by Mandi Baledge
Fayetteville, Arkansas USA
The year my 9-year-old son Drew was in fourth grade, his class planned an end-of-the-year party for months. They decided that they wanted to go for lunch to Jose’s (their favorite Mexican restaurant) then bowling afterwards. For the 60 kids to do this, they needed to raise around $400.00. They devised a plan to sell candy at lunch time to pay for the trip, which became their class project.
They worked hard for the last couple months of the year, researching types of candy, prices, profit margins and selling methods. They decided against one brand of chocolate candy, as the chocolate contained caffeine. (If I know the teacher at all, that was her influence!) They wanted low-cost items which would sell for 25-50 cents.
They set up schedules and worked twenty minute shifts in groups of four. They managed the entire project themselves. When they had finally met their financial goal, all they talked about was this highly anticipated trip.
Then the father of one of their classmates died of cancer. He had been sick for years, and his medical bills had added up to an overwhelming amount. The kids in Drew’s class were very upset by this. I could tell that my son was worrying and thinking about this for days.
On the morning of the funeral, Drew came to me and said “Mom, I really want to go to the funeral. Ghlenn won’t have any friends there, and I need to be there for him.” I was ashamed that my first thoughts were that I didn’t know this family, and that I had a lot to do at work and didn’t need to take time off. But I was glad Drew had compassion for his friend, and replied, “Of course we’ll go.”
At the funeral, his teacher told me that Drew had approached her with two of the other boys. They wanted to donate all of the class trip money to the family. Drew told her that they didn’t need a big trip and would be happy staying at the school’s playground for the day. To bolster his case, he had told her that I would bring popsicles to the event! The other boys backed him up. They had discussed it and decided that it was what they needed to do.
The teacher and I just cried. She said that these boys were her “Little Toots” — the most headstrong kids in the class, but the sweetest. The class worked out a compromise. They had another school-wide candy sale day, and earned about $130.00. They donated that day’s money to the family. Because of my son’s actions, I believe the other kids in the class that year became more aware of other people and their needs.