My husband works for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Through his job I am able to witness medical miracles, courageous determination and amazing acts of selflessness. Many times, it is a child who amazes me the most.
In his current campaign, Man and Woman of the Year, he has recruited candidates for a ten week fundraising competition where the men compete against each other, as do the women. The candidates are running in honor of a Boy and Girl of the Year. This year’s boy hero is eight year old Blake Kamstra. Blake had been in remission from Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) for 3 years. Right after the campaign kicked off last month, he relapsed. This weekend, Blake’s nine year old cousin, Brooke, set up a lemonade stand and raised $5,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
Watching Blake and Brooke’s story on the news brought back memories of the first time I felt compelled to help someone in need. I was nine years old and while watching TV, saw an advertisement for Save the Children. It explained that for a few pennies a day, you could help a needy child in a far-away part of the planet. I asked my father to donate part of my weekly allowance because I was so shocked to see the conditions that children my age and younger were enduring.
While my first involvement with charity was to donate money, many children see a need and find other ways to help. Twin grandchildren of one of my clients, did just that. In November, 2011, ten year old Hannah and Alex started Adopt-A-Book after they were surprised to learn there are many children in Greater Cincinnati who do not have their own books. They have collected and donated over 13,000 books in the short time since founding their charity, giving less fortunate children a wonderful gift.
A great introduction to charity for your children or grandchildren is an organization called Heifer International. Their mission is “to work with communities to end hunger and poverty and care for the Earth.” They do this by raising money to give impoverished individuals livestock “giving a hand-up, not a handout” so their family can be fed today and in the future. For as little as $20, you can donate a flock of chicks. One hen can lay up to 200 eggs a year – giving a family plenty to eat, share or sell. A few years ago my father introduced this concept to my niece and nephew by giving them Heifer animals for Christmas instead of yet another toy or electronic device.
It’s never too early to introduce the concept of helping others. While cleaning out your house or garage this spring, set aside items to donate to your favorite cause. Children learn by example. And so can adults!