Last year for Summer’s birthday, we asked for no gifts. Instead, we requested money ($10 or $15) so that Summer could spend half the money on a really special toy and give the other half to charity.
It felt weird to ask for money but it was less than someone would spend on a present anyway and I felt really good about my kids raising money for those in need.
Summer ended up collecting $80 to donate and we planned on giving it to a local community center that helps out disadvantaged families. Then life intervened. Rick got a new job, we had a baby, we sold our house, we bought a new house and moved to Florida. Recently, as we were unpacking, we found the envelope with the $80.
My two older girls, Dylan and Summer, asked what we should do with it. I said – let’s just buy a new iPod! Okay, what I really said was… Let’s give it to tzedakah at Dylan’s Hebrew school.
In Dylan’s Hebrew class, they collect money each week (called tzedakah) to donate to a charity. It’s part of a religious obligation to help those in need and each week the kids are encouraged to throw in a few coins. It doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, you give whatever you can to help others.
So Dylan, Summer and I briefly discussed giving the money to tzedakah and then I kind of forgot about the whole conversation. I guess because I have 5 kids or something.
A few weeks later, I received a phone call from Dylan’s teacher who wanted to know if we had really meant to throw 80 dollars into the tzedakah box.
Dylan had just walked into class, put 80 bucks in the tzedakah box and sat in her seat. It wasn’t until the teacher inquired where the money came from that Dylan spoke up and said, “That’s from my sister Summer.”
That is all she said.
At which point, the teacher said, “Can I have your mother’s number please?”
I explained the back story to Dylan’s teacher. Turns out Dylan’s Hebrew class won an ice cream party for raising the most money and yes, Summer was the special guest.
Per our request, the money will be donated to children that are hungry. Did you know that nearly one in five children in America lives in households that struggle to put food on the table?
Can you imagine as a mother not being able to feed your children? Can you imagine that child trying to learn and function without sufficient, healthy food? It makes my heart hurt to think about it.
Summer’s 7th birthday is quickly approaching and although it feels funny to ask a bunch of parents that I don’t know for money instead of crappy Barbie dolls, I am going to do it.
It took nearly a year for that 80 dollars to find its way to the right place.
But it reminded me of the importance and power of giving.