Monday, April 18, 2011
If you've been following our family for a while, you know that one of Brynn's gifts is her desire to give. She is empathetic and compassionate, moved to action for causes all over the world. Like some of her friends, Brynn has celebrated birthdays with "give it away" parties where she had her friends bring donations to give away rather than giving presents to Brynn. She always gives away at least 10% of whatever she takes out of her bank account -- she does not need to be reminded or begged to do this. It is natural for her.
One of the most amazing teachers I have ever met is a third grade teacher at Brynn's school and this year, at the urging of some of her students, she agreed to start a school club where students would make something to give to the community. Brynn joined enthusiastically -- it was right up her alley, of course. She then went on to begin organizaing a club of her own, called "HELP," which she and a friend decided stands for Helping Everyone Love Peace. Their plan is to make crafts that they can sell and then donate all of their profits to deserving organizations.
As Brynn began to get more and more enthusiastic about this idea, I received an email from my friend Chelsea Peters who is starting a new foundation in Uganda called Atin Afrika. You can (and really, really should) read more about her organization at her temporary homepage here. Once her permanent site is up, I will re-link this post to it. I know Chelsea from our time in Mexico -- she was a middle school teacher in PV while we were living in San Pancho and she co-ran an organization called MexiMutt which was gracious enough to help us re-home our favorite street dog, Bubbles.
I told Brynn a little about Chelsea's new organization and Brynn was intrigued. She immediately wanted to start using HELP to create items for sale and pass on the profits to Atin Afrika. This weekend, as Brynn and I went from thrift store to thrift store to collect the raw materials for her crafts, I updated her on how Chelsea is doing with fundraising and what is going on in the meantime with the kids she's trying to help. I told her about how Morris, Chelsea's Atin Afrika partner in Uganda, has been visiting one particular child, Junior, on the street every day. I told her how Junior has been cold lately, as the Ugandan rainy season has just returned and sleeping on the street in wet clothes in the rain is no fun. I told her that Morris scraped together enough money to buy Junior a jacket and is feeding him every day and that, as soon as Chelsea is able to raise enough money, Junior and several other children who live on the streets will have shelter until Chelsea and Morris can find them permanent homes.
Brynn was quiet for a bit. I figured she must have been daydreaming and was expecting her to say something like, "I'm hungry, can we get a burrito?"
Instead, after her moment of silence, she said, "Mom, I want you to transfer $100 out of my bank account and send it to Chelsea."
I checked with her to be sure she really wanted me to take out that much money. I said, "Brynn, that is more than 1/4 of what you have in savings."
"I know. I want you to send it to Chelsea."
Of course, as always happens when I see evidence of Brynn's gift of giving, tears welled up in my eyes.
How is it that God has blessed me with a child who cares SO much about others? Who wants justice and peace and change? Who is willing to DO something about it? How could I be entrusted with this? And what can I do to foster her gift? To help her grow to her full potential?
And so I transferred the money for her and sent it to Chelsea. I drove from thrift store to thrift store to thrift store buying what Brynn needs for the crafts she is going to sell. I scoured the internet looking for crafts that kids can do that will look good and racked my brain to think of places where Brynn and HELP can sell their wares.
Because, when you have a kid who has potential like this, you nurture it. You abandon your own desires for things like a clean house and a finished basement and you pour yourself into a kid who wants to change the world. And then you keep your eyes and ears open for the next opportunity the giving fairy will have to strike again.
If Brynn's story of giving touches you, I would challenge you to match her donation. She only makes $3/week, and she gave $100. How much will you give? We'll chalk your gift up to the giving fairy.