June 20 – Visitors to Jungle Town Daycare on Shallowford Road are greeted with a published print of a quote from Martin Luther King Jr.
It reads: “The most persistent and pressing question in life is what you are doing for others.”
Inside the Christian Day Care Center, which is operated by Husband and Wife Team Mark and Colleen Aitkenhead, the message is built into the program.
Each classroom has a shelf of piggy banks and each is labeled with a child’s name. Children deposit coins in banks for targeted donations which often land around the world. The piggy bank ministry is a way to teach toddlers and preschoolers the virtue of gratitude and the joys of giving, Jungle Town leaders say.
Often, children do chores around the house to earn pennies, dimes, and quarters. Other times, parents and grandparents simply donate jars or plastic bags filled with coins.
The Aitkenheads, originally from South Africa, run two day care centers here, the Shallowford Road location and another site in Hixson, with just over 100 children combined.
Over time, children have collected coins to build a church roof in Africa, dig a well for a small town in India, buy shoes for children in an orphanage, and even help a classmate with pain. diabetes.
âWe want them to learn to appreciate what they have,â said Colleen Aitkenhead, âand [to] realize that there are these other children who don’t have so many blessings.
“It’s an attitude of gratitude, gratitude and appreciation that we try to foster in children.”
Colleen Aitkenhead has ticked off some of the piggy bank ministry highlights in recent years:
– When a group of children from a Ugandan orphanage visited Chattanooga, the Aitkenheads noticed that their shoes were worn. They arranged to take the children to a local mall, where they were each fitted with black athletic shoes. Months later, when the kids returned to Chattanooga, daycares provided them with another set of shoes to take home.
– When the parents of a student with diabetes expressed the need for a diabetes service dog to help detect the child’s rapid drops in blood sugar, the children of Jungle Town provided money for help with the purchase while the daycare owners adjusted the family’s daycare expenses to help them manage their cash flow.
– When the father of a child joined a local police department, the kids raised $ 500 in their piggy bank to help pay for a Kevlar bulletproof vest for the officer.
– In 2018, when Jungle Town officials learned they could provide funds to dig a well for a village in western India, coins were collected to help provide water drinking water to about 500 people.
– Earlier this year, the children raised $ 1,500 to help a missionary buy school supplies for children in Laos, a country in Southeast Asia.
By reaching out to good causes around the world, Jungle Town leaders say they hope to teach children, from an early age, to think beyond the borders of their own city, state and nation.
âIt helps kids know that there are different cultures and places,â said Colleen Aitkenhead. “We show them that we are only a small part on the map. We want them to know how blessed we are. We want them to be grateful.”
Life Stories is published on Mondays. To suggest a human interest story, contact Mark Kennedy at [email protected]