Leslie Simpson, OBE, has done wonders for the charity operation she named Roundabout. Most of us Beijingers have heard of them and put in a good word for them, and are thankful that through them, we are able to pass on some of our previously-loved home furnishings or accessories to others who can use them yet again. Truly it is for a worthy cause that we are all somehow involved in Leslie’s amazing work.
Recently, Roundabout gave even the littler ones in our families a chance to be heroes in their own right as well. With the Junior Volunteer Program at Roundabout, children as young as 8 years old can come into the back room of the huge space in Shunyi and give an hour of their Saturday to do “work.”
To watch the volunteers and be with them does not feel like work at all. The tasks they are assigned are carefully thought out and age-appropriate. Children are ideal workers to sort through children’s clothes and determine whether it is for a boy or girl, or summer or winter. They can easily say whether a stuffed animal is in good condition, and quickly identify where a stray toy part belong. Many hands make light work, and well before the hour is up and long before the chatting and exchange of stories is completed, the task is done.
When families pick their children up at the end of the hour, children invariably echo, “Already?!” The period has gone by so fast and it feels to them like they’ve just had a play date. They enjoy knowing their work is important, and when the team leaders talk to them about the work they are doing and who it is for, these children understand they are in a privileged position at the moment and want to give back to those less fortunate than themselves. Even a 15-year-old teenager who first went reluctantly, thinking it wouldn’t be cool to be seen with little kids, left the sorting area admitting that he had a great time.
As they walk back through the shop to leave, the children pause and browse through the goodies on display. Who’s to stop them from doing a little shopping of their own? Perhaps as a little reward for the work they’ve put in. But even the act of treating themselves is ploughing their pocket money back for the beneficiaries of the sale. Truly, at Roundabout, it’s all about giving.
Roundabout Charity Store
Mon – Sat 9.30am – 5.30pm. Yuyang Road West, Off An Hua Road (Behind Yosemite Villa Compound), Shunyi District (137 1877 7761 English, 137 1805 3814 Chinese only)http://www.roundaboutchina.com
Photo by Dana Cosio-Mercado
Dana is the beijingkids Shunyi Correspondent. Originally from the Philippines, she moved to Beijing in 2011 (via Europe) with her husband, two sons and Rusty the dog. She enjoys writing, photography, theater, visual arts, and trying new food. In her free time, she can be found exploring the city and driving along the mountain roads of Huairou, Miyun and Pinggu.