This post is my contribution to Blogust ’14—Shot@Life’s month-long campaign to provide vaccinations for kids in need around the world. Please know that every comment and social media share on this post (and all #Blogust posts) is equal to a vaccine for children across the world. You can help donate 500 vaccine donations by leaving a comment or clicking “Tweet” or “Like” to the left of this post. Thank you for supporting this very important effort!
Standing on the soccer field for yesterday’s first practice of the season, I had an opportunity to catch up with some parents I hadn’t seen all summer. Some remarked that when school got out, summer seemed long but now that it’s over, how they spent the time that went so quickly. Indeed summer was short but in between planned activities like dive practice, camp, and vacations, my ten year old daughter, Emily, raised $649 for charity by making and selling ribbon barrettes.
Last summer I remember Emily telling me, “We’re going over there to sell ribbon barrettes” as she and her best friend skipped off towards the pool snack bar during adult swim. At a quarter to each hour, the girls emerged from the pool dripping wet, grabbing a handful of ribbon, silver metal barrettes, and their handmade sign with a price list. Together they would sit for 15 minutes, taking a break from swimming and weaving ribbon in and out of the metal, as curious girls came up to see what they were doing.
A little shy, they told their potential customers they were making ribbon barrettes as a fundraiser to support cystic fibrosis (CF) research and bit about what CF is. When the whistle blew at the start of a new hour, the girls ran back to our table, carefully tucking soggy dollar bills and change into the coin purse that held their fundraising supplies. 45 minutes later they’d exit the pool and park themselves at their table again.
Last summer I merely thought it was cute that my daughter wanted to help raise money to fund research that benefits those with CF, including her best friend that she absolutely adores. I had no idea how truly dedicated she was to her first cause until this summer. Because this summer was different.
“Thank goodness!” Emily exclaimed, pulling out a lined journal that served as her accounting book from last summer. She flipped through the pages, remembering each and every sale. “Last year we donated $140,” she recalled. “I think we can raise $250 this year.”
From June, to July, and now into August, I’ve watched Emily transform from being a shy girl sitting snack bar with her sign and barrettes to a confident advocate for a cause she truly believes in. She decided that the new pins in the posts holding up the new umbrellas at the pool tables were the perfect place to hang her most recent creations, because the colorful ribbons blowing in the summer breeze were pretty and enticing to curious friends to come over and take a look.
As the months passed, I watched as Emily displayed a new level of confidence as she explained that the sale of each ribbon barrette would go benefit to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and why money was needed because of the new drugs that could make a different to people like her best friend. She was no longer the girl from last summer who sat at the table, hoping that others would notice.
Emily took charge with new ideas about how to market her ribbon barrettes to maximize exposure, enlisting my help posting photos on social media to expand her reach. She worried that friends who wanted to learn to make ribbon barrettes would use her supplies and started to give lessons only if they ponied up the money for the barrette first. She taught friends to make them and after they had made their own, they happily came over to provide pro bono help with the new orders coming in or serving as extensions of the marketing arm, running over to swim team friends to tell them to come over and have a look.
While I’m incredibly proud of Emily’s new confidence and the money she continues to raise, she’s not unusual! There are so many kids doing great things in the world but if you’re looking for a place to start with your family, here are five things that have contributed to her being a passionate advocate for her first cause.
1. Have a conversation
Talking with your children the ways your family supports causes is more important than modeling charitable giving. Elena Sonnino of LiveDoGrow.com suggest having a conversation about each of the following questions in her post called Talk to Children About Giving:
- Do my children know I give to charity?
- Do they know which charities I am supporting?
- Do they know why I choose to give specifically to this charity and the impact of my giving?
2. Inspire them
While it’s important for your child to see your family engaging in charitable acts, it’s also important for them to see kids their own age being activists and championing the causes they’re most passionate about. Disney’s new Citizen Kid site features video, blog posts, and social shoutouts to celebrate ordinary kids doing extraordinary things through
3. Let the idea come from your child
A year ago Emily’s friend, Melia, forgot her gloves during a winter walk. Her freezing cold hands motivated her to start a glove drive to benefit the area’s homeless. Melia’s original goal for Warm Hands, Warm Hearts was to collect a pair of gloves from every state but quickly surpassed her goal with gloves that were sent from around the world.
4. Ask how you can help
Once your child has an idea, ask what you can do to support them. In our house, everyone has played a part to support her ribbon barrette fundraiser as it took off! While Emily made the ribbon barrettes, I shared photos of her creations through social media, took orders, and served as the shuttle to the craft store for more supplies. Our eight year old son helped keep her ribbon organized and assisted with inventory. Dad served as the shipping department. Emily integrated her math skills into the project by taking care of the accounting and keeping careful track of ribbon barrette orders and deducting costs like postage and supplies to determine her overall total to be donated the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
5. Spread the word
There’s nothing more compelling than a child who can speak about a cause they’re passionate about. Not only does being an advocate teach kids great communication skills, but it gives them a new level of confidence. It gives them even more confidence when you let them know how proud you are of them by spreading the world to those you know too.
Now it’s your turn to spread the word in honor of Blogust!
During Shot@Life’s Blogust 2014—a month-long blog relay—some of North America’s most beloved online writers, photo and video bloggers and Shot@Life Champions will come together and share stories about Happy and Healthy Firsts.
Every time you comment on this post and other Blogust contributions, or share them via social media on this website, Shot@Life and the United Nations Foundation pages, Walgreens will donate one vaccine (up to 60,000).
Blogust is one part an overall commitment of Walgreens donating up to $1 million through its “Get a Shot. Give a Shot.” campaign. The campaign will help provide millions of vaccines for children in need around the world.