by Courtney Gilardi Coco
What does it mean to be a 'Christ's Disciples in the Community' when you are three years old?
And this is only the beginning, and only a small glimpse into the outreach ministry of our preschoolers.
One thing is for sure- the kiddos downstairs at the preschool have a mission. That mission is to be 'bucket fillers,' which is their version of being Christ's disciples in our local Lenox community. Bucket filling is a biblical concept made popular in the 60's by Dr. Donald O Clifton and refers to sharing and spreading the good news; our light, our love, our compassion and our kindness. When we act out of kindness, we fill the buckets of others, and fill our own in the process.
If you've visited the preschool over the years, you've probably seen actual buckets on the wall at preschool. Each bucket has a name, and when a child helps another, shares unselfishly, comforts another- they receive a symbolic 'bucket filler' in their bucket. It's actually a little wooden star glued to a Popsicle stick that the kids make and paint themselves. When the child receives five bucket fillers, they are sent home in a beautiful "bucket filler bouquet." The children are so proud when they are presented with their bouquet!
Each month, the children engage in being bucket fillers, not just in the classroom but in the community. As the wheel of the year turns, we move through our outreach missions with so much joy! October brings the food drive where we collect cans and boxes. November brings the Baking Angels where we turn simple ingredients into loaves of bread made with love. December is an extra special month. The preschoolers make cards for the 74 residents of Kimball Farms on Sunset. We sing for all of the residents, both those on the main floor and those in the dementia unit. We sing a mix of traditional carols and familiar nursery rhymes. Sometimes it is heart wrenching, but it is always heart warming. The children have never had any fear. They sing loud and love big and know that this is bucket filling at it's finest.
This will be our 6th year at Kimball Farms! We've also held gift drives for Christian Center families, held benefit concerts for those in need and built bird feeders for our feathered friends. Most years, we participate in the same ministries. These connect us to our community, create connections and continuity. They have helped us to build relationships and roots. Sometimes we have a parent or teacher who is passionate about a cause, and we join efforts. Each month we ask, what need exists, and what can we do to help? Sometimes organizations reach out to us, and sometimes, we reach out to them. No matter what cause we are supporting or what bucket we are working to fill, we always learn that no one is too small to make a big difference. We all have the power to be bucket fillers, even the littlest among us.