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By Glenda Meekins of the Florida Catholic staff

For three brothers, a hot summer day was an opportunity to share their blessings with others. Their mom, Jessica, took them shopping for school supplies and then donated three backpacks full to the clients of Catholic Charities of Central Florida.

It was part of their summer long ‘Thoughtful Thursdays’. “I am trying to teach them to give back,” said Jessica.

“In order to keep us busy with activities all week long for the summer, we came up with a theme for every day of the week,” said Jessica, a parishioner of Good Shepherd Parish in Orlando. The children had a part in choosing the themes like Make Believe Monday and Technology Tuesday. Thoughtful Thursday was selected as a day to do something thoughtful for family, friends or the community.

Through Jessica’s example, her children have witnessed faith in action. During Lent, she committed to doing 40 acts of kindness. “I left notes on windshields at Trader Joe’s – just a little happy grin, or I would send somebody a message just to say ‘Hello’. I felt I needed to get the boys doing it at a young age so that, hopefully, they will continue to do it as they grow older.”

And practicing acts of kindness has made a notable difference. “I see them doing it more on their own now. The world that we live in is quite the opposite. So we are just trying to be good citizens and make a good mark in the world,” noted Jessica.

This particular Thursday, the children each selected a backpack for a needy child. Choices were made according to taste, blue green camo with frogs and another with sharks. When mom reminded them that “girls need school supplies too,” Ethan stepped up and decided to oblige. Then the backpacks were filled with paper, pencils, glue, crayons and a variety of other school supplies.

Other Thoughtful Thursday activities included bringing cat food to an animal shelter and donating some of their toys. Ethan and Roman said their favorite activity was creating handmade Father’s Day cards for their ‘grandpas’ that lived out of state and mailing them. Mitchell enjoyed playing with the cats at the animal shelter most.

While the children may not have understood their acts of kindness specifically as spiritual or corporal works of mercy, all agreed that it felt good to give back. And although everyone, including mom, is ready to return to school, the boys learned valuable lessons in compassion, love and mercy.