During the school year, my mom is a special education Earth Science teacher at a local high school. But every summer she runs a special-ed summer school program for disabled children. The work can be demanding and it is easy to get overwhelmed at times. To encourage her staff, my mother told them the story of the little boy and the stranded starfish. It went something like this:
A little boy and his father went to the beach one day. When they got there, they found that the beach was littered with thousands and thousands of starfish. The tide was going out and the starfish were stranded in the sun. Unless they could get back to the ocean, they would die. The little boy ran to the first starfish he could reach, picked it up and hurled into the water. He continued to do this, one starfish at a time. His father protested, pointing out how many starfish there were on the beach. It was impossible to save them all. There were too many starfish for the little boy’s effort to make any difference. The little boy listened to his father, picked up another starfish and flung it into the ocean. Then he turned to his dad and said “It made a difference to that one.”
My mother told her staff that the next time they got overwhelmed and started to question if what they did made any difference in the world at all, to remember the little boy and his starfish. She told them that each student in their program was a starfish and they had the opportunity to make a difference to that one.
Anyway, when I sat down to design my mom’s birthday gift, I was inspired by this story. I found a vial pendant on Etsy (an online market-place for handcrafted items). I got the idea to fill the vial with beach sand and sea shells because my mother loves going to the beach and never gets the opportunity because she spends all summer working on her program. I wanted to give her a little beach she could carry with her. I also wanted to add a starfish charm to remind her of why she wasn’t at the real beach.
My original idea was to make this a necklace but when I got the vial, it was MUCH larger than I had expected. Instead of putting it on a necklace chain, I put it on a ribbon long enough for my mom to hang it from her car’s rear-view mirror or to hang it up in her office at work.