overly-entitled child.

It could be argued that it’s because Jon’s an only child. Or that we started habits of “giving in” early on. Or that he’s a 5-year-old whose only concerns are for himself. Regardless of the reasons, the truth is that very little in society works to counteract such a sense of entitlement. Reality shows, social media, selfies, (ahem) blogs — all reinforce that it’s all about ME, all the time.

So we wanted to start teaching Jon about being charitable — thinking beyond what’s in it for him. When the opportunity to work with Lee Jeans on their #LeeGoodDeed campaign came along, I knew I’d found the perfect opportunity.

AND NOW, A MESSAGE FROM OUR SPONSOR

Yes, this is a paid post for Lee Jeans. I’m sorry if that ruins the vibe of my story, but posts like this are what afford me the ability to keep blogging. And if you’ve followed the blog for any amount of time, some of these partnerships have resulted in some pretty incredible experiences.

TIME TO PLUG THE JEANS
If you’re like me, the last time you’d worn Lee Jeans, you were also wearing a Members Only jacket and Pony sneakers with a Velcro strap. They just weren’t on my fashion radar. Then last year, Lee was a sponsor at a conference I attended, and they fitted everyone with a new pair of jeans. Honest-to-god, they were (are) the most comfortable pair of jeans I’ve owned in many, many years. And for this partnership, they hooked me up with ANOTHER pair, equally as comfy. Tucked in the back pocket was a list of ideas for my #LeeGoodDeed assignment…

Lee Jeans Good Will

Woot! @LeeJeans sent me some spiffy new jeans. Wonder what my #LeeGoodDeed is gonna be…

I initially wrote this entire post without remembering to talk about the jeans. Why is that worth mentioning? Because when I’m taking my energetic 5-year-old to a new place, for a new experience, packed with tons of people I don’t know, I need to be 2 things: comfortable and flexible. And I don’t need to be worrying or thinking about my clothes. The fact that I was able to keep an eye on my kid and enjoy the day without worrying about how I felt (like if my pants were too tight, too loose or too scratchy) is immeasurably valuable. I realize it might sound silly if you’re not a parent, but a man my size chasing after a nimble preschooler (see video below) is NOT a pretty sight. But I know at least my pants looked good.

WE NOW RETURN YOU TO YOUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED PROGRAM

Over the last year, we’ve had the pleasure of befriending a group of gay dads and their kids in our area. Rob is one of the fathers in our group. He and his husband Reese live in big house in the outer burbs of DC with their 4 kids, a dog, goats, ducks, chickens and a pond full of fish. Needless to say they love their busy, noisy life, and we love being around them. Rob is also the founder of Comfort Cases, an organization he started a year ago with the goal of providing suitcases for foster kids.

Why suitcases? Five years ago Rob and Reese adopted their kids through the foster care system. Each child arrived with nothing more than a trash bag full of a few worn out clothes. Their daughter had 8 cavities because she didn’t own a toothbrush. A few decades prior, Rob himself was a foster child, also arriving at a new home with only a trash bag holding his few belongings. Watch Rob share about Comfort Cases on CNN.com.

When Rob invited us to the Comfort Cases “packing party,” we knew it would be a great way to show Jon some altruism in action. A couple of days before, Jon and I headed to the store so he could help me pick out things to pack in the cases. I made sure to explain ahead of time that we would NOT be buying him anything. The closer we get to Christmas, the less and less I’ve been taking him shopping with me — it’s just too much of a mental strain on us both. But our mini-spree went off without a hitch, and we came away with many of the items on the Comfort Cases shopping list.

My little guy displaying the stuff we got for our #leegooddeed! Post coming tomorrow! @lifeofdad @leejeans #teaser A photo posted by Brent Almond (@designerdaddy) on

On the day of the packing party, we arrived at Rob’s company’s office, where they’d cleared out the cubicles and set up a massive assembly line. Our donations were sorted into the various bins of pajamas, blankets, toiletries, activities, etc. and we got in line with what looked like a couple hundred people, to fill up the scores of suitcases, backpacks, and duffel bags.

Yet we soon realized that Jon was not going to last long standing in a slow-moving line. I flagged down a volunteer and asked her if there was something a lively 5-year-old could help with, and she immediately put him to work as a runner. I’m not sure there’s ever been a more fitting job description for someone.

Jon really enjoys his job as a “runner” at the Comfort Case packing party. And he never drops his donut. #multitask #leegooddeed @lifeofdad @leejeans A video posted by Brent Almond (@designerdaddy) on

After a couple of hours of me and Papa packing, Jon running, and me and Papa periodically checking on Jon to make sure he wasn’t jumping into the pile of finished cases (he was), we said our goodbyes to Rob and Reese and the several other friends from our gay dads posse that had also come to help out. Rob sent us all an email later that day, saying they’d surpassed their goal of packing 1,000 bags — the final count was 1,136. That brought the total number of bags Comfort Cases had collected in 2014 to 6,000. Astounding. But also harrowing, when you realize they were all donated in the DC area only.

Fostering Good Will for Christmas Lee Jeans

I know Jon doesn’t yet understand what all was going on or what it was for. But it was a good start, and I was able to not worry for a few moments if I was being a good father.

Someday soon, Jon will learn and understand more about where he came from; and he might imagine what life would have been like had he not been adopted. Sometimes I think about that, too, knowing that it would have very likely involved him arriving at a new house carrying his few belongings in a trash bag. Maybe that’s why we spoil him a little more than we should. But that’s also why I’m so grateful for organizations like Comfort Cases, for all that our family has in our lives, and for the opportunity to give some of it back.

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For more photos of our #LeeGoodDeed at the Comfort Cases packing party, check out the album on the Designer Daddy Facebook page.

For more information about Comfort Cases, visit their web site.

To purchase Lee Jeans, visit your local Kohl’s, JCPenney or Sears, or at Lee.com.

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Disclosure: I have partnered with and was compensated by Life of Dad, LLC and Lee for this promotion.

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comments

One response to “Fostering Good Will”

  1. Bekah Walsh says:

    Such a cutie! Looks like the runner role suited him well! And what a cool concept! I’ve volunteered with something similar but international. It makes me happy to see packing parties for kids in need stateside!

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