8.16.2011

A Wave Of Love

It started with a little ripple when a wide-eyed first grader named Michael stopped by my office, like he often did, for a quick hello.  The raspy quality of his voice still echoes in my mind as I replay the urgency of his earnest request.  “Mrs. Gruener, you know those poor people who were hurt by that killer wave?” Picturing the devastation I’d seen on the news following that terrible tsunami, I knowingly nod, never expecting what came next. “We’re going to help them, aren’t we?” he confidently added. 
     Many thoughts started swimming through my head as I struggled to find the words to gently tell Michael that no, since we just sent School Supply Kits to Iraqi children and since we are about to launch our quarters collection for the fully-integrated playground project and since lots of people worldwide were already helping the tsunami victims, we probably wouldn’t be taking on another service project right now.  But instead of any of that, I felt myself smile and heard myself tell Michael, “That’s a great idea!” 
     And so began our first student-initiated collection.  We would ask our students to find a way to earn a dollar this week.  Maybe there’s a chore that they could do for their parents or family friends; maybe there’s a need that they could fill to earn that cash.  They would bring their dollar on Friday for the one-day collection we’ll call 100 Cents for Tsunami Survivors.  As a visible reminder of this precious opportunity to create a wave of love in this way, an empty five-gallon water jug would hold their donations.  If everyone participates, our $800 donation would surely make a difference to the UNICEF relief efforts.
     From a splash came the wave of heartwarming tales.  Students lined up with coin purses, wallets, and piggy banks, pennies, quarters and dollar bills, ready to show their support by filling the jug.  There was a third-grade boy who gave most of the allowance money in his wallet.  There was a first-grade girl who donated all of the money she’d earned for her report card.  There was a second-grade boy who emptied his piggy bank to donate his entire savings.  A kindergarten boy and his third-grade sister baked cookies with their mom and sold them to bring in a sizable donation.  Another second-grade boy helped his friends raise money by selling lemonade on the corner.  And a first-grade boy wrote a poem about how we’re ready to help the tsunami children, ending it with “ready or not, here I come!”.  Such generosity almost doubled our initial goal and the Westwood family sent just over $1500 to UNICEF.  I’m amazed at the natural power generated by kids helping kids and blessed by Michael's stop by my office that created this incredible wave of love.    

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