INDIANAPOLIS — Giving groups on Facebook have been a source of much-needed joy for tens of thousands of Hoosiers over the past several weeks. The grown-up groups like “Wined by Friends Indiana” —which we highlighted last week— seem to be the fastest-growing.
But when children observed their parents basically playing ding-dong ditch with presents at other people’s doorsteps, they wanted to get in on the fun, too!
It’s the kids’ turn to spread the joy of giving on this trip “In Your Neighborhood.”
”I think the kids were more impacted by this [shutdown] than adults,” explained Ciera Johnson. “You have to think about the kids not seeing their friends, not being able to go outside and play… change for a kid is a lot more interrupting in their schedule than it is for adult, I think.”
“[My son] will ask, ‘Hey, why can’t we go to the park?’ And I say, “Oh, because the park is being sanitized right now,” she added.
But while out delivering wine for her grown-up’s only giving group, her son’s eagerness to help gave her an idea that would give other Hoosier kids something to look forward to.
“He said, ‘I want to do it! I want to do it! I want to give somebody juice!’ And I was like ‘Uhh, okay!” Johnson recalled with a laugh.
With the support of her friends and husband, who all affirmed her great idea, Johnson started “Indiana Snack Attack for Kids” on Facebook.
It’s a group where parents and guardians can connect and coordinate surprise “snack attacks” for other local children in their area.
Members of the group have found “snack attacking” to be a great way to spread positivity and engage with their kids in a fun activity… while maintaining a safe social distance.
“Since school got out really early and we were basically forbidden to see anybody and all the parks closed and all the kids’ activities closed, this was a really good thing to do,” Johnson said. “We’re still doing social distancing, we’re still staying away from people and we’re able to make kids days because we left them a candy bar or a toy… It’s kind of like Christmas in the summer.”
The way it works is after meeting the required criteria and being approved to join by an administrator, parents then share an “About Me” post with info such as their kids’ ages, favorite treats, characters, colors and other preferences, as well as their zip code.
But unlike some of the grown-up giving groups, the emphasis on privacy and safety is front and center, which is a major reason why parents like Kendra Taylor say they decided to join.
“Ciera has it very protected. She wants no addresses posted openly, so that helps,” said Taylor. “And the few [families] that have actually [snack] attacked us are people I’ve known almost my whole life, so I’m really comfortable letting them come to my door.”
When they decide to snack attack another child/family, parents connect privately via direct message to learn their delivery address, then team up with their own little ones to put together a basket full of goodies.
But when it comes to Taylor and her daughter, 7-year-old Miah-Rae Byrum, who decides what goes inside the snack baskets?
“I throw some ideas out but ultimately she’s calling the shots on it….She’s definitely the boss,” Taylor says.
“I’m a kid, so I know what kids like!” Miah-Rae added.
Then, it’s time for the delivery, which is the best part because it basically feels like a game.
“I would give [my son] a basket and I would say, ‘Okay, that’s the house! That’s their porch, go ahead!’ … and he would run, put it on their porch and run back and say, ‘Go, go, go!” said Johnson.
And when you’re on the receiving end…
“I just felt joy,” recalled Miah-Rae Byrum.
Now, with the help of her mom, she’s spreading that joy by continuing to paying it forward.
“We would snack attack whether they had gotten attacked or not,” Taylor explained. “I would personally rather give than receive. And this could change somebody’s whole entire day.”
Four Things You Need to Know About the “Indiana Snack Attack for Kids” Facebook group:
- Ciera Johnson decided to start “Indiana Snack Attack for Kids” after taking her son, Hudson, with her on some of her deliveries for her grown-up wine gifting group, “Wined by Friends Indiana.” When Hudson seemed emphatic about wanting to help out and “give somebody some juice”, she realized that there was a need for kids to be able to have their own group, gifting kid-friendly treats while learning the joy of giving.
- When it comes to Indiana Snack Attack for Kids group and other local kid-focused giving groups (like “Little Juicers of Howard County”), parents appreciate how the group administrators take safety and privacy seriously, by making sure no addresses are publicly shared on the page and by vetting all potential members before they can join.
- Johnson sees this as a great activity not only to teach the joy of giving, but also as something to do with their children to engage them and get them out and about, while maintaining social distancing. The group members love to share photos and videos of their baskets being delivered and messages of appreciation from those who have been snack attacked. “A lot of the parents are doing more than one at once, which is incredible,” said Johnson. “I actually got a couple videos of kids preparing the baskets, taking pictures beside the baskets and watching them dart to peoples’ houses and coming back.”
- Parents say their kids are really taking the reins with making these baskets and deciding what treats to include but, oftentimes, you’ll see something for the grown-ups, like a bottle of wine or some coffee as well. They say it’s a bit of a nod between parents, saying, “We’re in this together.”