The Birth of the Infinite Smile Project
It is difficult to decide how to spend a winter birthday when one lives in a year-round sunny wonderland and able to play at the beach practically every day, while others are buried in 10 feet of snow; the celebration opportunities are endless in Orange County. There’s not a single material thing that I need, however, there is one innate want I have always wanted my children to posses ; to have children that were kind. The sort of children that find more joy in giving and caring for others than they do receiving things for themselves.
As my three year old twins entered preschool for the first time I took notice of the delight and gratification that graced their adorable faces when they would run out of their classroom door with a special handmade trinket for me. Then came Christmas with a plethora of presents for these adored little girls. What surprised me was that they waited all morning to open their gifts but couldn’t wait to adorn everyone else with their gifts. With smiles that can melt any heart I watched them then decided this will be the best birthday ever. 10 days later we planned a day around town that signified my birthday but celebrated them and the kindness in their hearts. Thus began our spectacular day inaugurating the Infinite Smile Project……
We spent Friday night making wands, boxing items for marines and treats for firemen. Saturday morning we hit the streets of Orange County starting with a meal for a friend with a newborn and then headed off to the firehouse. At first shot the girls wanted to eat the ice cream themselves not easily convinced it was better to give it to someone else to eat. That’s just a ridiculous request to ask of a 3 year old, right Moms? However once they saw the reaction they got from people they kicked it into high gear and were on a roll. Lucky for us, the firemen were slow that morning so we got a tour of the station and they got to hang out in the fire truck for a bit. Can’t say I wasn’t envious.
Next we headed to Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC) and delivered coloring books, crayons and stickers to the children. After spending some time there earlier this year, our one twin wasn’t sure this is where she wanted to be, and it took a lot of convincing to get her to understand it was a different sort of trip than the last. We explained to her that when she was trying to walk again after her surgery the toy chest at the end of the hall helped motivate her to walk and made her so happy. Now it was our turn to make other kids who weren’t feeling well walk again to the end of the hall. She was sold. Onward and upwards to act of kindness #3…….
The animal shelter I have determined is a kids’ utopia. Housing chickens, pigs, cats, dogs and other animals our kids were in Heaven. The staff there was the most excited out of all of our stops that day and took the girls on a private tour of the shelter meeting all the animals. A box of dog biscuits and kitty treats never went so far. It was our kids’ favorite random act of the day.
We couldn’t think of a better random act of kindness than sending some American favorites to one of our deployed marines. We boxed up many of the items this marine wrote on his page and sent him some treats, playing cards and toiletry items he said he needed. This one wasn’t as fun for the kids since they couldn’t see the reaction of the recipient but it was our favorite act that day. For anyone that wants to send something to a marine or any other active military go to www.anysoldier.com.
All do-gooders need a pit stop to refuel and off to lunch we went to re-energize the kiddos. If any of you have ever waited tables you know it is a hard job that requires long shifts on your feet, lots of patience, and sometimes great tips, but many times not. This waiter did give us a delicious birthday kona pie so we figured he would appreciate a nice tip on a kid’s meal along with a sparkly wand.
Last stop was a child’s paradise, “Castle Park”. Initially the kids just wanted to take off and play in their favorite park with all the jungle gyms and brick castles but once they laid one wand in the sand they were once again focused and persevered. In several places in the park we laid wands with things like sidewalk chalk, bouncy balls, sand buckets and bubbles. As we walked away unsuspecting children started walking towards the sparkly wands that seemed to draw attention sticking out of the sand gleaming in the sunlight. It was so fun to watch these looks of confusion, then delight.
There was however one downside to this day. The kids didn’t want to stop and now I can’t think of more random acts quickly enough or make enough glitter wands for them. Throughout the day we had many discussions as to why we were leaving these items for people. You know, because a 3 year old can ask “why?” about 14,000 times a day. The best part was the next day when they would tell others how they left colorings books for sick kids because they needed them and ice cream for fireman because they help us every day. Precious.
The day concluded with some very tired philanthropists and some adults who ended the day with friends and live music. We gathered up our amazing friends and fellow parents for some dinner and a U2 cover band to celebrate (www.hollywoodU2.com, they’re pretty fabulous). Our last random act was giving each of our friends, all with young children, a wand for their kids to enjoy and share The Infinite Smile Project in their town. So the next time you are in the park or see something sparkling in the sun go check it out, it might just make your day.
Written By: OCDP Director Kim Esmond