Integrate kids into your giving program

Friday, 13 July @ 12:00 AM

My favorite story about giving occurred just after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans.  We had been threatened with more than one hurricane in Tampa that year and my daughter, who was 7 at the time) was glued to the TV watching the news.  After hearing about all the loss and devastation, she turned and looked at me and said “I’ve got it!  I’ll sell lemonade and cookies and raise money and send it to them!”.

Both thrilled by her giving heart and struck by the reality of the fact that we live in a tiny community that is gated, I knew that on a holiday weekend, she wouldn’t get much traffic to her little stand.  Undeterred, she went ahead and started planning, drafting several people to bake for her.  She expanded the idea from cookies to cakes, cupcakes, brownies and cookies and put together a flyer.  She then took it to every house in the neighborhood and I emailed it to friends.

Her dad and I agreed to “match” her fund raising efforts and on the following Monday her dad took her to the American Red Cross here in Tampa.  You may remember that we were an evacuation area for those impacted, so the person at the desk was tired.  She asked “Honey how can I help you?”  Kiera said that she had raised money for the people from Katrina.  The woman said “Well honey, how much did you raise?”.  Kiera gave them cash and checks totaling $2,400!  The woman took her right back to meet the local director, who took her picture in front of the Red Cross flag.

That experience spurred a desire in my daughter to give back and set me on a mission to find a way for kids to be able to volunteer their time.

I was actually amazed to find out that most charities do not let kids volunteer.  Intellectually, I understood the liability issue, but in my heart, I knew there had to be a way.

Right off the bat I thought about the matching that we had done with Kiera’s little bake sale and the neighbors, teachers and friends that bought a brownie and a lemonade and gave her a $20 bill and told her to keep the change.  I thought about Habitat for Humanity and how kids would be perfectly suited to help plant flowers once a house was completed or at minimum to help spread mulch.  I thought about how the kids could create designs for the bags or boxes used for Meals on Wheels, so that the recipients would be cheered up by more than the meal or the volunteer.

I knew that if we gave the kids a chance, they would come up with an unlimited store of ideas.  I secured the URL and talked to my attorney about setting up a 501c3.

The timing wasn’t right for me then to pursue it, but I’m thinking now that there may be other people who visit Philanthropegie who are willing to brainstorm with me and figure out how to tap into this amazing resource.

Their hands may be little, but their hearts are huge.  And while their store of treasures may be small, they have parents, friends and family that would gladly match the funds raised by these giving hearts.

Let’s give it some thought together.

Stay tuned.

Chicke Fitzgerald


One thought on “Integrate kids into your giving program

  1. Love this, Chicke.

    I spend quite a bit of time around young people and I am often impressed with their genuine interest in helping others. It’s great to see selflessness blossoming in the midst of our “what’s-in-it-for-me” society.

    Thanks for sharing this example and for calling out to others to think about ways to tap into the full potential of our youth.


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