Squabbles over toys and TV programs notwithstanding, I’m constantly struck by kids’ seemingly natural instinct to share. Many show their innate philanthropy in quiet ways, like my nephew’s three kids who raised money for their local Humane Society by selling lemonade and cookies in their neighborhood. Others’ efforts take on a life of their own and go global, like those of painter Jeff Hanson and of nine-year-old Rachel Beckwith. Perhaps you’ve read about them.
Several years ago, Jeff began painting note cards while recuperating from chemotherapy and radiation treatment of a genetic condition that had left him sight impaired. For something to do, he began selling his note cards from a table in his driveway. The venture was an instant success, earning over $13,000 in three months! What would he do with the money? Not wanting anything for himself, he immediately starting giving it away, and to date, has donated more than $350,000 to more than 50 charities, mostly children’s health organizations. See Johnny Dodd’s “Heroes Among Us” piece in People Magazine or view Jeff’s entire story and see his incredible work here.
Rachel showed philanthropic leanings from a very early age, donating her hair to Locks of Love at age 5. When she was 8, she learned about charity:water at church and decided to forgo her 9th birthday party and ask her friends to donate $9 to the organization that provides clean water to people in Africa. She raised $220, a bit short of her $300 goal. But here’s where her story turns really sad and really happy, at the same time.
Soon after her birthday, Rachel died as the result of a 13-car pile-up on the highway near Seattle. To show their support of the family, friends and neighbors began donating to charity:water in her honor. The word spread. And how! Today, Rachel’s giving spirit is alive and well and shared by people worldwide whose donations to charity:water have topped $1 million! You can read a wonderful account of the way Rachel has inspired others in syndicated columnist Nicholas D. Kristof’s “The Last Fundraiser”, which appeared in papers August 14, 2011. http://tinyurl.com/3mkce4z
The take-away message here? Be inspired by these kids! Share the stories with the children you love and inspire them to do what comes naturally: Sharing.