Mollie Glover didn’t get any presents for her 10th and 11th birthdays and she didn’t want any. That’s because she asked her mom and the friends who come to her parties to help her raise $250 a year to send a Guatemalan student to junior high school instead. Kimberley is Mollie’s student, the one she committed to support for 3 years so Kimberley would have a better chance to escape a life of poverty. The two of them have learned a bit about each other and become more a part of each other’s lives through the letters they exchange.
The inspiration for Mollie’s philanthropy came from discussions with her mother, Anne Marie Daggett, who had attended a party for some students and their sponsors in San Lucas Toliman, Guatemala. The two of them talked about what it is like to live in a third world country, as well as the importance of sharing our money to make a difference in the world.
A 2013 study at the Indiana University School of Philanthropy found that “Parents who talk to their children about charitable giving significantly increase the likelihood that those children will give to charity.” As you might suspect, the researchers also found that children give more if their parents actively contribute, especially when combined with family discussions about giving.
The research, which was reported in the Women Give 2013 report, can be found at Women’s Philanthropy Institute News. Their on-line article about the research also included comments by Kathy Calvin, then President and CEO of the UN Foundation. She said, “This study confirms what we at the UN Foundation view as one of the most powerful trends of our time. Young people are a force for positive change in the world.”
That’s awesome news, and while I hadn’t heard it stated in those terms, I have certainly been aware of a growing number of articles about kids like Mollie who are a positive force for change because of their charitable giving, whether their project is to provide significant help to a single individual as Mollie is doing, or whether they have accessed the internet to raise big bucks for a community project.
Here are some of those examples I’ve learned about recently.
Five-year-old Phoebe Russell had to complete a community service project to graduate from kindergarten. Yes, kindergarten! After seeing a homeless man begging for food, she raised $3,736.30 which funded 17,800 heated meals.
Nine-year-old Alyssa Garvey’s grandmother gave her grandchildren $50 each at Christmas with the instructions they were to use it to raise more money for the charity of their choice. Alyssa, with the help of friends, raised $5,600 for the Health and Dental Services Center of her local Boys and Girls Club.
In 2007, Zach Bonner started a series of really long walks to raise money for homeless children. The first one was from Tampa to Tallahassee, and they got longer every year. In 2010, when he was 12, he walked from Tampa to Los Angeles, where he met Elton John who donated $25,000 to Zach’s Little Red Wagon Foundation.
Kids like Mollie, Phoebe, Alyssa and Zach make all of us proud of them, and they are not alone. Across this continent hundreds of young people are making a difference in the world. While some adults may say, “I can’t do that,” these kid philanthropists say, “Yes I can.”
How about you?
By Judy Osgood