Each year in December, Susan gives the children of her employees $50 apiece to use to help others. She encourages the kids to educate themselves and choose how to use this money all by themselves. They all turn in a short writeup of what they did, which Susan collects and looks back on from time to time.
This year, we invited two of those kids, Eli and Asha, to reflect on what they decided and what they got from this experience. Here, in their own words, are their thoughts.
ELI, age 15
I thought this was a good idea because many people get the money. She offered the money to so many kids, so that means a lot of charities can get money.
I know anybody can give to a charity, and it doesn’t have to be a huge amount of money. I think this is an important project because it will help us all later in life. You can remember this and maybe you’ll remember that charity you chose and start thinking about giving back more.
I gave my money to Ronald McDonald House in Hershey. I looked up charities on Google to do this. I started my research there, and I liked Ronald McDonald House and their mission. I liked it because it helped so many kids and families who were going through a tough time. I just wanted to give the money to someone who helps for anything.
A lot of kids these days get so much stuff. It’s important that they remember they’re not always going to get everything. Giving things can help other people and not just them.
I don’t know if I’ll keep giving back in my future. I’m not sure what I’m going to do. But I’d tell people to just find something that you would like and you think is important.
ASHA, age 10
If kids don’t give back, they don’t know how to help the world, and if they don’t know how to help the world, they won’t know how to help others, and you need to learn that. You need to cherish what you have, and you need to share it. There are people in the world that don’t have that and you do, so you should learn to do that. It makes you feel good.
When I think about the people I give back to, I think I’m going to help them. I think of how I’m helping, but I don’t need to know who they are or why they need that help. It’s important just that I’m helping.
I chose to give my money to Operation Wildcat Project Books through Mechanicsburg Area School District. They buy kids in need a book for the holidays.
Not everyone knows how to read, and it’s an important part in your life. I honestly don’t think that for Operation Wildcat, for the books, not many people think it’s one of the important things, like giving food or furniture. I think it is. Books can help you learn about history or just a story in your mind. They can entertain you.
Books are something where I can forget all about my feelings or what I’m doing today or what I did wrong. I can relax, sit, lay upside down — I just love books. They’re fun and they’re interesting, and I want other people to have them.
Kids need to learn to help. If they’re not taught this now, they won’t be taught it later on, and everyone wants to help usually.
It’s important to make a change at your age. Whether it’s giving money or buying stuff, having fund-raisers. It’s important to give back.
I give back for the help. A little while ago I had a fund-raiser, and it was for Cats Cupboard [a food bank for students in Mechanicsburg], and my mom and dad didn’t tell me to do it. I raised $400 for them. That was probably one of my favorite things I’ve done. I just recently sold some cookies, and this was my idea. I gave the money to Caitlin’s Smiles, $120.
When I am a parent, I’m thinking every holiday we’ll do something, sign up for a charity and help out.
Eli and Asha also interviewed each other about their experience.
ELI: Why did you choose your charity?
ASHA: I chose Operation Wildcat because they help kids who don’t have enough food, clothes and books. It’s important that all kids get this, and they can keep on going on.
ASHA: How did you learn about Ronald McDonald House?
ELI: I just saw them when I was looking up charities, and I liked them because they help families when they’re having a hard time.
ELI: Is there any other charity you thought of?
ASHA: I thought of Caitlin’s Smiles, but I knew I’d do more with that in the future, so I wanted to do something else. I wanted to spread the joy.
ASHA: If you could do anything for the families at Ronald McDonald House, what would you do?
ELI: I’d cook a meal for them. It’s hard to cook if you’re going through something hard, you don’t really have the time to do it.