These kids are choosing to pass on birthday gifts to raise money for charities
Children are the future, and the future looks very bright if trends like this continue. It’s quite remarkable to see the kindness, empathy and dedication that comes out of these little ones. Some might say, “It’s Majic”.
There is a growing philanthropic trend where children are choosing to raise funds for worthy causes, with some asking for charitable donations in lieu of birthday gifts.
Claire Anschuetz from Wagga Wagga, in southern New South Wales has been looking forward to celebrating her birthday this week, but this year she does not want presents.
The 10-year-old is asking for money from family and friends instead.
“I wanted to donate to something, but I just wasn’t sure what,” Claire said.
“My friend Bella’s pop died from liver cancer, so I decided to give to the Cancer Council.”
This has not been the first time the student from South Wagga Public School has surrendered her presents.
Last year, Claire donated toys from her birthday to the children’s ward at Wagga Base Hospital and she has been in good company with her philanthropic approach to life.
Growing trend of mindful youth
After learning about the drought at school last year 10-year-old Jack Berne, from Sydney’s Freshwater, decided he wanted to help farmers affected by the dry conditions.
“I saw a video about how bad it was. Kids were missing out on school to help on the farm, and I just wanted to help,” Jack said.
Alongside his classmates from St John the Baptist Primary School, Jack launched A Fiver for a Farmer.
The initiative has collected more than $1.5 million since August 2018, with money continuing to come through more than nine months later.
“The idea just popped into my head,” Jack said.
The campaign encouraged students to dress like farmers and donate $5 to the charities Rural Aid and Drought Angels.
“We sent out the idea to a lot of workplaces, schools and local shops and it all kind of started from there.”
The goal was to raise $20,000 and Jack reached it within 14 hours.
Parents caught off guard
Claire’s mother, Kristy Anschuetz, said she was surprised but proud when her daughter came up with the idea.
“It’s been all Claire. It wasn’t even on my radar,” Ms Anschuetz said.
This year, Claire hoped to raise $1,000 for Cancer Council and was well on her way, with more than $370 already collected.
Ms Anschuetz said her daughter’s decision came from her love of helping others which grew after Claire’s father died in 2015.
“I think since then it’s been even more so that she wanted to make a difference,” she said.
“A lot of people have helped her, and I think she just wanted to give back to the community.”
Jack’s mother, Prue Berne, said she was caught off guard by the community’s support for Jack’s campaign.
“Within six weeks, more than 1,100 schools had registered, and we were literally in awe of him,” Ms Berne said.
“Just watching him develop into a child that we didn’t know existed in there has been pretty amazing.
“Showing him what impact he’s had, triggering a nation to get involved and get behind and care about our farmers —I think that’s knowledge, that as a parent, you can’t really teach.”
The right charity at the right time
When choosing whether to donate to a charity it is not uncommon for people to be wary of where a fundraiser had come from, and whether donations would go to the intended beneficiaries.
Kimberley O’Brien is the principal child psychologist at The Quirky Kid Clinic, said this caution can be a barrier for children wanting to raise money for charity.
“If parents are comfortable giving to charities and raising money, then that’s something they can pass on,” Dr O’Brien said.
“But sometimes it’s not part of the family culture and it could be something they pick up from school.”
Ms Berne said community expectations on Jack had been high at times and it was important to remember he was only 10.
“I didn’t realise what we were getting ourselves into, and early on I didn’t realise that we could say ‘no’ to things, so we ended up doing a lot,” she said.
Dr O’Brien said supporting children to be philanthropic meant finding the right charity at the right time.
“It’s really important for parents to vet the charity that the young person will be working with, to know exactly how much of the funds that they’re contributing will go directly to the people in need,” she said.
“It’s important to keep the young person involved in that process.
“Children don’t need to step back and say, ‘Someone else will take care of it’, but step forward and say, ‘What can I do to contribute’.”