You and your volunteers will probably have some wonderful ideas on fun activities to do with the children you meet in the motels. It can start out as simply as you and a volunteer just going to the motel (after you ask the owner or manager’s permission to be there) one afternoon to pass out peanut butter & jelly sandwiches. You may bring a few books for the children to keep. You may even bring games and sit down to play with the children.
All of these things are definitely simple and very much appreciated by the children. As you return again and again you will begin to build relationships with the children and possibly their parents. Your imagination will start to kick in because you want very badly to bring experiences to the children you know they’ve never had. You care about them and you want their lives to be better.
No matter what activity you plan, never, ever forget that your staging area is a motel parking lot, and parking lots have what? Cars. Lots of them, not necessarily parked. You will encounter moving, speeding cars for various reasons, ranging from the innocent fact the residents are trying to get to their room, all the way to someone who is high and out of control.
You are responsible for the children when you are with them. Don’t depend on their parents (although the majority of parents can be a responsible as you are with your own children). Don’t depend on anyone but yourself and your volunteers (whom you will thoroughly train and indoctrinate on keeping the children safe).
Lastly, resist the urge to bring items that bounce or roll—balls, baseball bats, tennis or badminton racquets, skates, skateboards, scooters, bicycles, etc. As much fun as they are, they are dangerous to the children in motel parking lots. There is nowhere safe for them to play with these items. Above all else do not give them away to the children to keep. No matter how many warnings you give them to be careful, they won’t. They’re children. You need to be the responsible adult.
Five minutes of feeling good about giving a child a toy you think they can’t live without may turn into the last toy they ever get and a lifetime of regret for you.