How Full Is Your Bucket?

On one of the bright, crisp autumn mornings this week offered up, I headed out through the hills and dales of Lafayette Township to Patricksburg Elementary School for my beloved monthly “chore” of reading a book to Ms. Taylor’s kindergarten class. The children’s faces matched the sunny morning. After all, they got to step away from their desks and sit down to hear a story. What a way to start your day – for me and the students.

My visit was a result of the Real Men Read program sponsored by United Way of Monroe County which also serves our county. Your Owen County Community Foundation contributed a grant to the program which supplies a brand new book at each visit for all of the kindergarten students in Spencer-Owen Schools over the course of monthly visits during the school year. You might guess by the name of the program that what is being stressed is that reading is important and that, you guessed it, real men read.

Reading is such a crucial and fundamental skill that everything we can do to help make children comfortable with, or better yet, excited about reading as a part of their life is worth the effort. But let’s be honest, the men who volunteer at each of our elementary schools monthly and read to kindergartners are enjoying it as much as the kids.

On this, my first visit of the year, I read a wonderful book called How Full is Your Bucket?– for kids written by Tom Rath and Mary Reckmeyer and illustrated by Maurie J. Manning. This is the kid’s book version of the popular book by the same name (without the “for kids”) by Tom Rath and Donald O. Clifton which advocates a simple and positive view that we can improve our own lives and the lives of people with whom we interact by being positive and supportive in even our smallest interactions with others.

We can be a positive force in the world by filling the buckets of others with a drop of positivity here and a drop of cheerfulness there or we can empty buckets with meanness and negativity.

Our students heard the tale of Felix a young boy who, while having a pretty frustrating day, was told by his grandpa about the invisible buckets we all have over our heads as we go through the day. If our buckets are full, we feel great. When our buckets get empty, we feel pretty lousy. What grandpa’s secret revealed to Felix was that he could make the choice of filling buckets or emptying them.

Felix started the day with a mostly empty bucket which was leaking drop by drop until he noticed a positive comment from his teacher about a story he had written made him happy and put a drop in his bucket. And he learned one of the secrets of happiness in life, if you fill others’ buckets, yours fills up, too.

A thought occurred to me as I watched the children’s joyful faces and listened to the excitement in their pledges to go out and fill others’ buckets. These times call for more bucket filling.

As lying, negative political ads take drop after drop from our buckets, we need more than ever to find ways to help refill buckets. The negative tone of public discourse lately may require a bucket brigade of positivity to win out and fill our collective buckets. If we all pitch in to fill buckets instead of emptying them with negativity, we can improve the mood of daily life.

In my classroom visit, I watched as Ms. Taylor use drops of positive reinforcement to help fill her students’ buckets. As my day continued, I attended meetings where folks were discussing ways to fill the community’s bucket. At the end of my day, I chatted with my bucket filling neighbor Corey who was helping me with a washed out section of our lane. We have a lot of bucket fillers around here.

As the sun set, my bucket was full. I hoped looking back on the day that I had helped fill buckets at the same rate as those around me filled mine. The Real Men Read volunteers are filling buckets and celebrating reading. They are filling the buckets of these young students, while at the same time filling their own. Enjoy your own bucket filling as you go through your days. Hope yours gets filled, too.

Your Owen County Community Foundation is committed to helping our communities become better places to live, grow, and work. We value community involvement and charitable spirit. And we like to help fill buckets. If you’d like to know more about this local charity, give me a call at 812-829-1725, email me at, visit us online at our Facebook page or at, or stop by and visit us in person at our new office on the south side of the Courthouse Square at 60 E. Market Street in Spencer.