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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.

17 Responses to the journey of the 80 dollars

  • Bee says:

    It is great for the kids to feel empowered. And dropping $80.00 in the box is power!!! Each year on their birthday, each of my 3 kids pick a charity or organization (SPCA, local food pantry, a children’s hospital, clothes for a local shelter etc. ) and then instead of bringing for presents for the kids, each guest brings donations for the charity. The donations come wrapped so my kids get the excitement of unwrapping (even if it is dog food) and then together we take the donations to the local charity and deliver them (not always in a timely manner, but they get there.) We’ve been doing this for several years and the kids look forward to it – they start thinking about what organization to pick long before their birthday and it really does get them thinking of how to help others.

  • Kim R. says:

    I love this idea! As a parent sending my child to a birthday party that had requested this I would also feel really good about it! You know the child will get what they want with the half they have to spend and the other half going to charity is super inspiring. I see this happening next year!

  • frankasen says:

    I’ve seen similar requests at Bar Mitzvahs and other such celebrations, but I think you guys really hit the nail on the head by starting this EARLY in your children’s’ lives so that it is 2nd nature to them to think of others. I am so proud to know you, and although it’s too late for my grown kids (altho they are charitable in their own ways) I can’t wait to teach this to my future grand children!!! Go Kelcey and Rick!!

  • Steph says:

    How cute that Dylan was like “it came from my sister,” ’nuff said. Kids are hilarious. And so sweet that Summer could take part in the ice cream party. Cheers to children helping other children!

  • Lanie says:

    What a great idea! We have done something similar the last few years. The twins picked a charity (they have always chosen the humane society) and asked guests to bring items from the humane society wish list. People bring all kinds of things for the animals and then we deliver it. The twins have always had a great time bringing food and supplies to the animals (& at their party).

    I can not imagine not bring able to feed my children. It makes my heart hurt too. Thank you to all the Folbaums for helping to feed the hungry. xo

  • Kristina Dorfman says:

    I’m totally doing this, because I keep asking for people to donate instead of a gift and we still keep getting gifts 🙂 Nice suggestion, yes, it sounds odd, but I think people get it… plus, no parent in their right mind wants all those presents in the house!

  • Mary Clare says:

    The seems like a win-win for Summer, you and a charity! Summer gets to pick out her ONE special gift, your house doesn’t accumulate a ton of toys/birthday crap (which, if your kids are like mine, it will mostly be ignored after a day or two), and a good cause is supported.

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kelcey kintner