I received an e-mail from faithful reader James the other day:
"I got quite misty yesterday when (my daughter)came home from school. Her school is gathering pennies in order to raise money. When she came home she did an "extensive" search of the house for pennies. She had just about accepted the fact that she did not find very many. Then she remembered her piggy bank, went up and took out all the pennies. She came downstairs and proudly stated something to the effect that could now help the people hurt by the hurricane. I'm telling you, I hugged and smooched that kid and had to walk away to regain my composure. Egadz! Sometimes the future doesn't seem so bad."
Inspired by his daughters ingenuity and generousity, I decided to discuss this with my kids (ages 9&5). My wife and I explained to them that all these people that we see on TV lost their homes, toys, pets, clothes, books, etc.; and that they were being "asked" to ride on buses many hundreds of miles away to live in an indoor stadium or convention center in a city of someone else's choosing. We reminded our kids that they were very fortunate that we live in a nice home, in a safe town, and have lots of toys, clothes, and a wonderful dog. (Which means a tornado will come and knock my house down next week, because I'm a big believer in jinxes).
We told the kids that we would be giving some extra money at church on Sunday that will be sent to help these families. We asked them if they would consider giving some of the money that is in their piggy banks (yes, they are actual piggy banks) to help these families, too.
My daughter emptied her bank, counted the money, and decided to give about 60% of it. I told her that I was very proud of her generosity, and that her kindness would be returned to her someday.
My son emptied his bank and said that because he has so many nice toys that he didn't need the money, so "those people" could have all of it. Besides, his birthday was only 6 months away, and he would get more money then. $12.67. I thanked him for his generousity and told him that I am indeed a proud father to have such caring children.
They put their money into ziplock bags and proudly put it in the collection basket on Sunday. The folks who count the money each week probably weren't thrilled (although we put slips of paper with the dollar amount in each bag to make it easier to process).
It has been my goal to raise children with a certain "community service conscientiousness". I think I'm on the way.
Thanks again to James and his daughter for the inspiration.
And yes, I'll be sneaking some extra change back into their piggy banks to help rebuild their savings.