“And though she be but little, she is fierce.” ~ William Shakespeare
So, I wrote about how amazing Addie and her friend are for establishing a project to share the importance of inclusion with their friends, and how their friends starting giving them donations for DSACO, Special Olympics, and the Miracle League. Well, today, those efforts came to a screeching halt.
I received a phone call from Addie’s teacher at 10am; she was out sick on Tuesday and Wednesday, and returned to school today to learn of these advocacy and fundraising efforts. She panicked, a bit, and understandably so, I suppose. Apparently, from the beginning of school to the time of our phone call, the girls had collected another $17.50. Hearing this, my jaw dropped. They had already collected close to $20 the previous days. When Ad told me that they were collecting donations from their friends, I figured it was a dime here, a quarter there. I mean, they’re in second grade; why would they be taking cash to school? (Lunch money gets loaded onto a debit-type card.)
My anxiety kicked in. I figured her teacher was going to tell me that they couldn’t collect any more money; she was probably just as concerned as I was about getting angry calls and emails from parents once they realized that their kids were giving their money away without first consulting them. Our school has a lot of fundraisers (in addition to what our PTO does…it’s truly overkill), and some parents went sideways last year when a new school fundraiser was announced. (That is the reason I resigned from the PTO board this year; there was way too much drama and hate directed toward the board as a result of these new fundraisers.) I was not about to deal with that all over again.
After much thought, I emailed Ad’s teacher and told her that I would advise Addie to call off the fundraising and just focus on the advocacy angle. That was the most important aspect of this project, anyway. I told her that we would donate the money that was already collected, and I had already said that I would provide receipts so that it was clear that the money was indeed donated. You can imagine my surprise when Addie got off the bus this afternoon and burst into tears.
She managed to tell me that she had to give back all the donations that were collected, and then she ran to her room. That mama bear instinct kicked right in; I was angry that instead of letting us handle the situation, the school had made Addie feel like she had done something wrong.
I do realize that there are rules and regulations for collecting money, and I respect those; I certainly did not anticipate this project causing any drama. I didn’t encourage her to solicit donations, but I didn’t discourage it, either. Again, in my mind, they would be dealing with a few dollars in change. And, honestly, I thought they would lose interest in this fairly quickly, as most kids tend to do in situations like these.
I felt bad; the situation sucks. I want her to be proud of what she’s doing, and encourage her to have the confidence to do something like this. It’s really quite remarkable that two second graders decided to take this on by themselves. At the same time, I don’t want her to get in trouble at school, and I don’t want other families to be resentful that their kids are contributing to yet another fundraiser at school. How do you relay that without squashing her enthusiasm?
We’ll find other ways for her to help. We’ve already encouraged her to continue to show her friends the importance of being inclusive toward everyone, and we’ll help her find a way to financially contribute to these organizations (just not within the school!). I’ve already talked to her about being my co-captain for Team Alex this year, and she was very excited about that idea.
I think the most important thing to take from this is to not underestimate what kids can do when they truly want to help. As the mom of Ad’s friend pointed out, these two will really be able to inspire others when they are older, based on what they’ve done this week. Although Ad was so disappointed earlier today, it’s still beyond amazing to think about what she might do from here.
The possibilities are endless.